Desert Works


Rick Joy: Desert Works contains masterfully modern designs in rammed earth by this Tucson, Arizona based architect. Joy uses color, texture, and materials to turn the six houses shown here into spare and subtle evidence of humanity in a vast natural world. He uses a similar approach, with expanded functionality, in the three studio/office designs that complete this book. The quiet of the settings and the simplicity of Joy’s approach are perfect partners in producing architecture appropriate to a vast, unpeopled place.


CRATerre-EAG, The Center for the Research and Application of Earth Architecture, is part of the School of Architecture of Grenoble, France, which offers the only Masters Degree in Earth Architecture in the world. The website is only in French, but you can translate at babelfish.

Ronald Reagan

Rancho del Cielo, the former Western White House of the former president Ronald Reagan, where he spent more than a full year of his eight years in office, was first named Rancho de los Picos after Spanish settler Jose Jesus Pico, the last Mexican Governor of Alta California, who moved north from Mexico and built the original adobe house in 1871. The Pico family owned the property until 1941, when it was sold to Frank Flournoy for $6,000, who named the property Tip Top Ranch. In 1955, Roy and Rosalie Cornelius bought the ranch and purchased additional land to add to the property. The Reagans bought the 680-acre ranch in 1974 for $527,000, when Reagan’s second term as governor of California was coming to an end. The Young America’s Foundation bought the Ranch in 1998 to preserve it as an historical site.

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein was born in Tikrit, Iraq on April 28, 1937 and grew up in the town of Al Dawr, a mud-brick town on the banks of the Tigris River. Adobe dwellings in Iraq date back as far as 8000 b.c. The earliest known form molded adobe blocks are also in Iraq (5600 b.c).

Tucson Adobes


This photo-postcard from 1906 shows several adobe buildings in Tucson, Arizona including Hotel Hall with its wide balconies.