Pools Are Cool in the Desert Summer

During the Arizona summers, a pool is on the must list!  We have created a Best of UDA Outdoor Living Countdown to showcase some of the top water feature design trends and spectacular pools we have completed over the years.   Check back daily to see some of these top pool trends brought to life by UDA.

Top Pool Trends:

  1. The Negative Edge – Always a traditional favorite, and easy to update to today’s contemporary designs.  Known as an infinity edge or vanishing edge, these pools are best suited for a hillside lot with a spectacular view across the water.
  2. Play pools – Also known as “spools” (spa and pool combined), are great for smaller lots, families with children, and someone wanting less maintenance.  Perfect for the lock and leave property.
  3. Lap pool – For the athlete or aspiring athlete, the inherit geometry of the long, linear pool is a great fit in modern estates.
  4. Baja Shelf, Alligator Bench, or Tanning Ledge – It has many names, but is essentially a large shallow area big enough to lounge or play in a safe spot next to a deeper pool.  Add a trellis above, and you can relax all day!
  5. Reverse Negative Edge – This is where the waterline and the pool deck are at the same level, giving the visual effect of one plain.   The water can be very close, appearing to touch a building. This is very popular in resort pools.
  6. Beach Entry – A continual slope into the water is both practical and dramatic.
  7. Cantilevered Pools with Glass – If there is no budget, this is the rock star of pool design.  Make it float and then make it see through!
  8. Energy Efficient – There is a new generation of “green” mechanical and electrical equipment: Automatic covers, variable speed pumps, automated cleaning, and LED lighting.
  9. ANYTHING but Plaster & Kool Deck – There is a huge new palette of pool materials from glass tiles, natural stone coping, beadcrete, pebbletec, to black bottoms. Different is better.
  10. The Natural Pool – This is the most interesting development in the pool world. Out with the chlorine, the salt, and even the mineral treatments. Natural pools create an ecosystem of aquatic plants to keep the water clean and purified.

Enjoy the Countdown!


Pool Views

Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Lee Hutchison Homes for Sale at Desert Mountain!


If you have always wanted to be the proud owner of a Lee Hutchison design, there are currently two on the market at Desert Mountain!


Desert Mountain


Description: All the attributes of a true Lee Hutchison design with the creative interiors of Jan Sanders. When you visit the Desert Mountain home, you will be truly impressed with both the outstanding detail and the setting.

Listed By: Scott Biller at HomeSmart

For more information and pictures please visit: phoenixrealestateseeker.com


Desert Mountain II

Description: Striking contemporary mountain ranch style home, nestles high in the Village of Saguaro Forest. Designed by Lee Hutchison and Build by the Phil Nichols Company, this home exhibits the ease of indoor/outdoor living that appeals to Desert Mountain owners. The extensive use of native stone and wood enhance the warmth of this open plan. Stunning golf, mountain, sunset and city views are enjoyed from the multiple patios.

Listed By: The Power of 4

For more information and pictures please visit: tours.tourfactory.com


Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Top 100 Urban Planning Blogs

Top 100 Architecture blogs

We are proud to announce Urban Design Associates has been name one of the Top 100 Urban Planning Blogs, AND we are still one of the Top 100 Architecture Blogs!

Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

3 Steps to a Luxurious Indoor-Outdoor Lifestyle

The joys of living in the Southwest come from the dry, warm weather and the opportunity to move life outside for most of the year. Expanding a living area outdoors, no matter the location, helps everyone connect with nature and fully take advantage of a property’s best features.

Step 1: Know your Site

The first step to indoor-outdoor living is to have a comprehensive understanding of the site. Be sure to take both physical elements (i.e., slope of the land, soil composition, and views) and climactic factors (i.e., sun orientation and local breezes) into consideration when creating the perfect flow of space from inside to outside. This will help you utilize all aspects of the land.

