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Carey Sweet | Photo: Dino Tonn | March 6, 2014
Luxury-home pros collaborate on a statement-making residence.
Apologies to Frank Lloyd Wright, but as gorgeous as his Taliesin West project in Scottsdale is, parts of it could use a tiny touch of finesse. As is to be expected by a largely student-built project on minimal budget, there are bits of mismatched materials here and there on the home and academic campus, and an expert can detect a few uneven lines amid the stunning architecture.
That’s why Erik Peterson of PHX Architecture in Scottsdale calls the design he created for Ron and Pat Mangelsdorf’s DC Ranch home a “Frank Lloyd Wright reinterpretation.” The look can certainly be deemed a salute to the master, yet one that’s been updated to the modern standards of a luxury residence.
“It’s got cleaner lines and straighter edges,” says Peterson, who interned at Taliesin Architects in the mid ’90s. Not to mention, it showcases features which Wright may have only been capable of seeing in his dreams—amenities such as a wine cellar, a sleigh-shaped tub in the master bath, an outdoor kitchen near the pool, a spa and a fire pit.
No one could be happier than Ron, a retired entrepreneur who wanted a statement second home away from his native Chicago. After an anticipatory year and a half of construction, he and his wife moved into their finished retreat in January 2013.
“Pat and I wanted a connection with the desert, and to feel the outdoors from every room,” Ron says. “We didn’t want the typical Tuscan look, but more prairie style.”
Mission accomplished. Nearly every room, including the master bath, offers expansive views of the serene Sonoran landscape surrounding the Country Club neighborhood near Pinnacle Peak. As builder Anthony Salcito of Scottsdale’s Salcito Custom Homes explains, the key was a minimal use of walls and a maximum use of windows, with carefully engineered overhangs so that the sun just nudges inside during the summer months, yet floods the rooms in winter. The coverings also add patio shade, expanding the 3,620-square-foot home to a total of 5,750 under roof.
“Ron wanted to be in one place all the time,” Salcito says. “So the rooms flow together inside, and to the outside. He can be in his office and have a Captain Kirk’s view across the dining room; the living room and kitchen; through the backyard and the natural desert; and over the golf course.”
Much of the home’s dramatic visual impact comes from the central great room located beneath an angled cantilever and accessed through a towering, leaded glass front door flanked by gabion columns filled with large, multicolor rocks. “It’s like a pavilion,” says Peterson. “The home appears to float above space, with the roof line and windows angled toward the McDowell Mountains and a field of saguaro.”
The inspiration for the overall residence was the result of some focused daydreaming; the Mangelsdorfs tried to imagine what might be involved in a perfect day spent at home. “Pat and I knew we would want to start by seeing the desert at dawn, over coffee, and then track how it changed all through the day,” Ron says.
And as their perfect day would also include entertaining friends and family, the couple wanted sophisticated yet casual and comfortable gathering areas. With that in mind, designer Larry Lake of Scottsdale’s Lawrence Lake Interiors aimed to keep the aesthetics warm yet uncluttered, and sleek yet fun. Design elements therefore include a long white dining table set with contemporary swivel stools in the kitchen and—one of the Mangelsdorfs’ favorite features—the playful bubble-style tile in the master shower and wet room.
That natural materials should be respected and resources should be protected were two additional important considerations for the homeowners. Custom copper fascia, fireplace trim and kitchen hood panels are made of Arizona copper. And the floor tile that accents the hardwood floor spaces is natural stone. The extensive exterior and interior stone accents were even sourced locally.
“The stone for the walls came from the hill right above our house,” Mangelsdorf said, referring to foundation work that was being done for the DC Ranch Silverado neighborhood. “We tried to keep everything as local as possible, and I think it worked very well. Our home feels in harmony with the desert.”