Building Bonanza

Architecture Week returns to bring the good-design word to the masses

Almost two years to the day after Rafael Viñoly first revealed his vision of a Rainbow Bridge to Tucson, the famed architect will be back in town to speak.

At the culmination of a series of events celebrating Architecture Week, Viñoly will give an address at the UA on Saturday, Oct. 7. Odds are the Argentine-born architect will at least mention the controversial bridge, which was recently scuttled by brand-new UA President Robert Shelton.

"I believe he will touch on the science bridge," says Joseph Maher, the architect who is chairing the annual Architecture Week festivities of the Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. "It would be enlightening to hear about it from the architect himself. But sometimes, the speakers talk about their work overall, and he's done work around the world."

Viñoly's New York office was unable to provide details on his speech by press time.

The opalescent arch would have soared above the planned UA Science Center in the Rio Nuevo district downtown. Two years ago, the starstruck audience at Viñoly's first public presentation was dazzled by the proposal, which the architect said was inspired by arcing natural phenomena of the Southwest, from stone arches to giant rainbows. Viñoly's arch would have spanned the Santa Cruz River bank to bank, and the museum would have been suspended on cables from the arch.

Projected costs increased exponentially as time went on, and Shelton--already confronted by the university's budget deficit, overcrowded classes and stagnant salaries--canceled the bridge component. The science museum is still a go, so far, and Viñoly, along with local architect James Gresham, remains the architect for that project, Maher says.

The star architect is just the headliner in a weeklong series of speakers and events meant to enlighten the general public about the value of good architecture. Starting this weekend, the architectural menu includes exhibitions, lectures and the always-popular home tour. Everything is free except for the home tour on Sunday, Oct. 8; proceeds from the $20 tickets will benefit Habitat for Humanity.

"Architecture Week is our outreach to the community," Maher says. "It's meant to raise an awareness and an appreciation of architecture. There's something of a mystery about us, and people get the chance to bump into architects."

If Viñoly's typical work is visionary and large-scale, many of the week's offerings concentrate on the affordable and the small-scale. The official theme is "Architecture on the Edge: Innovation, Engagement, Inspiration," but an important subtext is remodeling.

The self-guided home tour showcases older houses that have been renovated, and the lectures skew toward advice on how homeowners can fix up the houses they already have.

For instance, architect Diane Krebs Carhuff will give two talks on remodeling. In the first one, Monday, Oct. 2, she'll cover technical headaches, such as zoning and septic systems, and finding a general contractor. She'll follow up on Wednesday, Oct. 4, with the fun stuff of aesthetics and design. (For times and places of all activities, see the accompanying box.)

On Thursday, Oct. 5, Susan Schaefer Kliman, an architect who currently heads the AIA chapter, will team up with contractor John Petrole to offer guidance on the pitfalls of rehab. The pair will lead the audience through typical construction scenarios and the dreaded "unexpected existing conditions."

The self-guided home tour, on Sunday, Oct. 7, will show off finished renovations that are well past the headache stage. Visitors can tour Rob Paulus' Ice House Lofts, just south and east of downtown. Recent winner of a Sonoran Institute Building From the Best award, the project converted an old warehouse into sleek living spaces with prime views of the railroad tracks.

Also on the tour is the Fuentevilla House, first designed in the 1950s by William Wilde, an important modernist architect in post-war Tucson. Over the years, Wilde's spare lines were gussied up by a cowboy aesthetic; current owners (and architects) Sonya Sotinsky and Miguel Fuentevilla of FORS Architecture dispensed with the dark saloon décor, added sand-blasted glass and opened the place up to the light.

Other houses include the Marley House, redesigned by Swaim and Associates to create a new dining room with mountain views, and the Muramoto/Taren house, renovated by Bil Taylor Architect-Builder in a spare Asian style. Chuck Albanese, current dean of the UA College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, opens up his own house, whose rehab he designed himself.

The same day that Viñoly will touch on his soaring spaces--from the Kimmel Center, a gargantuan music hall in Philadelphia, to the Tokyo International Forum, an internationally sized performing arts and convention center--local architect Frank Mascia will talk about living elegantly in small spaces.

His talk, "Turning Minimum Space Into Maximum Living," explains how good home design does not have to bloat up to McMansion size. Mascia himself lives in a 900-square-foot house he designed for a double lot in central Tucson; his wife lives alongside him in a second 900-square-foot house. (The houses are featured in the book Good House/Cheap House: Adventures in Creating an Extraordinary Home at an Ordinary Price by Kira Obolensky.) Mascia will lead a tour of his houses after his talk.

"I grew up in a bungalow in California that was 900 square feet," he says, "with my mom and dad and my sister, and none of us died. There's this giantism that people get into. It's bizarre. That's why houses cost what they cost. Affordable housing starts with making it the right size.

"Small is beautiful. It doesn't have to be big and splashy to be amazing."

Architecture Week


Free exhibitions:

Work of Local Architects:

Park Place Mall, 5870 E. Broadway Blvd., 514-5377, near Sears, through Friday, Sept. 29.

Foothills Mall, 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd., 742-7191, near the food court, Saturday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 8.

KIDSTRUCTION: "Tomorrow's Architects." Designs for Rio Nuevo housing by local schoolchildren, Foothills Mall, Saturday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 8. Judging and awards ceremony 9 a.m. to noon, Sept. 30.

Free lectures:

• "Ready, Set, Remodel: Engagement," 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 2, Murphy-Wilmot Branch Library, 530 N. Wilmot Road, 791-4627. Part one of a two-part lecture by architect Diane Krebs Carhuff.

• "Dream Homes: Designs to Inspire," 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 3, Dusenberry-River Branch Library, 5605 E. River Road, 791-4979. Discussion and Q&A with Tucson architects Evan S. Eglin, Michael Franks and Ron Robinette.

• "Ready, Set, Remodel: Proceed," 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 4, Murphy-Wilmot Branch Library, 530 N. Wilmot Road, 791-4627. Part two of two-part lecture by Diane Krebs Carhuff.

• "Caution: Remodeling Ahead," 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 5, Kirk-Bear Canyon Library, 8959 E. Tanque Verde Road, 791-5021. Talk by architect Susan Schaefer Kliman and contractor John Petrole.

• "Turning Minimum Space Into Maximum Living," noon, Saturday, Oct. 7, Himmel Library, 1035 N Treat Ave., 791-4397. Talk by architect Frank Mascia, followed by tour of his own nearby home.

• Keynote Address, 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, UA Integrated Learning Center. Talk by architect Rafael Viñoly.


• A Campus Walking Tour, 10 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 7. Free tour of modern buildings, led by UA architecture professor Anne Nequette, co-author of A Guide to Tucson Architecture. Meet on the steps of the architecture building, south of the underpass from the Park Avenue garage. Limited to 25 people; reservations required; call 323-2191.

• 14th Annual Home Architecture Tour, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 8. Self-guided tour of residences with major additions and/or renovations. $20, benefits Habitat for Humanity. For tickets, call 323-2191 or e-mail, or buy tickets in person at various locations.

Cocktail Reception:

5 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6, top floor of Pennington Street Garage, 110 E. Pennington St., at Sixth Street. Sponsored by the Sonoran Institute and Southern Arizona chapter of the American Institute of Architects; live music, drinks and appetizers, with info on the Sonoran Institute's Building From the Best program.

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