Step 2: Create a Transitional Indoor Floor Plan

Open floor plans work best when creating a seamless indoor-outdoor transition. The unhindered view can then be used to draw people outside. To establish a relationship between rooms, the same flooring should be used without interruption. Extending the floor’s surface and ceiling plane outside unifies all living areas and creates a natural flow.

Step 3: Seclude the Outdoor Living Spaces

Outdoor living spaces should be carefully crafted to protect residents from intrusive weather or neighbors, but still feel open and linked to the surroundings. Vegetation and trellises provide privacy without obstructing views, while the calm bubbling of water features cover any unwanted noise pollution. Sitting areas need to feel secluded and have a fireplace, making the space inviting year-round.

There is an art to the perfect indoor-outdoor design, but it can be achieved with careful examination of the environment and the home owner’s daily routine. It doesn’t need to be filled with grandeur or innovative components to be a success. A well-executed house may be stunning, but its daily functionality is what will make it truly a home.

Indoor-Outdoor Living-600


Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

We’re Expanding!

We are pleased to announce our newest Marketing and Administrative Assistant: Caitlin Jackson! Between her seven years of administrative background and her multiple degrees (AA in Fine Art from Scottsdale Community College & BS in Sustainability with a minor in Landscape Architecture from Arizona State University), we know she will be a valuable addition to our team.

If you are wanting to be a part of Urban Design Associates, you’re in luck! We are currently looking to fill a full-time architect/project manager position. The ideal candidate will be a licensed architect or architectural graduate with 10+ years of residential construction field experience. This position is responsible for overall project management for a variety of projects including technical design development, construction document production and coordination, consultant scheduling, and budgeting.

Besides working with an award winning firm, we offer competitive hourly wages and generous benefits including health care and continuing education. We strive to provide a fun yet productive environment for our employees to enhance their professional and personal growth. At UDA, we are more than an architecture firm, we are a family.


Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

Prepare to be Summer-ized!

unsplash-sai-kiran-anagani-209542-375It’s official, summer has arrived! Our days of big jackets and snow are behind us, and the season of swimming and barbeques is here. This is great news for everyone but, if you are a homeowner, there are a few more things you need to do besides buy a new bikini. Between the relentless heat and impending monsoon season, you have to ensure your home is in tip-top shape.

1. Test/Update your AC Unit & Thermostat
Now is the time to test your AC unit, since it is better to fix any issues before the temperature sky rockets. If your unit is 10-15 years old, you should consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient, dependable model.

While you are at it, installing a programmable or smart thermostat is also a great way to save energy and money in the long run.

2. Inspect your Roof & Clean/Repair Your Gutters
You don’t want to be hit with surprise leaks or water damage, so take the time to remove debris and fix anything not in working condition.

3. Seal all Windows & Doors
During the winter, it is common for windows and doors to slightly separate from their frames. Sealing these gaps will keep your cool air in and the hot air OUT.

4. Create a Bug Barrier
A lot of bugs hibernate during the winter months, but are quite active in the summer. Besides making sure there aren’t any gaps or cracks for them to enter, consider spraying your outdoor perimeter with a pesticide or natural repellent.

5. Don’t Forget your Garden!
The sun is also tough on your plants, so do everything you can to keep the soil moist. The best option is to install a drip irrigation system on a timer.

6. Prep your Outdoor Living Spaces
It’s not all about staying cool and saving energy. You also have to get ready for all the summer fun you are about to have. Clean your grill, pool and patio furniture so they are ready-to-go for any spontaneous get-togethers. Maybe even add some bright colored pillows or outdoor rug to bump up the décor. Remember to create outdoor storage to stash decor during desert monsoons and dust storms.

7. Remember the Little Things
There are other little things you can do around your house to help you stay cool and reduce your electricity bill. For instance, changing your air filters monthly prevents the restriction of airflow and changing the direction of your fan causes a cool breeze effect. Now might also be a good time to change any of your older bulbs to CFLs. Since they waste less energy on heat, they help keep your home cooler.

