The best residential architects and designers in the Phoenix metro area, whether they are building a sprawling luxury mansion in Scottsdale or remodeling a classic ranch home or midcentury bungalow in a downtown neighborhood, are focused on getting along with the desert environment rather than fighting against it. This is a relatively new concept in the urban Southwest, and one that has captivated a new generation of thinkers and makers here. The architects on this list are all taking chances and going beyond the typical to create new traditions, new hybrids, and a new way of living in the desert. Many of these architects have created completely modern, nontraditional homes that fit well into the landscape, and they have received attention from professionals in the field for their innovation.

This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who can both design stunning homes but differ in other services offered. Architects are trained in design, engineering, and project management and have passed a licensing exam. Residential designers typically don’t manage projects and plans will need to be approved by a structural engineer. Whether you choose to hire an architect or a residential designer will depend on your project needs and complexity.

This list includes architects working in Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Chandler, Scottsdale, Glendale, Gilbert, Tempe, Peoria, and Surprise Arizona.

Top Architects

Circle West Architects

Peter M. Koliopoulos

AIA Arizona Honor Award,
AIA + Sunset Magazine Homes Awards Honorable Mention

4148 N. Arcadia Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85018

About Circle West Architects

An expert and innovator in sustainable design, Peter M. Koliopoulos opened Circle West Architects in 1992. The firm works on residential, mixed-use, infill, office, hotel, and education projects in the Phoenix metro area and throughout the West. Known for creative and unique structures that enhance the desert rather than working against it, Circle West’s work has received many local and national awards, including an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Arizona Honor Award and an AIA + Sunset Magazine Homes Awards Honorable Mention. The firm’s work has been featured in Luxe Magazine, Desert Living, Desert Architecture, and other publications. Koliopoulos earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

Featured Projects

Koliopoulos created the amazing “Desert House,” a 5,000-square-foot custom home in upscale Paradise Valley, with a “forward thinking approach to desert life.” Starting with a 20-year-old, concrete-and-stucco house on a one-acre desert property, Koliopoulos used recycled materials and other sustainable techniques to completely reimagine the space, creating a jaw-dropping home with glass walls protected by low overhangs, zinc siding, and straight, clean lines. Circle West also thought a lot about what it means to live in a desert when designing The Duke, a 13k-square-foot condo project in downtown Scottsdale. The sharp-cornered, modern building seeks to balance the dueling human needs for individuality and community, with eight separate homeowners in one distinctive and inspiring structure. The Duke is also a model of urban desert sustainability, having been designed according to Scottsdale’s Residential Green Building Program.

Blank Studio Design + Architecture

Matthew G. Trzebiatowski

Residential Architect Magazine Project of the Year

3627 E. Indian School Road, Suite 206-C, Phoenix, AZ 85018

About Blank Studio Design + Architecture

Committed to finding new ideas about how to live well in the desert, Matthew G. Trzebiatowski has been director of Blank Studio Design + Architecture since 2006. Trzebiatowski has a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning. He also serves as a professor of architecture, faculty chair, and director of the Architectural Practice Studio at the School of Architecture at Taliesin, as well as an assistant lecturer at the University of Arizona School of Architecture. Experts in sustainable design, the firm’s work has been honored numerous times by the AIA and AIA Arizona and has been featured in Dwell, Hamptons Magazine, Architizer, and many other publications.

Featured Projects

Blank Studio Design + Architecture has several interesting and innovative residential projects in the works, including the “Yucca Residence,” a small, futuristic-looking, two-story house perched on a rise on a small lot overlooking Phoenix. The tall, rectangular structure features a long window for sweeping views and is constructed of concrete masonry covered in steel. The studio also designed Xeros House (xeros=dr), a strange and wonderful, two-story rectangle of steel and glass, with great views of the mountains from the second-story nest. Built on a small lot in a residential neighborhood near the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, the home is shielded in places from the harsh desert by panels of woven metal mesh, and its copper-colored metal exterior melds perfectly with the desert sunsets.

