2015

This page contains various updates we posted on the “Recent News” page throughout calendar 2015.

Disclaimer: The embedded links may not work – this page reflects historical posts and while the embedded links were functional at the time the updates were posted, they may not work now.

incorrigible, er I meant “in [came the] Core [and it’s very] able” (December 2015)

OK, so I’ve had the Core Wireless Speaker System listed down toward the bottom of this page under Intriguing Products for over a year now. Why? Well, it took those dedicated audiophiles up in Toronto a bit longer than they originally anticipated to get the Core into full production – like 9 months longer! …but it was worth the wait, definitely worth the wait!

My units arrived earlier today, (22nd), so Christmas came a wee bit early to the Byrne residence this year! It took less than 30 minutes to unpack them, plug them in, power them on and pair them with a laptop. What makes these devices special is not only the first-rate sound, but the fact they operate wirelessly and last up to 12 hours on a single battery charge!

Yes folks, that means no wires, which, as you know, is a big concern of mine since I’ve steadfastly avoided punching holes in walls, (or ceilings), to route cabling at the Byrne residence. The goal was to find sound reproduction devices loudspeakers that fit seamlessly into the decor, sounded as good as they looked and enabled us to stream whatever we happen to be listening to throughout the entire house. Happily, we’ll be doing precisely that on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day!

…first [last] glimpse! (December 2015)

A teaser image of the brand new maple door being fabricated for the Byrne residence. It’ll be installed in early January – we can’t wait!

…yup, you guessed it, the last of the “must do” projects I’ve alluded to over the past several months. After this, it’s down to basic maintenance and maybe – just maybe – we’ll tackle one of the “nice to have” projects in early 2016. Stay tuned!

Bruce Munro at the Desert Botanical Garden (November 2015)

Wow! We attended the opening of the exhibit called “Sonoran Light” at the Desert Botanical Garden on November 20th and were absolutely astounded by what we saw!

…more on this fantastic experience after our return trip tonight, (the 21st), to hear Bruce Munro’s lecture, (and yet another post-sunset saunter through the garden)!

Update: Despite Bruce’s self-effacing style, his lecture on Saturday evening was thoroughly entertaining, extremely informative and definitely enhanced our deep appreciation for his work. I’ll be writing up a separate post about our experience soon!

TRUEFORM presents at ASLA 2015 in Chicago! (November 2015)

Todd Briggs of TRUEFORM Landscape Architecture Studio presented, (along with three other panelists), at the American Society of Landscape Architects annual meeting in Chicago in early November. The theme of their talk? “Residential Design: Transformative Stories and Lifelong Relationships”. We were honored to be one of the projects Todd included in his portion, especially after we paged through the slides that accompanied the full presentation. Wow, what a fantastic collection of homes/projects!

Again, congratulations to Todd, et al., on their successful ASLA talk in Chicago! The positive feedback is certainly well-deserved!

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation – Taliesin West Weekend Tour 2.0 (November 2015)

We had the privilege of hosting approximately twenty Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts visiting the Valley of the Sun, (almost all of which were from southern California), this past weekend. We look forward to these semi-annual tours, especially when we have the honor of introducing the participants to Will Bruder and his lovely wife Louise Roman, who then led the group through the house and described various design elements to them!

We joined the tour party for the second stop of the day when we visited Lisa Sette and Peter Shikany’s spectacular modernist home, known as “The House of Earth & Light”, designed by Marwan Al-Sayed. Wow, what an absolutely incredible experience – one we will not soon forget!

Artifacts (October 2015)

Bill & Carol Byrne visited us this past week, toured the house to observe the changes we’ve made since their last visit, then the four of us trekked to a nearby Will Bruder creation called Pond House, where Scott & Debbie Jarson were holding an event. Bill & Carol had been to Pond House before, but neither Martha nor I had seen it, so we were thrilled to have a chance to experience the home first-hand!