8. Contact your HOA
Check with your Home Owner Association about service companies to take care of your property, while you escape the summer heat.

Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

The Joy is in the Details

Recently we have noticed the trend toward “right-sizing,” “down-sizing,” and “lock and leave” homes has become more the rule.  Many architects and designers would agree that the more challenging, more engaging project, is not necessarily the seemingly complex larger ones.  I LOVE the smaller projects; we call them “jewel box” architecture.  Every detail counts, every inch counts.  They take both restraint and creativity on a different level.

The key to making the small move extraordinary is balance and contrast in geometry, color, or texture.  Below are some images from our smaller, infill projects, mostly remodels that all have an intimate yet glamorous, important feeling.

So do not think, oh this project is too small, or not interesting enough for an architect or a design.  Propose the challenge and I bet you will LOVE what you get in return.

Living Room Fireplace TV kk Courtyard Trellis kk Bliss Private Patio
Bliss Powder Room 143K7968 143K3480


Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

Lee is an Icon

We always knew it was true, Lee is an Icon, but it was fantastic to be recognized by the Design and Building Industry leaders to make it official.  Sources for Design is a digital magazine making waves in the Arizona Luxury Construction field.  Each issue features 7 industry Icons: project, architect, interior designer, builder, landscape architect, product, and service.  This fourth issue puts Lee in great company with the architectural Icons: Eddie Jones, Vern Swaback, and Michael Johnson.

Lee was recognized for creating a style of architecture all his own “Organic Pueblo,” a term he also coined.  His deep understanding of the Southwest’s light, landforms, and lifestyle show up in every home.  His compassion for his clients and his passion to create beauty continue to manifest in spaces designed for renewal and joyful celebration.

On April 6, 2017 the design community came together for the launch of issue 4 and to congratulate the new class of Icons.  Larry Lake, the magazine’s publisher and local interior designer, created a warm, entertaining evening of indoor/outdoor festivities at Fergusons in Scottsdale.  Each guest was given an autograph book and the perfect “in” to go meet the Icons while collecting signatures.  Urban Design Associates staff, colleagues, past and present clients all gathered to give Lee some extra love for his long standing, successful, and inspiring body of architectural work.  Take a look at Sources for Design Issue 4: http://sourcesfordesign.com/issue4


Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

Amazing home


Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

Spring in the Valley of the Sun

Spring in desert is one of the most beautiful times of the year!  The weather is perfect for outdoor events and the flowers are all in bloom (without the April showers).  We have compiled some of the events we are looking forward to this month.  Take a look and we hope to see you around town.




Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

Education In Practice

Our team at Urban Design is always looking to further the education of our staff, our clients, and our community on the value that architecture has in our world.  We do this in many ways from staff and client field trips, as a member of ARA (Arizona Residential Architects), sponsoring employee education, in office training, to working with Architecture In Schools, and donating to Free Arts of Arizona.  We truly believe that the creation of beautiful places elevates the human condition and can inspire everyday life. So while staying on top of the newest and greatest architectural products and technologies out there is a top priority, to bring the best to our clients, celebrating the art of architecture and sharing the joy of creating living spaces is our true calling.  We are planning a series of educational community events and polishing up a webinar, keep an eye out for more updates!

education field trip

Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

Dream Home Sites Are Available

It is coming to the end of High Season here in the Valley, and while a deal can always be struck, many of the available lots go off the market for the summer.  We have partnered with a few of the top realtors to come up with preliminary designs for some of the “hidden gem” lots in the best neighborhoods of North Scottsdale.  We are happy to walk lots with potential clients to make sure you find the perfect place to start your dream home.  These plans are a great starting point, but always very customizable!  Give us a call to schedule a site tour!

    dream home newsletter image and 1 plan Mirabel Lot 94 Site Plan Option 2     dream home 2

 dream home 3

Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

Architectural Styles

Urban Design Associates is known for integrating many styles of architecture to fit our client’s personalities. We can work in ultra-contemporary to Lee’s signature style “organic pueblo” to traditional European or mix them all together!

