In postwar Phoenix, architect Al Beadle’s low-lying rectilinear houses were the epitome of midcentury cool. Since they were also situated in the Sonoran Desert, where temperatures can reach 110 degrees, such houses had to be even cooler. The renowned architect mitigated the climate by introducing courtyards, which provided privacy and brought breezes tempered by pools or shady gardens, into houses that opened up to the elements. “What makes them desert-appropriate is that they create an oasis-like feeling,” says architect Brent Kendle. “You have areas of sunshine and areas of shade—that’s key in Arizona.”
Such qualities are at the heart of a Scottsdale home inspired by a 1971 Beadle dwelling that one of the homeowners, a race car builder, grew up in. When their former residence grew too small, he and his wife agreed to begin a search for a home that would give them more room for a garage, closet space and areas for entertaining. After two years of hunting, the husband found himself sketching a home with some of the hallmarks of his childhood abode. “It had a lot of glass, an open floor plan, and a courtyard with a pool in the middle,” he explains. “It was private in the sense that you were always looking into this courtyard instead of out to the street.”
With sketch in hand, he turned to Kendle to craft a new home that would feature the same glass expanses and include a pair of courtyards at its core. Designed in the shape of an H, the house boasts an eight-car garage in one wing and three bedrooms in the other, both connected by the tall open space of a great room that spills onto two terraces, one with a 50-foot-long pool to the north and a more contemplative garden to the south, via sliding glass walls. “You can open up the whole center of the home,” Kendle says. Perched upstairs is the “Birds Nest,” a media room with its own patio; it was named after the famed Phoenix Open hot spot where the owners met.
On the exterior, Kendle interspersed glass with contrasting textures: mesa stone, sandblasted concrete block, stacked block, and silvery columns of clear anodized aluminum. Such materials add interest to the arrangement of rectilinear forms that make up the home. All of the glazing so integral to the design is the result of some clever choices by builder Stephan Mackos.
Because the house is so open, creating privacy and integrating the building into the setting were key. All rooms are fitted with recessed roller shades that hide away in the ceiling. A concrete block privacy wall encloses the parcel, and another wall separates the entry courtyard from the pool area. Working with Kendle, landscape architect Shari Zimmerman designed a water feature that extends through the entry courtyard into the pool area, emitting a tranquil sound that sets the tone just steps from the front door. Elsewhere, Zimmerman created “an ordered landscape that was clean, neat and restful to the eye,” using sculptural desert plants such as ocotillo, agave, and saguaro and barrel cacti, reinforcing the home’s modern aesthetic.
While the landscaping reflects the scenery, the interiors do not, starting with the showstopping black-and-white swirled porcelain floors that look like honed marble and convey the “more glamorous, more uptown” look the homeowners were going for, says Paul Lavoie, an interior designer from Calgary, Canada. Building on the floors, Lavoie then infused the house with a glamorous palette of black, white, silver, and gray accented with pops of red. Instead of filling the home with vintage Eames and Nelson pieces to reflect its midcentury style, Lavoie combined contemporary furnishings with the Baroque. The result: a glittering jewel box that the husband fondly refers to as his “great oasis in the desert,” even better than the one he grew up in.