This house for an astronomer in the Tucson Mountains takes full advantage of its sloping site to create a dramatic living arrangement in a harsh yet beautiful environment. Working with a minimal footprint, the stacked scheme utilizes strategic view openings as well as a vertical progression of spaces to proceed from enclosed and earthbound to lofty and skyward. An observatory on top of the hill with remote viewing inside the house completes the scheme.

Passive solar orientation creates large openings to north views with shaded glazing at south vistas that include Kitt Peak and the Tucson Mountains. Operable shade panels made from saguaro ribs control morning sunlight at the lower and upper floor east bedrooms while a small western aperture frames the colorful sunsets prominent in the Southwest. Efficiency in mechanical, enclosure and glazing systems further insure the comfort and livability of the residence.

Two exterior patios take on unique individual characters: the south floats high above the desert landscape while the north places inhabitants directly on the desert floor to look up at nearby Diamond Head Mountain. Simple geometries and rusted corrugated metal are contrasted with the varied color and texture of the Sonoran Desert.