The studio of Debartolo Architects is a unique architectural design firm in that they are passionately committed to architectural excellence parallel with their commitment to serving clients and creating relevant and functionally-tuned environments for people. Founded in 1996 as a collaboration of the father-son team, the firm is built on the rich history of Jack Debartolo Jr. FAIA’s 22-year partnership with Anderson DeBartolo Pan, Inc. Through creativity, innovation and careful listening, their team has become one of the leading studios in creating highly-custom, well-tuned built-environments that respond to their client, context, culture and community.
In concept, the Roth House design is a response to the immediate and distant context. The ground floor of the house responds to the texture and fabric of the 1950’s University Terrace neighborhood, sitting contextually on the site – similar to all other houses in the neighborhood. Constructed in 4x8x16 sandblasted masonry block, the structure is articulated by custom steel ‘boxes’ that punctuate the wall planes taking in views and light. The upper level – much like a stacked block, is rotated 90° to respect the ideal climatic orientation and the distant views to the mountains and ASU campus beyond. This rotation is expressed in a material change, as well as a technically difficult, although seemingly simple, detail of providing no visual engagement between the upper and lower level – the boxes appear to be simply sitting one on top of the other.
The upper volume of space that houses the children’s bedrooms and guest room, is constructed as a truss that cantilevers over 20’ to create a front porch that offers shade and protection at the front door. Skinned in vertical random widths of weathered corten flat lock steel panels, the upper volume of the house connects to ground and sky through a series of window openings that are detailed as the full height of the volume – as if a series of metal panels was removed to express the glass and open the volume to light. In addition to the shade and protection created by the rotation of the upper volume of space, the rooftop of the main level of the house is accessed from the upper level – becoming a roof terrace and giving the family with four children a place to play and enjoy the night sky from above street level.
The interior spaces in the house are essential and raw in their execution. All the doors are custom fabricated from steel plate, bookshelves and a roof access ladder are also custom designed and fabricated from steel as ‘tools’ in the house. Wood plank and ground concrete floors flow through the stacked interior volumes. A two-story wall of cedar louvers is a key element of the interior space – where transparency and separation are both critical. The Bulthaup kitchen (soon to be installed) will lend to the high-level precision of the house contrasted with its raw and un-decorated walls and spaces. Clearly one of the most articulated and precise residential works of debartolo architects, the house is only becoming richer as it nears completion.
Architect: Debartolo Architects
Location: Tempe, Arizona
Project Year: 2010-2012
Project Area: 4,200 SqFt
Project Team: Jack Debartolo 3 aia, Eric Huffman, Michael Roth, Kent McClure
Structural Engineer: Rudow + Berry
Mechanical Engineer: Kunka Engineering Inc.
Civil Engineering: Atherton Engineering Inc.
Contractor: TJ Roth Construction