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Brighthawk - Treehouse

The Wagner Partnership, Inc

Shared By

Joanna, The Wagner Partnership, Inc.

Project Name

Brighthawk - Treehouse


Aravaipa Canyon

Project Status


Year Completed



563 sq. feet

Construction Cost



Tom Wagner, AIA & Betty Wagner

Certifications and Designations



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Project Description

Ten miles off the highway, with five of those miles being unpaved, resides the vast acreage of the Brighthawk Ranch in Aravaipa Canyon, AZ. The arduous trek from the highway to the residence presented several construction challenges for the Treehouse project, especially in terms of getting equipment, building materials and workers to the site. Due to the remoteness of the canyon property, extremely durable and fire resistant materials were a few of the specialty building materials carefully selected for the environmentally conscious guest house.

Given the proximity to Aravaipa Creek, a perennial flowing creek that has a history of flooding, it was determined to situate the residence high above the flood plain, thus giving it the “treehouse” nickname. A steel frame structure was constructed to support the treehouse and further insure its resistance to flooding. Composite patio decking covers the steel structure below and requires zero maintenance other than a quick brush of a broom or spray of a garden hose after a summer monsoon dust storm.

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), manufactured in Phoenix, were selected for the 12” thick 1st and 2nd floors, 6” thick exterior walls and 12” thick roof for their superior insulation properties, value and ease of constructability and delivery method. The project site located two hours southeast of Phoenix, one hour northeast of Tucson and at an elevation of 2,500 ft, is set within desert and riparian surroundings; perfect for showcasing the unique, eco-friendly adaptive structure.

The 8”x16” galvanized metal tiled exterior and standing seam metal roof are extremely low maintenance and non-combustible, which was a wise choice of building material given that volunteer fire protection services are a minimum of 30 – 45 minutes away. The interlocking design of the exterior metal tiles made it easy to achieve a tight fit. These particular metal tiles will never chip, peel or fade and do not require clips or exposed fasteners. They took less time to install and eliminated the potential for fastener leaks in the future.

The hot water is provided by an on-demand, propane fired water heater. Heating and cooling is regulated by an efficient electric heat pump split system, utilizing one condenser with two wall mounted fan coil units. It provides true year-round comfort from a single system. The Energy Star rated system from Mitsubishi offers eco-comfort technology, dual and triple-allergen filtration, and is whisper-quiet. Eco-comfort technology makes the system smarter in how it uses energy and minimizes its impact on the environment. The unit was easy to install and offered simple service and longer warranties.
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