Summer Camp for Residential Architects

The end of summer means different things to different people. For many, it is a farewell to extra daylight, porch time, and family trips. For some, it is relief from 24/7 kids. But for AIA CRAN, it means our annual symposium. I like to think of the symposium as summer camp for residential architects—four days shared with familiar and new friends, packed with educational sessions, home tours, product and service showcase booths, cocktail receptions, dinners, and everything in between.

As this year’s CRAN Chair (head camp counselor), I am thrilled to invite you to join us Sept. 11-15 at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Valley Ho is a 1956 midcentury modern hotel, located in “Old Scottsdale.” Both historic and modern, this hotel and spa is a classic example of the desert oasis midcentury vibe.

The symposium takes place at the mid-mod Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Pre-symposium activities commence Wednesday evening with a welcome reception centered on a screen presentation of CRAN component news, activities, and images of members’ work. This is a great opportunity for component leaders to learn what other groups are up to, exchange best practices, and compare notes on “what I learned in school last year.” 

Pre-symposium activities resume first thing Thursday morning with a tour of nearby Arcosanti. Here we will explore the concept of “arcology,” architecture + ecology, as envisioned by its creator, Paolo Soleri. In addition to touring the community, we will visit the planning office, see current construction, and learn about future design development with models and drawings. Established in 1970, Arcosanti remains relevant as it grapples with the real-world issues of pedestrian-scaled urban design, resource management, and consumption. Campers should remember to bring their sunscreen and to hydrate!

The official symposium kickoff takes place Thursday afternoon. After we settle down into our seats, we will open with Scottsdale architect Thamarit Suchart, AIA, of Chen+Suchart Studio, whose residential work has won several AIA Arizona awards. He will be followed by Arizona State University’s senior sustainability scientist, architect, and urban designer Duke Reiter, FAIA. He will discuss how his studio is using the challenging environment of the Southwest as a laboratory for resilience strategies. Thursday’s sessions conclude with a presentation by Brian Gaudio, Assoc. AIA, a documentary filmmaker, architect, scholar, and CEO of Module, a startup that designs and builds adaptable, modular housing solutions. Then, we are free to play.

Friday’s sessions include an equally diverse array of presentations. We will begin with landscape architect and founding director of the University of New Mexico Historic Preservation and Regionalism Program, Chris Wilson, who will discuss “Landscape/Grounding Residential Design in the Southwest: Vernacular, Revival, and Modern.” Cade Hayes, AIA, and Jesus Robles, Assoc. AIA, of the multidisciplinary firm DUST will present their work, followed by Lake/Flato’s sustainability director Heather Holdridge, Assoc. AIA, who will discuss “Toward 2030: Integrating High Performance With Design.” Mark LaLiberte will then lead a panel discussion among three pairs of architects and builders who have worked together, about the intersection of building performance, design, and client values. Friday’s sessions close with a presentation by plein air painter and instructor Joe Paquet. The evening wraps up with a beautiful sunset tour and cocktail reception at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. Begun as a hand-built laboratory for design in the desert, Taliesin continues as the home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the School of Architecture at Taliesin. After this hard day, we will all need a good night’s sleep in preparation for more activities!

Saturday will be devoted to our always-inspiring home tour. Again, remember the sunscreen! This year’s tour will feature Frank Lloyd Wright’s rugged, concrete block Price House. While it is Wright’s largest Arizona home, it still exemplifies his principles of shelter with view (prospect), interior-exterior spatial connectivity, and, perhaps most notably, honest use of materials. Our tour will also feature the personal homes of notable architects Eddie Jones, AIA, Matt Salenger, and Wendell Burnette, FAIA, as well as an iconic, midcentury modern Al Beadle home, among others. Lunch will be served at the Biltmore Hotel, famous for its “Textile Block” construction, and includes a brief tour of the Wright-inspired structure.

Sunday morning begins with a presentation by lighting designer Ann Schiffers about “Homeownership Redesigned for the 21st Century.” This will be followed by our keynote speaker, award-winning architect Wendell Burnette, whose practice is concerned with space and light, context and place, and with the environment and landscapes in which we live.

Before we send our campers home, we will conduct an AIA dues raffle. The winner must be present to win, so we hope you plan your travels accordingly. Oh, and remember to check the lost and found for missing towels and swimsuits!

We look forward to seeing you in Scottsdale.

For a full and detailed description of the symposium schedule, see the Custom Residential Architects Network community website on

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