Early in the process of designing our home, Kylee and I were cruising the internet and saving hundreds of pictures of things we liked. But we were doing a ton of divergent exploration and virtually no convergent decision making. Once Ryan (my brother and our talented architect) got involved, that all changed.

I should pause to note that we had A LOT of help from some of Ryan’s associates at the University of Utah, who worked under Ryan’s direction. Sometimes Ryan was actually designing and other times he was providing input for the other designers. It was great to have several skilled people working on the team. Often when I refer to Ryan, I actually mean Ryan and the rest of the design team.

When Ryan graciously offered to help us with our home, he first allowed us to throw all of our first round of research and thinking at him. We sent pictures, invited him to our pin board, listed our must-haves and nice-to-haves, and held several conversations to talk about our desires for the project. Then he went away to make sense of it all. He also performed his own precedent research to provide a historical background to the exploration. When he presented the research to us, he had already started forming some real design concepts so that the conversation could quickly shift to more a more tangible and productive format. I love that he wanted the design to have a core concept to which we could always point when making design decisions in the future.

The pictures in this post are portions of the presentation Ryan made to us after completing his precedent research.

History of Desert Dwelling

First Ryan described the architectural history of Arizona, where we’re building our house. Since he already knew that we wanted to build a house that paid honor to the agricultural heritage of our neighborhood, he focused on early industrial architecture in the area – which was based on mining – and how those early structures influenced residential architecture in the early days of Arizona settlements.

Next, he described how architecture in Arizona was heavily influenced by residents who had migrated from other parts of the country. This resulted in buildings that blended traditional styles like Victorian or American Bungalow with the utilitarian look of mining structures.

Modern Desert Dwelling Interpretations

Then Ryan shared a number of pictures that showcased some modern interpretations of the mining/industrial desert residence motif.

Farm and Barn Houses

Finally, Ryan shared pictures of existing farm and barn houses and pointed out design features that are common among many of them as well as unique elements we may want to consider for our design. There was a lot of overlap between our own search and his, but the discussion definitely helped narrow our focus.

In the next post, I’ll show you some of the other background work Ryan did to help establish a strong design concept.

Dustin Smith

Author Dustin Smith

Dustin is the father of four awesome kids and works as a consultant and entrepreneur in the entertainment attractions industry.

More posts by Dustin Smith

Leave a Reply