The key element for us is to listen; listen to our clients and listen to the land to create a space that was meant to be, perfectly in its location. We start with the function of the floor plan and develop style. Our designs are characterized as living spaces that flow effortlessly between indoors and outdoors using local materials in unusual ways.

Right now we have an eclectic collection of work on our drawing boards – just the way we like it! If you are trying to narrow your style into words please click here for our photo dictionary of architectural terms.

ultra modern organic pueblo mountain contemporary

Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

Women in Architecture


1     2     3

Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

Design Process

The Design Process forms the structure needed to build your home, but it can also ease your mind, be creative and fun.

2 Aerial Site Plan.psdDreaming of designing and building your own home? Many of us do, but it can be a stressful situation. There is eagerness to see the dream become a reality, mixed with the chaos of watching it get built. Hiring an architect provides you many benefits when it comes to making your dreams come true, and one of those benefits is taking stressful situations from your hands, so you can focus on the enjoyable parts like designing your home.

What is Schematic Design? They look like doodles….

Schematic design is just the beginning when Urban Design Associates builds your dream home. During this phase, we will discuss with you — your wants and goals.

When developing the program for your home, we create illustrative concepts and spatial relationships of the program on the site. We conduct research on zoning and design restrictions at your location.

By the end of the process, cost and estimates will be delivered based on the scope of the work.

The deliverables you will have at the end the schematic phase include:

  • Surrounding Views: (Mountains / City Lights) Sun Direction
  • Site Analysis / Zoning Code Check
  • Site Plan
  • Floor Plan
  • Concept Exterior Elevations
  • Other illustrative materials

What is Design Development? Hey, that kinda looks like a house….

After the schematic designs have been completed, the next step is the design development stage. At this stage, Urban Design Associates takes extra care to begin bringing your dream home into reality.

We will sit down with you, and between us, begin developing specific design elements for your home. This usually consists of deciding on exterior materials that will be used and the specification of items like appliances, fixtures, windows and doors.

The deliverables you should have by the end of the design development stage includes:

  • Floor plans
  • Sections
  • Exterior & Interior Elevations
  • Door and Window Details
  • Material Specifications

What is Construction Documents? I’m actually building a home….

Construction documents are detailed approval documents, drawings, and specifications as needed for constructing a building. They serve a couple of purposes: getting permits from the city design review board and constructing your home.

Urban Design Associates uses the plans, specifications and supporting documents to translate your ideas into your dream house. These documents are also used for the next step, which is the bidding phase.

The deliverables you should have by the end of the construction document stage includes:

  • Complete Set of Drawings
  • Construction Details
  • Specification Book
  • City Permit Approval
  • Design Review Approval
  • Structural | Mechanical | Electrical Drawings

What is Bidding and Negotiations? The numbers are in….

During the bidding | negotiating phase, the architects changes roles from a service provider to a consultant.

Urban Design Associates releases your construction documents to qualified contractors, and after cost submittals are returned, we begin renegotiating. Once the contract is finalized, it can be signed and construction can begin.

204-91-9The deliverables you should have by the end of the bidding and negotiating stage includes:

  • Bid: Proposed price the contractor offers to complete a project
  • Negotiation: Architect reviews offer made for more favorable terms
  • Construction Contract

What is Construction Administration? Just take care of that….

Construction administration is the last potential phase in the building process. It is when Urban Design Associates can help assure you that your home is completed to reflect the design intent. We can observe the construction is conforming to the drawings and specifications.

The deliverables you will have at the end of the construction administration phase include:

  • Ensured Quality
  • Advice and Consultation
  • New Home

Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Improving Leadership Skills


Improving on the leadership skills of yourself and your employees is beneficial company wide.

1.      Understand your future from looking at your past

Learning to be a leader is understanding that it takes time to build those skills. When an employee leaves the company, it is time to reflect. Asking yourself what you could have done better to support that individual, is the first step to knowing yourself as a leader. Even if that person was not a match for the company dynamic, it is still good practice to ask yourself why and see if there are any areas the company can improve.

