Garcia Residence


Location: Tucson, AZ
Year Completed: 2001 (Pool: 2003)

Square Footage: 2150 sq ft

Photographer: Bill Timmerman

Structural: Caruso Turley Scott

Mechanical / Electrical: Paul Formentini

Plumbing: Ross Mellencamp

Contractor: Repp Design + Construction

Landscape: Ibarra Landscapes

The challenges of a difficult site can either be seen as a liability or an asset, depending on your outlook. These sites often yield very exciting designs if you respect the “rules” of the land. The challenge in working with these sites is to harness the energy and spatial qualities that are already there without damaging or dominatingthem.

The Garcia Residence site is a steep, north-facing slope in the foothills of the Tucson Mountains with inspiring views of the city lights and surrounding mountains.

The large areas of bedrock and minimal topsoil were the first clue that our desire to lay low in the landscape would not be simple, neither vegetation nor excavation would be of much help. Instead, our strategy was to design a structure that appears to grow out of the hill, like a habitable outcropping with vertical and horizontal fissures to provide both prospect and refuge.

The axis of the house is set parallel to the site contours so that the house’s program could be organized into three narrow terraces that gradually climb up the hill. Each terrace contains one of the three zones of the house: living, circulating, and sleeping.

The middle bay is the entry gallery, serving as a circulation corridor as well as an extension of the living spaces below. Like the prow of a ship, the entry level is a welcoming invitation down to the living, dining, and kitchen spaces on the lowest platform, or the bedrooms on the upper level.

The commanding city view justified the break from the house axis to rotate the main living room window toward the remarkable view of the Tucson lights and the Catalina Mountains. This facade sits like a lantern watching the monsoon storms roll across the valley below.

On the upper level, splitting the master suite from the other two bedrooms creates a small intimate courtyard that provides both a view up the ridge as well as allows the southern sun to cast light down to the living spaces below.

The material palette of sandblasted Integra block, raw steel, birch and concrete is intended to be as raw and as rugged as the land on which it sits, durable and responsive to the desert’s bold colors and textures.

Get a Daily Dose of Design

Sign up for the Dwell Daily Newsletter and never miss our new features, photos, home tours, stories, and more.