Rae Douglass purchased an existing house on Blanton Drive in 1997 as an investment. Shortly after this Rae decided to relocate to Tucson and inhabit the house, so that he would have a base of operations more convenient to his increasing number of commissions on the mainland. After living in the house for a few years Rae started construction on a major addition and renovation to the house that would triple the size of the 700 sf house and give him a live work space.
Rae has developed a deep sense of the way that good architecture must be a direct expression of the lifestyle of its inhabitants. A structure must relate to its context, and a sense of economy rooted in a firm understanding of craft and the abilities of a region. Living in the Existing house for 3 years prior to construction, gave Rae a unique understanding of his property and La Madera Neighborhood. The addition was placed to maximize usable open space and protect the property from the harsh afternoon sun. The plan is arranged to have a seamless flow of interior and exterior space with a large summer kitchen at its heart. The summer kitchen stitches the front house together with the studio space in the rear, all of which are sheltered by a continuous roof. The plan of the addition is that of an elongated Dog Trot, with most windows oriented to the north and south.
Due to limited funds, Rae acted as the general contractor, and employed various skilled artists and craftsmen which he had worked with on previous projects. All of the fenestration including the large glass, redwood and steel pivot doors of the summer kitchen, were designed by Rae and fabricated by Brian Horton who is a sculptor and skilled metal worker. The pivot doors are essential to the flow of space and when fully open act as an acoustic band-shell when the space is used as a stage during parties. They weigh over 800 lbs each, but open effortlessly due to lead counterweights and ball bearing pivots.
The ceiling and eastern wall are paneled in rough sawn planks that came from old growth Ponderosa Pine trees that had previously died in place due to fire or disease. The paneling was provided by a one man lumber mill located near the Gila National forest of New Mexico. Brian Meyers of Sun Bear construction who was hired to frame the house knew of this lumber mill. These along with many other close working relationships created a design build team that was instrumental in building 1400 SF of architecture for under $100,000.