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Morning Sky House, Guest House and Stable

MDSzerbaty+Associates Architecture LLC

Shared By







  • Michael D. Szerbaty


  • General Contractor: RG Toogood Construction, Inc.

Project Status


Year Completed



3,550 sq. feet

Construction Cost

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Project Description

The “big sky” of the desert Southwest gives sunlight a unique crispness and clarity, rendering amazing colors and shadows on the rocks and vegetation that shape the topography. It is this landscape that attracted the client and his wife several years ago to the Verde Valley, just south of Sedona.

North of Phoenix in the foothills of Mingus Mountain, the steeply sloping site has expansive views to the Sedona Red Rock country and San Francisco Peaks over 50 miles away. The slope orientation works with the spectacular panorama to the north, setting up a strategy of planning the project as a series of separate elements rising and falling with the topography, connected by terraces.

The house is nestled into the land at the high end of the 2.6 acre site. Its main entry is arrived at through a series of terraces and steps carved into the hill, constantly re-orienting you to present varying views. The 2,800 sf house is on two levels. An open plan characterizes the main house’s upper level, containing living, dining and kitchen areas. A more solid volume of playful forms define the master bedroom suite. The transparent upper level affords views not only to the valley below, but also to the mountain behind it, the backdrop for the site.

The lower floor is cut into the land with windows facing north. A sky-lit open stair connects to this level, which includes a study, guest bedroom, laundry, mechanical and storage spaces.

The horse stable and guest house is similarly carved into the slope, with a 750 sf studio floating on piers over the landscape and horse stable. It has an open kitchen with dining counter, living area, bedroom and bathroom.

Incorporating earth-tone colors and natural materials, the house disappears in the landscape. Large glass surfaces connect inside to outside. Overhangs, whose dimensions are calculated from solar angles at each orientation, maximize winter sun exposure and provide shade in summer.

The design of the house takes cues from the study of American Indian ruins found throughout the desert Southwest. Carved into the natural landscape, structures were molded with available materials. Orientation considered command of the site and respect for the power of the sun. The intersecting geometries of the structures result in dynamic webs of woven grids, interpreted in the plan of Morning Sky.
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