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. These firms and their projects have received attention from professionals in the field for their innovation and sustainability.
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.
180 Degrees Design + Build
4955 N 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85013
About 180 Degrees Design + Build
American Institute of Architects (AIA) members and former local chapter leaders James Trahan AIA, John Anderson AIA, and Troy Vincent AIA lead the two-time Arizona AIA Contractor of the Year winner 180 Degrees Design + Build, which has been serving Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley since 2001. Trahan and Vincent were both graduates of Louisiana State University (LSU) and Anderson a graduate of Arizona State University (ASU). The principals were recently named Masters of the Southwest by Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine and published their first monograph “Making Architecture” to accompany a museum exhibit of their work.
The firm designed this breezy home at the base of Camelback Mountain with special living quarters for the owners’ young adult children who would come and go throughout the year. Wrapping sliding doors connect the marble waterfall-edge island kitchen and multiple sitting rooms to the lap pool and outdoor lounge area. Window walls also frame spectacular views for the other interior spaces, such as the master bedroom and the home office. The master bath’s recessed marble tub and glass-doored shower overlook the desert. Rich landscaping surrounds the home from the wood door main entry to the alfresco dining area.
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 leading Blank Studio Design + Architecture as a director since 2006. Trzebiatowski holds a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Aside from his practice, he has a rich experience in the academe 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.
Blank Studio Design + Architecture has several interesting and innovative residential projects under its belt, 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, 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.
Circle West Architects
Peter M. Koliopoulos
AIA Arizona Honor Award,
AIA + Sunset Magazine Homes Awards Honorable Mention
4148 North Arcadia Drive, Phoenix, Arizona 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.
Koliopoulos created the amazing “Desert House,” a 5,000-square-foot custom home in upscale Paradise Valley. The home was designed according to the concept of 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 another residential property, The Duke, a 13,000-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.
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.
Though primarily focused on hospitality and restaurant design, Hayes Inc. 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. 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 earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
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 blurs the lines that separate the indoors from the outdoors. 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.
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. Two more principals and partners, Brian Farling and Jacob Benyi, also joined the company. This was a milestone that allowed the firm to focus on a more comprehensive and diverse list of clientele. The results are projects that have been recognized for their architectural legacy and their roles in transforming the region’s residential communities. To date, Jones Studio has won more than 226 awards for its projects and has been recognized by Architect Magazine as a top 50 firm and a leader in sustainability. The firm, with a long list of architects on staff, is a leader in water-saving and sustainable and environmental design. Besides building singular and inventive homes in the Phoenix metro area, Jones Studio works on commercial, education, and government projects throughout the region.
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 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 an orthogonal shape in order to protect and respect the existing native desert vegetation and nearby boulders.
2716 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ 85006
About KQ Architects
Known for architectures that are “sensitive to people and place,” KQ Architects has produced custom residential designs that go aesthetically well with Arizona’s unique desert environment while making sure that every design element and structural layout responds to the needs of its users. For over four decades, the company has developed lifelong relationships with homeowners and project owners to deliver not just commercial and home designs but also architectures that benefit the healthcare sector. Hugh Knoell, AIA and Phillip Quidort, AIA, founded the firm in 1978 as a small, boutique studio renowned for its breakthroughs beyond conventional architecture. Awards and publications from the AIA, NCARB, Arizona Masonry Guild, and PCBC Gold Nugget highlight the firm’s design philosophy. In Phoenix, the firm has completed new home architecture and interior design works that embody its theme of modern, responsive, and sensitive architecture.
One of the firm’s most unforgettable works, which won the AIA Arizona Home of the Year and Merit Award, is the Berkey Residence, a 6,018-square-foot home situated on a rocky ledge in Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain. Given its prime view of the valley below, its architecture takes advantage of its natural surroundings through floor to ceiling glass walls that introduces an abundance of natural light in the morning and a ceiling of star-studded nightscapes in the evening. True to its goal of blending with landscape, the firm locked on a geometry derived from its surrounding landform. Another award-winning project that earned the Arizona Masonry Guild award, Gold Nugget Awards, and the Tucker Design Award, is the Allen & Cowley Residence. This home was built on a vacant property that previously discouraged potential project owners to build in because of its unusual location—a hillside near Phoenix’s downtown area. Nonetheless, the firm was up to the challenge, and produced a design that made use of its difficult terrain to build around a house and a garage connected by an old road. Like its other projects, the home’s facade is dominated by a tapestry of red and orange brick, with modern elements including massive windows and thin, sleek lines and frames.
