Writer Amanda Christmann
Photography Courtesy of Bob Bacon
Sprinkled throughout the Valley are nearly iconic landmarks that inspire nothing shy of reverence, not only for their beauty and elegance, but for the sanctity they elicit.
The Boulders Resort and Golf Club, The Princess Hotel and Conference Center, and Cochise/Geronimo Golf Clubhouse at Desert Mountain are just a few of the notable destinations that summon the beauty of the surrounding desert. From the earth-borne materials used in their creation to the thoughtful use of light, sound and modernist-inspired architecture, they celebrate all that is unique about Sonoran living.
As intriguing as these high-end planned developments, world-class resorts, exclusive golf communities and premier custom homes are, the mind behind them is equally fascinating.
Bob Bacon has been leaving a legacy of luxurious form and function through award-winning architectural design since 1968. Hailed “Master Designer of the Southwest” by Phoenix Home & Garden in 2001, he has amassed a portfolio of nearly 200 custom homes in the most breathtaking and exclusive of Valley communities, and his work can be found throughout the United States and in Canada and Japan.
However, it’s Bacon’s latest design that is turning heads, not only for its breathtaking allure, but also for its aesthetic. For the first time, Bacon’s is the sole ideology behind this home, with a design unadulterated by the ideas of investors and marketing teams.
The Bacon House is an architectural apogee—the first and only of its kind, and truly a rare and special jewel among the designer’s box of precious gems.
Bacon has carefully designed every crevice and corner of this home, and done it with his own flair and vision. In what he terms an “homage to early modernism,” he has crafted details like a spectacular negative edge reflecting pool that appears to vanish into the western horizon, and living spaces that seamlessly and stunningly integrate the indoors with the outdoors.
Bacon’s signature touches are everywhere, and they are brilliant.
“I agreed to lend my name to this home because I was completely freed from the usual third-party influences,” Bacon said. “That freedom allowed me the time to resolve and refine the design to a greater level of detail than I had ever been afforded on any home design, whether a custom build-to-suit or spec.
“I was freed from normal cost constraints and thus I could demonstrate the foundational principles of my work, express the personal values that guide my decision-making and follow my own instincts regarding the home’s style, character and appearance.”
Bacon’s name has become synonymous with homes and other realms designed with quality over quantity, practicality over fashion, and durability over expedience.
As functional as they are, Bacon’s designs also emit nearly magical qualities. Light seems to dance throughout the interiors and exteriors of Bacon’s work, and each room is its own comfortable, private realm.
Texture plays an equal to color, and there is unmatched depth and richness in how every subtle layer plays off of the others.
The Bacon House, to be constructed in the venerable Desert Mountain community in North Scottsdale, is the epitome of these characteristic qualities.
Design at Its Finest
In many ways, the luxury of the Bacon House is an ode to design, and a throwback to a time when function was just as important as distinction and individuality.
“I wanted to achieve the timeless warmth and comfortable human scale of residential architecture that existed before these qualities were progressively stripped from the vocabulary of modernism,” Bacon explained.
From a practical standpoint, the Bacon House is an engineer’s delight.
“I’ve applied my understandings of heat transfer to the psychology and physiology of human comfort in many of my designs, but none to the extent I’ve been able to incorporate these principles here,” Bacon explained.
“For example, the extensive use of stone and concrete in this home is significant to its high structural quality and durability, but it’s the well-distributed exposure of these materials to the interior spaces that plays a subtle, but equally important, role in maintaining and stabilizing the home’s comfort year-round.
“If these materials were clad with drywall or separated from the space with insulation, the capacity of their thermal mass to effectively stabilize the room’s mean radiant temperature would be deminished.
“The goal for optimal comfort is to naturally maintain the surface temperatures of each room’s enclosure and contents as uniformly as possible within the human comfort range. … When this is achieved, very little hot or cold air needs to be added.”
Yet there is more to design than efficiency, economy, and convenience. Bacon’s perspective on the human element of residential design is on display throughout the Bacon House.
“I’ve learned that some people are ardent ‘nesters’ while others are inveterate ‘exhibitors’—for lack of a better word. Increasingly, modernism has tended to favor the tastes of exhibitors for whom the display of objects and composition often takes precedence over their convenience and sometimes even their comfort.
“’Great to look at, but I wouldn’t want to live in it,’ is a refrain I frequently hear from nesters commenting on the modern homes that regularly appear in magazines. This sentiment is often followed by, ‘I like modern but can we do something warmer and more livable?’”
“Perhaps because my wife and I are both eclectic, living at times as exhibitors and at others as nesters, I’ve come to realize that many individuals, and most couples, are some mixture of both.
“Going with my gut, or refined intuition, in this design, I wanted to appeal to both personality types with a well-organized and well-composed, but more casual and forgiving environment.
“I consider this a decidedly modern but humanist approach to the design of living environments.”
A Very Special Buyer
The Bacon House is expected to attract a special and discerning buyer—one who appreciates the purpose and meaningfulness of purity within architecture.
Architecture, after all, is art, and if anyone understands how to wield a metaphorical brush, it’s Bacon.
“Of course, this home boasts all the physical comforts and conveniences today’s luxury lifestyles have come to expect, but I feel its practical livability is what sets it apart,” Bacon said.
“Its private, public and semi-public functions have been thoughtfully arranged on two levels with convenient adjacencies and appropriate separations. Suitable for a young couple, a growing family or mature professionals who enjoy entertaining and recreation, the home lives as large or as small as may be required by its owners.
“No having to walk through or around empty rooms; no need to walk past guest or children’s bedrooms and living areas; no need to turn down the music or TV from a loud party downstairs while quite conversations are occurring above.”
Bacon has worked with Kurt Wolslagel to prepare technical documentation and engineering coordination, and Stephen Sanmarco to create digital renderings that define a highly nuanced level of realistic detail.
Bacon appears just as enthusiastic about meeting the home’s buyers as he is to bring life to his extraordinary 3D renderings.
“Given their attraction to the architecture, I’ll be able to infer a great deal about the buyers’ general aesthetics, but I’ll begin meeting with them upon purchase to learn of their particular color preferences, their tastes in art, and many other important subtleties that reflect their individual tastes and values.
“These personal items will be curated and collected during the construction process involving the buyers only to the extent they wish to participate.”
Though unusual, selling a home by rendering is the most logical way for Bacon to represent his work. Rather than waiting for input, he is able to showcase his own ideas, allowing a buyer to envision his ideas before they are adulterated by outside influence. In essence, the buyer can see the entirety of the vision.
“First, I wanted to create and deliver a completely immersive environment and experience.
“Second, I wanted to fully demonstrate the modern vision of the home and curate a collection of contents representing the best of 20th-century modernism.
“Finally, I wanted to deliver the time-saving and stress-free convenience to our buyer of moving into a home that can be fully enjoyed from the first moment of possession—no searching for the corkscrew, or making special trips to stock the home with tools, equipment and supplies.”
To prove the home’s readiness to deliver the convenience and comfort expected of a luxury lifestyle, Bacon will provide a thorough walk-thru of home to show the new owners where everything is and how everything works. He will also cater a memorable first-class, multi-course dinner for the new owners and eight of their guests.
The warm welcome is just another unexpected yet delightful Bacon touch.
“The Bacon House at Desert Mountain is truly unique in its minimal level of external compromise, and thus conveys my principles and values with a very rare degree of fidelity and design integrity,” the designer said.
“More broadly, I believe these intangible qualities better assure the buyer an enduring monetary value but, just as importantly, enriches their appreciation of their home as a meaningful and purposeful work of architectural art.”