SAGUARO TANGO WRITTEN BY
LEILANI MARIE LABONG
TWO GIGANTIC SAGUARO LOVEBIRDS , LOCKED IN A PERMANENT EMBRACE ON A BUILDING SITE AT THE BASE OF THE CATALINA MOUNTAINS , WERE THE CAUSE OF MANY A FURROWED BROW ON THE FACES OF SONYA SOTINSKY AND MIGUEL FUENTEVILLA , OF TUCSON - BASED FORS ARCHITECTURE
The stunning, contemporary dwelling the husband-and-wife team designed for a highpowered tech attorney on this particular sun-baked location was, in many ways, at the mercy of these prickly guardians. “The Tucson desert is beautiful, but it’s intense,” says Sotinsky, “and totally loaded with saguaros. We had to uproot and replant seven of them, and quietly dance around the intertwined pair.”
HOME BUILDER Eric Freedberg, Milestone Homes ARCHITECTURE Sonya Sotinsky and Miguel Fuentevilla, FORS Architecture + Interiors INTERIOR DESIGN Sonya Sotinsky and Miguel Fuentevilla, FORS Architecture + Interiors BEDROOMS 3
SQUARE FEET 6,622
Shown in a polished nickel finish, the elegant curves and simple lines of this pendant make it the perfect piece to brighten contemporary spaces. Hayden Small Hammered Iron Pendant, $109; arteriorshome.com
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As mindful as Sotinsky and Fuentevilla were about uniting the new architecture with its arid environs—not only through cacti relocation, but also via a thoughtful selection of materials that mimic the desert’s natural masonry, and a dedication to remain within the original footprint of the two-story home previously on the site—the couple was forced to master yet another delicate two-step, this time with the development’s homeowners association. “The community no longer allowed new twostory additions,” explains Fuentevilla. “In order to keep the double height, AIR PLANES The white terrazzo floors, light walnut accents and abundant glass emphasize the loftiness of the double-height great room. The kitchen windows frame a Sotinskydesigned xeriscape of native ocotillo, teddy bear cactus and fountain grass.
we had to integrate part of the old structure—a single column, literally— into the new design.”
FIRE AND WATER
The seating nook in front of the great room’s smaller fireplace is the last pit stop before the space flows out into the pool, built by Tucson’s Cimarron Circle Construction Company, or diverges into the high-tech library.
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Thanks to this negligible relic, carefully salvaged from the ruins of the old edifice, a grand three-bedroom, five-bath residence materialized, the star of which might be the lofty great room, a magnificent space enclosed by a south-facing, 40-foot-wide wall of glass windows and doors. A close contender is the semiprofessional kitchen, outfitted with top-of-the-line induction cooktops, refrigerators and a Wood Stone pizza oven. “I love the great room for its sheer volume,” says builder Eric Freedberg, of Tucson’s Milestone Homes. “But I think the homeowner prefers the kitchen—she’s a foodie and loves to cook.” By virtue of the openplan design—wherein the adjacent kitchen, library and mezzanine are all exposed to the great room—favoring such a cavernous space may be the safest bet.
UNITED COLORS The granite-like concrete block and sand-colored stucco harmonizes the home with its untamed desert environment. A stainless-steel sculpture by Micajah Bienvenu, Dancing Fool, rises from its poolside location, adding its own unique contours to the arid landscape.
GOLDEN RULE According to Sotinsky, â€œhigh dramaâ€? was the idea behind the backlit alabaster panels on this monumental hearth. The hand-blown glass suspension pendants from Hampstead Lighting counterbalance the lengthy dining table while emphasizing the height of the room.
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The kitchen’s commercial-grade equipment would, says Freedberg, “make most restaurant chefs jealous.”
There, a monumental hearth, fashioned with backlit alabaster panels,
The inverted L-shaped bar, crafted
provides a dramatic backdrop for the dining area, its amber luminescence
from walnut by Tucson-based Timeless Pieces, features distinctive banding
echoing the walnut accents in the space and imbuing warmth onto the
that accentuates its length.
polished concrete walls and sleek floors. “The white terrazzo floor tiles were a special request from the homeowner,” says Sotinsky. These interior finishes harmonize with the cool, contemporary architecture and serve as a minimalist gallery setting for the attorney’s extensive collection of modern sculpture and paintings. A smaller hearth opposite the alabaster fireplace marks the entrance to a LIFE AQUATIC Given the shortage of water in desert climes, this cast-in-place concrete fountain by the McNary Company in Tucson uses recycled water for its refreshing percolation.
“library,” which doesn’t contain the shelves of books that typify such spaces, but rather three flat-screen televisions, complete with computer hook-ups. By comparison, however, the rest of the house is decidedly low tech.
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“The homeowner preferred simple things that turn on and off—not one big magic button that controls everything in the house,” explains Freedberg. It’s a mindset that not only complements the keep-it-simple values inherent in modern architecture but also ensures a strong connection between home and homeowner—conceivably, fewer bells, whistles and wires translates into a purer understanding of the design. Such clarity is also true of the home’s intimate relationship with the land. While the Sonoran Desert’s finery is artfully exhibited through a profusion of glass, it’s the perspective from high up in the mezzanine-cum-mastersuite that offers the most revelatory spectacle: a far-reaching Tucson cityscape that begins with, appropriately, those two saguaros embracing LOOKING GLASS
by the pool. L
The poolside cuddling saguaros and sweeping valley vista can be viewed from any point in the great room and mezzanine, thanks to a 40-foot-wide wall of southfacing glass windows and doors.
Published on Oct 1, 2011