• Covered entry courtyards protect the residents of DesertHills from the hot Arizona sun.

    Credit: Mark Boisclair

    Covered entry courtyards protect the residents of DesertHills from the hot Arizona sun.

downing, thorpe & james, boulder, colo.

Desert Hills' Scottsdale, Ariz., setting is filled with scenic views of the Sonoran Desert, but they alone didn't satisfy project architect Rick New of Downing, Thorpe & James. "These lots don't have golf-course views like the other communities in Desert Mountain," he says. "They're also right next to a major road. We had to create some sort of alternative amenities that would overcome those negatives."

So the firm threw its energies into creating a strong connection between home and environment. The architects used materials that evoke the colors and textures of the desert, like sand-colored stucco and cultured stone. And they paid attention to the landscaping, using native plants and creating unique outdoor rooms for each of three basic plans.

DTJ's efforts weren't in vain; the judges were universally impressed with the project's response to its environment. "It's an intricate response to its site," said one.

project architect: Rick New, AIA, Downing, Thorpe & James
land planner: Steven James, AIA, and Susan Wade, Downing, Thorpe & James
developer: J.T. Elbracht, Desert Mountain Properties, Scottsdale
general contractor: Brian Ives, Price Woods, Scottsdale
landscape architect: Susan Wade, Downing, Thorpe & James
interior designer: Hillary Reed, Hillary Reed Interiors, Littleton, Colo.
project size: 3,159 to 4,528 square feet per unit
site size: 43 acres
construction cost: $136 per square foot
sales price: $750,000 to $1,115,000 per unit
units in project: 36