Reinvention 2011: The Home Tour

By December 13, 2011Building Our Practice

We just returned from Phoenix where we attended Reinvention 2011, an architectural symposium organized by publisher Hanley Wood.  We try to go at least once a year to a conference for the chance to see our practice with fresh eyes and be inspired as we visit with architects from all over the country; this was our first Reinvention that we’ve attended and it won’t be our last.  Reinvention caters specifically to architects who design residential work.  As Warren has several interesting residential projects on the boards, the timing couldn’t have been better.  We spent the first day on a tour of 5 homes designed by local Phoenix architects.

All were remarkable; two homes in particular stood out for me.  Both had quiet facades in the streetscape but hidden within were elements of drama and surprise, jewels to be discovered.  The first was the Cedar Street Residence designed by colab studio in Tempe.

The husband and wife are both architects and he admitted that they almost had to hire an architect to design their home for lack of agreement between them.  They had purchased the 1954 bungalow several years ago and tight budget constraints demanded a design that was simple and efficient.  I’m glad they were able to come to a consensus, because the resulting product is beautiful.  The first surprise here was the oasis of an interior courtyard flanked by the original home on one side (completely gutted, but now used for bedrooms) and a new structure on the opposite side (where their office and kitchen/living area are located).

The second surprise was the use of millwork on castors to create flexibility in room sizes.  Millwork separates the dining room and office area and can be moved to accommodate a larger dining area when entertaining guests for dinner or a larger office space when hosting a client meeting.  Interestingly, they designed the project in phases, initially creating outdoor pods for bedroom spaces.  Dwell magazine wrote about that here.  And for beautiful photos of this project on their own website, visit here.

Will Bruder + Partners designed the Hill/Shepard Residence years ago and it remains one of Bruder’s favorite projects.

As he spoke to us in the driveway upon our arrival in front of the unassuming facade, I’ll admit that I had no idea what was in store for us.  Designed for a family that likes to entertain and has an extensive art collection, the home is full of surprises, both indoors and out.

I really appreciated the restraint of the front design; there were so many “aha” moments as we toured the home, from the canyon-like climb up the stairs to the crow’s nest on top of the house.The house was full of nooks and cozy spaces designed on a human scale. The homeowners love to entertain and it was apparent that this home is a cherished gathering spot for friends and family.  Our photos only begin to capture some of the color and detail of the home.  Visit Will Bruder’s website for the professional set of photos.

Tip for young architects:  Attend architectural conferences as soon as you possibly can.  In the early days, we couldn’t afford to travel to them, but Warren always made an effort to attend local AIA offerings when we lived in Seattle.  (Attending one such conference led to a job in northern Japan where we lived for a year.) Conferences provide a chance to network, get inspired, and reinvent how we do things.  It’s one of the best things we’ve done to stay inspired.