Startin’ Spartan

Startin’ Spartan

By Jaime Gillin / Photos by Ye Rin Mok
When Jay Atherton and Cy Keener met in grad school at the University of California, Berkeley, they discovered in each other a rare constellation of common interests: minimalist architecture, rock climbing, and “not talking.” After graduation, Atherton moved back to his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, and purchased a downtown lot. Wanting to build a house, he asked Keener—a pro carpenter, then living in Colorado—to help with design and construction. Six months later, “His house became our house,” says Keener. “It became obvious the only way it would get built was if I shared the mortgage.” Atherton cackles: “I suckered him down here.” The roommates are now business partners: They founded a design firm, Atherton Keener, in 2007. On a 110-degree day, they invited us in for a tour.

Keener: When we first came to Phoenix, we realized: People move here for the "weather," but you drive around and you see that everyone is either outside squinting or inside with their shades drawn tight. So we wanted to create a house that was still connected to the outside.

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