Chen + Suchart Studio

Patricia Szu-Ping Chen Suchart
Thamarit Suchart

AIA AZ Distinguished Building Design Award,
AIA Arizona Design Excellence Merit Award,
Residential Architects Design Award

7070 E. 3rd Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

About Chen + Suchart Studio

Chen + Suchart Studio is a groundbreaking design firm led by Patricia Szu-Ping Chen Suchart and Thamarit Suchart. Both earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design and a master’s degree in architecture and urban design from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. The pair started their own firm in 2003 after working for Phoenix-based Wendell Burnette Architects and Jones Studio. The firm has won many local and national awards, including the AIA AZ Distinguished Building Design Award, the AIA Arizona Design Excellence Merit Award, and a Residential Architects Design Award for custom residence over 3,000 square feet.

“We have ZERO interest in style. What we are interested in is work that has integrity which as a result transcends style. Our interests in the arts initiated with the premise of being creative. There are not too many professions where one can be creative and have others support you in this creative process. Our clients come to us to pursue a process and work that is unprecedented.” – Thamarit Suchart

Featured Projects

One of Chen + Suchart Studio’s most visually arresting designs is the Staab Residence, a 3,000-square-foot home in Scottsdale. Focusing on views of the McDowell Mountains and the valley, the two-level home features a hidden courtyard with a pool below an elegant floating top floor made of steel and glass. Another section is made of weathered steel, and the private courtyard is surrounded by sand-blasted masonry walls. Another of Chen + Suchart’s stylish and innovative homes is the Yerger Residence, a 3,890-square-foot home in Phoenix with excellent views of Camelback Mountain. The design features a sheet steel-clad floating volume on a concrete base, a negative edge pool, and an open living space with access to elevated outdoor areas through a long, sliding glass door that faces the desert mountains.

Jones Studio

Eddie Jones
Neal Jones
Brian Farling
Jacob Benyi

AIA AZ Home of the Year Merit Award,
AIA Honor Awards,
Phoenix Home & Garden Arizona Homes of the Year Honor Award

205 S. Wilson Street, Tempe, AZ 85281

About Jones Studio

Recognized leaders in green design, Jones Studio was founded by architect and Principal Eddie Jones in 1979. He was later joined by his brother, fellow architect and Principal Neal Jones. Brian Farling and Jacob Benyi are also principals and partners in the firm. Jones Studio has won more than 190 awards for its projects and has been recognized by Architect Magazine as a top 50 firm and a leader in sustainability. The firm, with 11 architects on staff, is a leader in water-saving and sustainable and environmental design. Besides building singular and inventive homes in Phoenix metro area, Jones Studio works on commercial, education, and government projects throughout the region.

Featured Projects

“The Outpost,” a 4,000-square-foot home designed by Jones Studio in Paradise Valley, is truly a masterpiece in indoor-outdoor, desert-adapted design. A series of “rectangular pods” connected by a path, the home uses solar energy, and each pod can be turned on and off at will. The striking roofs and use of wood harken back to native structures, and there are large glass walls that open and erase the line between indoors and out. And in an especially evocative detail, the long, narrow concrete lap pool and the front door are aligned with the highest point on the horizon, the famed Papago Peak in the distance. The Jones Studio team describes the “Logan Residence,” a 4,600-square-foot home in Scottsdale, as a “private museum,” as it was designed to house an important private collection of contemporary art. The firm designed the house to be a series of galleries featuring daylighting in various forms, in an effort to introduce a different kind of desert light into each gallery or room. Additionally, the home has orthogonal shape so that none of the lot’s native desert vegetation and boulders were disturbed.

Wendell Burnette Architects

Wendell Burnette

AIA AZ Honor Awards,
AIA AZ Merit Awards

5102 N. Central Avenue, Suite 5, Phoenix, AZ 85012

About Wendell Burnette Architects

Wendell Burnette opened Wendell Burnette Architects in 1996 after working with Will Bruder for about a decade. He attended the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin West in the 1980s, and then traveled all over the world to learn about different cultures and their traditions of architecture and design. Burnette’s work has been recognized by the Academy of Arts and Letters and the AIA, and he has been nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award for restaurant design. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including Dwell, The Phaidon Atlas, and Luxe. An AIA Fellow, Burnette has designed buildings all over the world, from libraries to resorts and restaurants.