2.      Your voice matters

Treating others how you would like to be treated, is a good motto to live by. When you are in a leadership position, you have to take the extra step of presenting the company’s mission and values. What you show your employees when it comes to your leadership, is what they will interpret as the heart of the company.

3.      Hire to build your company

Everyone strives to hire someone who will fit with their business. Since you cannot be everything for all projects, it is beneficial to hire people who have stronger skill sets than you in certain areas. Hire to fortify.

4.      Support the strengths of others

Improving on the weaknesses of your staff, helps reinforce your core group of employees. But, focusing on their talents not only increases morale, it helps develop the skills your employees are interested in. Supporting their strengths is supporting their professional goals.

5.      Have personal meetings with yourself

You’ve been doing everything you can to grow your business and support your staff. Take some time to reflect on you. Make sure you schedule regular meetings with yourself; it’s during this time you can understand your own personal strengths and weaknesses. If you take the time to make yourself a better boss, you will be making time to be a better leader.

Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Best Architect – Best of Our Valley 2017

Best Architect


Arizona Foothills Magazine is putting on Best of Our Valley 2017, and you can vote your favorites from all over the state. Don’t forget Urban Design Associates as Best Architect!

Make your opinions known and support your local communities because it’s that time of year again. Arizona Foothills Magazine is once more publishing the Best of Our Valley 2017, and Urban Design Associates features as Best Architect.

With multiple categories like: Art & Entertainment, Food & Restaurants, Kids, and Shopping (just to name a few), you can find all of your favorite hang-outs and people. Click away and let them know you appreciate them being here in Arizona.

Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 100 Architecture Blogs

Top 100 Architecture blogs



Urban Design Associates has been named one of Architecture’s Top 100 Blogs!


Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sustainable Luxury

facebook image

Sustainable luxury sounds like an oxymoron, but rest assured, it is not. Luxury keeps the wheel of progress and creativity turning. Historically, small family businesses or craftspeople used their specialized expertise to create quality work that would be considered a luxury item once completed. The same can be said today, which is what makes luxury truly sustainable. When purchasing a luxury item, your product will last longer, reducing the need to use more resources to replace it, and the item is unique because a craftsperson created a one of a kind rarity. 

Designing your home should reflect the same merits of sustainable luxury. Urban Design Associates feel that your home should be of the finest quality. Our designs are created to endure and have elegance inspired by individuals. 

When looking for an architect that can bring sustainability to a project, you should consider some of these factors: 

Environmentally conscious and certified with the United States Green Building Council 

• Materials 
Local, recyclable/biodegradable, or engineered to increase their lifespan

• Nature 
Sensitive to the natural systems of the site 
Reduces pollution from high energy consumption or chemicals during the build

• Design 
Creates a space that is efficient and functional 
Timeless in fashion and avoid trends 
Healthy indoor/outdoor environments 

• Passion 
Expresses a passion about sustainability when presenting work 

Businesses are evolving the definition of sustainability. It is no longer a word making consumers feel good about their purchases, but an action creating environments for individuals who care about the effects of their decisions on the world. Talk to your architect about sustainability in your next home and live in luxury.

Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

Earthquake in Italy

A 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck Italy today, and the town of Amatrice is in ruins. As disaster struck, the locals, who were prepping for their 50th annual festival celebrating their pasta sauce, are now displaced and grieving loved ones they have lost. CNN is currently holding a live feed of the event as it unfolds.


Amatrice, Italy


If wondering how to help those in need during this crisis, the Italian Red Cross is taking donations.


Posted in Urban Design Associates Blog | Leave a comment

Copyright 2017 • Urban Design Associates LTD. • All Rights Reserved
UDA RSS Find UDA on Facebook Find UDA on the ARA website Urban Design Associates Ltd BBB Business Review Best of Houzz 2017 LEED Profile