When Vancouver-based architect Jesse Garlick was growing up, his family used to take him sailing. Those aquatic outings instilled a love of solitude, design, and self-sufficiency that inspired him to join his profession. But when Garlick and his wife, Susan Elliott, decided to build a vacation retreat, they chose a different kind of geography and challenge: a prefabricated, off-the-grid home in eastern Washington’s high desert.
The kitchen island is topped with PaperStone in slate and wrapped in the same steel used to clad the house’s facade. “We matched the color to create a ‘2001: Space Odyssey’ monolith,” Garlick says. He and his wife, Susan Elliott, a chef, cook at the commercial Wolf range they purchased at a restaurant supply store.
Renowned for its iconic midcentury architecture and legendary celebrity habitués—Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Bob Hope, and Elizabeth Taylor among them—the Southern California desert, with its dry air and dramatic landscape, has long been a draw for Hollywood. Architect Sean Lockyer designed this house and cited Richard Neutra’s celebrated Kaufmann House, in Palm Springs, just 30 minutes away, as a point of inspiration.
Floor-to-ceiling windows highlight the native plantings and landscape.
At the base of Echo Mountain in Phoenix, a geometric home by Wendell Burnette opens up to the surrounding desert landscape. “One volume gets the city and the valley,” says Burnette, “and the pool frames nothing but sky. There’s a dialogue experientially between these two elemental volumes. They talk to each other.”
For the landscape design, Burnette sought to maintain the property’s natural vegetation and rocky ground surface.
Jim Murren’s prefab house in Sin City, designed by Marmol Radziner, is as artful as it is art-filled, thanks to an asymmetrical arrangement of solids and voids.
Murren chose maintenance-free materials, such as Stepstone precast concrete pavers for exterior decks and river-rock-covered flat roofs. He recalls his neighbors’ astonishment and delight when “we went from a giant hole in the ground to a two-story house in just four days.”
Architect Maurice McKenzie was inspired by symmetrical design, and the resulting linear and stark-white architecture makes a statement against the dry desert terrain. Photo by: JUCO
The interiors are kitted out with midcentury furniture befitting the architecture.