Featured Projects

The “Desert Courtyard House” is a Wendell Burnette home in Scottsdale, a 7,200-square-foot home on a mature, desert lot covered in Saguaro and Ocotillo. The home is perched on an outcropping, with the outlines of mountains shimmering in the distance. Made of rammed earth, the home’s glass-walled living spaces face a tranquil and private courtyard with desert vegetation. The Burnette team describes the singular “Dialogue House,” a 2,200-square-foot home at the base of Echo Mountain in Phoenix, as “two volumes of light.” The main living space is in the first clean-lined volume, which is filled with the light that comes a window that forms one wall. It sits on top of the second, darker volume, which has guest, work, and garage spaces.

Hayes Inc. Architecture/interiors

Catherine Hayes

AIA Phoenix Home of the Year Award,
Residential Design & Build Magazine Design Excellence Award

3511 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018

About Hayes Inc. Architecture/interiors

Though primarily focused on hospitality and restaurant design, Hayes Inc. Architecture/Interiors has experience working on many kinds of projects, and has designed several one-of-a-kind homes in the Phoenix metro area. Working on projects for famed Phoenix-area resorts like the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain and the Hotel Valley Ho has obviously given the firm a true sense of the good life and how to design it. Led by architect Catherine Hayes, the firm’s work has been featured in Luxe, Architectural Digest, and other publications. Hayes Inc. Architecture/Interiors has been honored with an AIA Phoenix Home of the Year Award, a Residential Design & Build Magazine Design Excellence Award, and many other laurels. Hayes attended the L’Ecole Des Beaux Arts in Versailles, France, and received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Featured Projects

“Uncomngrnd,” a 3,600-square-foot home in Phoenix, is an elegant steel-and-glass structure with living spaces situated around a courtyard. Built at the base of a desert hill, the home features warm wood paneling and glass walls. The home’s connection to the outdoors is enhanced by natural light and the forms and colors of the desert. A water feature in the courtyard further enhances the blurred lines between inside and out. Another Hayes project, the “Chaparral Residence” is described as a “sustainable family home,” which is something that most local architects would probably agree the Phoenix metro area needs more of. A contemporary ranch style home in Phoenix, the house was designed to encourage efficiency, sustainability, family togetherness, and an outdoor lifestyle. The home features solar energy, smooth transitions from indoor to outdoor spaces, frosted glass partitions, and landscaping designed to cool the yard’s microclimate.

Sever Design Group

Mark A. Sever

Custom Home Magazine Pace Setter Award for Innovation

28150 N. Alma School Parkway, Scottsdale, AZ 85262

About Sever Design Group

The design-build firm Sever Design Group has designed many stylish, innovative, and eye-catching luxury homes in the Phoenix metro area. The firm’s principal architect is Mark A. Sever, who has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Florida. The firm has won the Pace Setter Award for Innovation from Custom Home Magazine and a Best Architectural Design Award from the Desert Living Luxury Home Show, and its work has been featured in many publications.

Featured Projects

Sever Design Group designed and built a “personal resort”-style home in North Scottsdale for a couple from Indiana who relocated to Phoenix. The spacious, sleek, and modern home is on a 2.5-acre desert lot and has amazing views of the desert. Luxury and style are found around every clean line and secluded corner. It is exactly what you’d expect to find in a small, exclusive resort in the desert, with lots of glass walls and glass-like water making life a staycation and comfortable outdoor living both easy and necessary. The firm also designed and built a luxury home on a boulder-strewn desert lot in North Scottsdale, which was featured in one of Phoenix’s AIA Architecture Week Home Tours. The $4M, 10k-square-foot home is perfectly suited to its tricky lot, and features a second-floor outdoor pool that hangs over the boulder garden and 10-foot sliding glass doors along two sides providing stunning views.