1730 East Northern Avenue Suite 110, Phoenix, AZ 85020
About LEA Architects
LEA Architects is led by a father-and-son team of industry-recognized architects, Lawrence Enyart, FAIA and LEED Fellow, and Lance Enyart, AIA, LEED AP. The firm is one of the oldest architecture studios in the city with a history that dates back to 1975. Its decades of services have delivered an extensive portfolio that features a diverse range of markets and project types. From working with renowned brands and institutions, such as Starbucks, Wells Fargo, Phoenix Art Museum, Department of Homeland Security, The Ritz-Carlton, and many other local and global companies, the firm surely established a reputation of credibility, endurance, and flexibility. While the firm is celebrated for its works for these markets, its caliber as a custom home architect should not be overlooked. Publications such as Atomic Ranch and Architectural West Magazine have featured some of its notable residential projects across Arizona. In recent years, the firm has earned several AIA awards, including the WMR Design Awards & Silver Medal as well as the same organization’s AZ Design Awards. The company also won the annual Gold Nugget Grand Awards and the AZ Forward Crescordia Top Awards. Its green design practice has also allowed it to dominate the market and earn the prestigious Sustainable Building Awards.
As a family-owned and operated company headquartered in the city, many of its works for the residential market reflect the firm’s in-depth knowledge of local culture and how the Valley’s unconventional terrain can be more of an advantage rather than an obstacle. The firm’s profound understanding of the functional and architectural demands of designing homes around a highly unique landscape can be observed in its portfolio. These homes are found across Arizona and feature the same elements of modern, contemporary styles without losing their own individuality and character. The firm’s design for the Camelback Mountain Residence, for instance, is a modern home that easily enjoys the warmth and privacy of its interiors while establishing an effortless and unobstructed connection with its vast outdoors. Floor to ceiling glass walls, thin and sleek lines as partitions and boundaries create a harmonious visual and spatial relationship between the structure and the landscape. The Flagstaff Residence, on the other hand, features an imposing yet blending structure that feels right at home with the snow-capped hillside dotted by tall, sharp trees. Its facade forwards a modern second-level terrace that acts as an observatory so that dwellers and visitors can have a full, panoramic view of the valley.
Sever Design Grou
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. 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.
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, 10,000-square-foot home is perfectly suited to its tricky terrain. It features a second-floor outdoor pool that hangs over the boulder garden and 10-foot sliding glass doors along two sides providing stunning views.
The Ranch Mine
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
Gavin and Claire Costello, the husband-and-wife team 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 that adhere to the Phoenix Green Construction Code. Principal Gavin 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. Under their leadership, the company has secured many honors and recognitions, including 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.
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 the 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 Residence, 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 architecture.
Urban Design Associates
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 $1 million to $4 million range. Partner architect Lee Hutchison, one of Phoenix Home & Garden’s Master’s of the Southwest, started the firm in 1989 and has since designed more than 500 custom homes. Hutchison received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Arizona State University. Hutchison’s daughter, Jessica Hutchison-Rough, is the firm’s current principal architect. She holds 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 multiple 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
The firm’s portfolio features home designs and remodels across Phoenix, Scottsdale, and other major cities in Arizona. Many of its most iconic architectures are now local stunners recognized by many award-giving bodies. For instance, Urban Design Associates won an Excellence In Masonry Architecture Award from the Arizona Masonry Guild for a luxury home built out of adobe, an ancient building technique that never quite goes out of 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 Residence, the company 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.
Wendell Burnette Architects
AIA AZ Honor Awards,
AIA AZ Merit Awards
5102 N. Central Avenue, Suite 5, Phoenix, AZ 85012Contact
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. Throughout his career, his works have 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. Many of his designs have 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.
Scottsdale and Phoenix are home to some of the firm’s most notable residential architectures. 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 in from a window that forms one wall. It sits on top of the second, darker volume, which has guest, work, and garage spaces.