Perhaps nowhere is the blending of modernity and the tradition of earth building more evident than at the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Casa Grande was constructed between ad 1200-1450 by the Native American Hohokam near Phoenix, Arizona. In 1928, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., son of Frederick Law Olmsted the landscape architect most famous for the earthwork of Central Park in New York City, was acting as an adviser to the National Park Service. The desire by the National Park service was to create a shelter that both protected the ruins, while allowing them to have hierarchical presence. The Olmsted Jr. design was completed on December 12, 1932.
The Design+Research+Build program at the University of Arizona has constructed several projects in rammed earth. Visit the programs website.
This 34,000 square-foot spa facility in Sedona, Arizona by Gluckman Mayner Architects is comprised of a main treatment building and six freestsanding residential buildings. The main building’s five adobe brick clad towers contain treatment rooms and anchor the complex in the landscape. See more of this commercial project at www.gluckmanmayner.com
The House of Earth and Light, a private residence designed by Iraq-born, Phoenix Architect Marwan Al-Sayed uses a 3-layer fabric roof to bring tension and lightness to the thick poured gypsum walls. Computer renderings of the building show the proposed quality of the architecture. More information can be found here in an article by the Industrial Fabrics Association International (.pdf format).
Old Adobe Church, Old Tucson, Tucson Mtn. Park. Tucson Arizona. Date unknown.
Photo of Ehrenberg, Arizona, once the largest town in Yuma County and chief distributing port for Arizona on the Colorado River, circa 1908
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.