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Looking Through It All

A flair for drama in an expansive, day-lit Phoenix home.

For its first home design in Phoenix, Charles Cunniffe Architects of Aspen, Colorado, envisioned a plan that maximized two of the desert city’s two appealing attributes: sunshine and a climate conducive to nearly eight months of indoor-outdoor living.
The result is an 8,000-square-foot contemporary home (aptly named The Phoenix) that features numerous vast expanses of glass, including large multi-slide doors that seamlessly merge the inside of the home with a large outdoor living space and a huge backyard and pool.
The Phoenix
Vast expanses of glass bathe the 8,000-square-foot home in natural light.
“The design approach was initiated based on creating a dramatic formal entry flanked by more everyday living space,” says lead architect Jim Kehoe. “And that evolved to a very open space, day-lit with floor-to-ceiling glass walls with a close connection to the landscape in the front and back.”
Kehoe’s design employed a full complement of Western Window Systems products, including a fixed Series 600 Window Wall, multiple Series 600 Multi-Slide Doors and Sliding Glass Doors, Series 900 Hinged Doors, and Series 670 Awning, Casement, and Fixed Windows. All the products, Kehoe says, fit in well with the design philosophy of Charles Cunniffe Architects because of the products’ clean appearance, minimal sightlines, and their ability to maximize glazing units.
“The design approach was initiated based on creating a dramatic formal entry flanked by more everyday living space.” Jim Kehoe, Charles Cunniffe Architects
The Phoenix
A dramatic formal entry opens to the great room, with its extra-high ceilings.
“Given the aesthetic quality the owner wanted,” he says. “Western Window Systems provided a huge advantage when you’re looking at a modern approach to the design and reductive approach to the material palette.”
The ability of Western Window Systems to create very large floor-to-ceiling glazed units meant that Kehoe could design 12- to 13-foot openings, which in the front of the house gives the appearance of the roof hovering over the main space. From wall to wall, expansive openings bring in natural light. It’s so open, in fact, that from the front yard one can see through the main living space into the backyard.
The Phoenix
Smaller pieces of glass were used in rooms requiring less natural light.
With all the large glass in the open spaces, deep overhangs became essential to the design in order cut down the heat transfer through the glass during Phoenix’s scorching summers. And in the more everyday living spaces on the east and west wings of the home, smaller pieces of glass were used because these areas require less daylight.
But’s in the dramatic entryway and main living space that take the breath away and provide a transition to an outdoor living space and the landscape beyond it.
“When you open up the back patio sliding doors, the two spaces adjacent to the patio flow directly to the outside.” Jim Kehoe, Charles Cunniffe Architects
The Phoenix
Large overhangs reduce the heat transfer during Phoenix’s hot summers.
“When you open up the back patio sliding doors,” Kehoe says, “the two spaces adjacent to the patio flow directly to the outside. And you’ve got this large overhang that creates this very high roof over an outdoor room, and those spaces just coalesce as one.”

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