Urban Design Associates

Lee Hutchison
Jessica Hutchison-Rough

Gold Nugget Award of Merit,
National Association of Homebuilders Best In American Living Awards,
Arizona Masonry Guild Excellence In Masonry Architecture Award

8150 N. 86th Place, Scottsdale, AZ 85258

About Urban Design Associates

Urban Design Associates focuses on high-end custom residential design, typically homes in the $1M to $4M range. Principal architect and CEO Lee Hutchison, AIA, and Jessica Hutchison-Rough, AIA, LEED AP, lead a highly talented and experienced staff. Started in 1979, it has since designed more than 2000 custom homes. Hutchison received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Arizona State University. Hutchison’s daughter, Jessica Hutchison-Rough, is a partner architect with the firm. She has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Arizona State University, and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of British Columbia. Urban Design Associates has won many honors for its home designs, including being named to the Luxe Gold List. The firm has won several silver, gold, and platinum Best In American Living Awards from the National Association of Homebuilders, as well as awards from the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona. The firm’s work has been featured in Luxe, Phoenix Home & Garden, Western Art & Architecture, and many other publications.

Featured Projects

Urban Design Associates won an Excellence In Masonry Architecture Award from the Arizona Masonry Guild for an luxury home in North Scottsdale built out of adobe, an ancient building technique that never quite goes out style in the Southwest. Other native materials like heavy timbers and stone were used in this artful structure near the Pinnacle Peak Mountain Preserve. The home’s many rounded native forms, which evoke both Pueblo kivas and Spanish missions, contrast wonderfully with the straight lines of the vigas and the grain in the wood floors, making this enchanting home a warm reimagining of regional style. With “Painted Sky” in North Scottsdale, Urban Design Associates designed an open, contemporary showplace that is intimately connected to the outdoors, featuring a pool that flows into the home like a creek, and shaded spaces that allow for seamless indoor-outdoor movement and living.

The Ranch Mine

Cavin Costello

AIA Future of Archtecture Award,
National Association of Home Builders Green Remodel of the Year

4340 E. Indian School Road, Suite 21552, Phoenix, AZ 85018

About The Ranch Mine

Cavin and Claire Costello, the married couple behind The Ranch Mine, the Phoenix metro area’s most innovative, creative, and visionary residential architecture firm, like to say they are designing homes for people with “pioneer spirit.” Showing a deep reserve of that same spirit, the couple started out with one project in 2010, and in a relatively short time have become an exceedingly busy, talked-about, and influential architectural firm with a growing national reputation. While dedicated to new ideas and forms, The Ranch Mine tends to look for Arizona’s past as well as its future in every project, from remodeling urban homes with an eye toward efficiency and sustainability, to building new spaces using the Phoenix Green Construction Code. Principal Cavin Costello has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Northeastern University in Boston and has been a passionate speaker on sustainable design at many colleges, conferences, and symposiums. Chief executive Claire Costello is an Arizona native with bachelor’s degrees in English and Communication from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Among many honors and recognitions, The Ranch Mine has won an AIA award for “Future of Architecture,” and a National Association of Home Builders Green Remodel of the Year award. The firm’s work has been featured on the NBC Today Show, HGTV, and in many local and national publications, including Architectural Record, Dwell, Atomic Ranch, Luxe, and 150 Best of the Best House Ideas.

Featured Projects

The design for “Canal House” reflects the public-private, indoor-outdoor balance of Southern Arizona’s Spanish missions. Built on a tricky lot along the Arizona Canal in Phoenix, the home’s living spaces gather around a private, grassy inner courtyard with a rusted-steel fireplace. The rusted-steel theme continues into the kitchen, part of main family living area, with an open flow and vaulted ceilings lined with hemlock. The design for the 2,505-square-foot home has made a big splash; it has been featured on HGTV, and in Dwell, Architect Magazine, and elsewhere. The “Link” project, another celebrated Ranch Mine new-build, has also been featured in Dwell, in Vogue, on HGTV, and in many other publications and websites. A three-bedroom spec house in the Pierson Place Historic District in uptown Phoenix, just a short stroll from the light rail station, the home features a 24-foot sliding glass wall, and the line between indoor and outdoor space only exists if you want it to. Using passive solar energy and with a direct link to public transportation, this home represents the future of urban desert style.

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