An Architect Builds a Monumental Cor-Ten Steel Prefab for His Family in Arizona

This 5,000-square-foot home made from steel, concrete, and glass took less than five months to build—but it’ll last forever.

Architect David Hovey Jr. has been finessing his prefabrication system since graduate school. When it came to building his own home, which he shares with his wife Misty Hyman and their two-year-old daughter, prefab design was the obvious choice. The home occupies an acre of arid Arizona land in Paradise Valley, with serene views of the mountains to the west.

The perforated steel roof, made from Cor-Ten steel, offers much-needed shade for the house and courtyard.

Sun loungers by Italian brand Emu stand under the shade of the perforated steel roof. 

The house is a rectangular pavilion, constructed with a system of standardized steel components and set on a concrete slab raised 18 inches above the ground. The corrosion-resistant Cor-Ten steel elements, which have a warm reddish hue, were manufactured in two nearby factories in Phoenix.

The study has a Nakashima table, MR chairs by Knoll and a Robert Rauschenberg print.

Shop the Look 
Knoll Splay-Leg Table
George Nakashima regarded cabinetry and woodwork as a noble art form – a view evidenced in the pieces he designed for Knoll. His Splay-Leg Coffee Table (1946) exhibits his gifted sense of grain, texture and balance.
Le Corbusier and the Power of Photography
A key publication in the literature on Le Corbusier that offers a new perspective on his creative mind. The development of one of the twentieth century’s greatest architects was inextricably connected to the rise of the century’s most popular visual medium: photography.

"The Arizona Courtyard House was our fifth project [using this system]. It was a great opportunity to continue to refine and develop it," explains the architect. The steel beams and roof panels are left exposed, and their perforations gently filter in light from the desert sun. "And the flat steel roof has a nice pitter patter to it when it rains," says Hovey. 

A LC4 Chaise by Le Corbusier sits in the study, where wrestling mats cover the polished concrete floors.

Although the shell of the house is made of laminated glass, sunscreens have been added to provide additional privacy and shade. The grid beams define the ceiling and flow beyond the glass walls to the inner courtyard, interconnecting inside and out. The private interior courtyard, planted with drought-tolerant indigenous grass and shrubs, is where the family like to gather around a fire pit or on sun loungers.

The large pool—looking into the fitness area—is used by Misty to train her clients.

Linked to the house is a gym and an Olympic-sized swimming pool, where Misty, a former Olympic gold medalist, coaches her swimming clients. The edges of the interiors are softened by headboards by renowned woodworker Mira Nakashima and plenty of furniture in natural cherry, European oak, and walnut. The polished concrete floors, which proved a little too hard and slippery for their young daughter, have been covered by squishy red mats, typically used in wrestling.

The master bedroom features a Nakashima bed, bench, and coffee table with a Lauki bedside table.

Drapes in the four south-facing bedrooms, the kitchen, and the dining space add extra softness to the house. "There are several different spaces that have their own unique feel to them," says Hovey.

The kitchen features cabinetry by bulthaup and a walnut extendable bar.

The black walnut bar in the kitchen is a particular favorite. Comprised of four removable pieces that are held together by magnets, its length can be adjusted according to occasion—18 people can fit around it at most. "There’s a TV that comes down from the ceiling too," says Hovey. "It took a little bit of convincing my wife, but it ended up working out great."

Related Reading:

9 Cor-Ten Steel Homes That Have Aged to Perfection

Go Off-Grid in This Prefabricated Cor-Ten Steel Cabin

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: David Hovey Jr

Builder/general contractor: Optima

Structural engineer: PK Associates

Landscape design: Collaborative V Design Studio


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