We enjoyed a lovely meal together afterwards, but the most touching moment of the evening – for me – was when Bill & Carol presented us with the plaque commemorating the Gold Trowel Award given to the Byrne’s by the Arizona Masonry Guild in October of 1998. Needless to say, we are honored to be able to add this important object to the Byrne Residence archive!

In addition to the plaque, (above), we also received a number of photographs depicting various stages during construction, and these images are being added to those Bill & Carol had already given to us when we purchased the house. In fact, it was while I was paging through these images, I realized I really needed to capture reminisces from both Bill & Carol Byrne, as well as from Will Bruder, before these crucial details are lost to time!

2015 AIA Arizona Design Awards (October 2015)

We had the pleasure of attending the 2015 edition of the AIA Arizona Design Awards gala this past Saturday, where a dear friend – and extremely talented architect – Benjamin Hall received a Distinguished Building Honor Award for White Stone Studios, a collection of six residential units in downtown Phoenix.

We toured this spectacular project back in mid-February, just a few weeks before the first units were leased out, and were thrilled to learn Ben’s labor of love was going to be recognized at the awards ceremony! Of course, great design deserves to be fully-realized through great construction, so it was equally heartwarming to see the design/build firm of 180 degrees recognized alongside Ben on stage. We’re huge fans of this firm’s work as well – they did a fantastic job!

Rinse & Repeat (September 2015)

We recently learned the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation will be hosting a two-and-a-half day event in early November called the “Taliesin West Weekend” for invited guests, several foundation board members and several members of the foundation’s executive staff.

Similar to the event held back in April, the November group will be joining us for a tour of the Byrne residence, led by Will Bruder himself, on what should prove to be a very special weekend!

[Hot] Dog Days of Summer! (August 2015)

It’s been a busy summer – wrapping up several projects at the Byrne residence, engaging with friends, attending various board meetings, and enjoying the rhythm of July & August in the desert…

We had our first in-person encounter with a tarantula when Martha spotted a healthy 4″, (leg span), specimen early one morning on the landing of the exterior stairwell – we gently moved it up to the top of the stairs as the sun was setting that day, and he/she/it was gone when we checked the next morning. Hopefully we’ll see other specimens as summer melts into fall – a period of greater activity for these gentle giants.

We’ll have more exciting news to report soon – another upcoming tour, updates on one or two more projects as we tackle the last two items on our so-called “must do” list, and our plans for the fall – stay tuned!

Final Touches (July 2015)

On Monday, July 13th, we’ll be kicking off the last of the bathroom refinements – the shower fixtures are being replaced with Vola fixtures to match the faucets installed earlier this year. Additionally, we’re taking the opportunity to replace the faucets in the kitchen and laundry with – yup, you guessed it – Vola equivalents! 😉

Pizza on the Patio! (June 2015)

After discovering the Uuni Wood Fired Pizza Oven on uncrate.com earlier in the month, my birthday present arrived just in time to get two trial pizza baking sessions completed before we found ourselves heading into July. Doesn’t this marvelous device look right at home on the west patio?

The entire oven is constructed out of stainless steel and is fueled by oak wood pellets. I assembled the oven in about an hour, and thanks to the video tutorials found on the Uuni website, I managed to extract several rather tasty pizzas the very first time we fired it up!

David & Gladys Wright House (May 2015)

If you find yourself the greater Phoenix area, definitely consider a tour of the David & Gladys Wright House! Martha and I had the privilege of joining a group of Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts recently for a tour of this spectacular home. In fact, we had the pleasure of meeting Zach Rawling, (the owner and driving force behind the preservation efforts of this residential masterpiece), as we strolled from the adjacent parking area up to the house itself.

For more information, please visit the David & Gladys Wright Foundation website.

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation – Taliesin West Weekend Tour 1.0 (April 2015)

On Sunday, April 26th, Martha and I had the pleasure of hosting twenty members of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, (as well as several foundation board members and several members of the foundation’s executive staff), for a tour of the Byrne residence, followed by a tour of the Jarson residence. These two Bruder designs are separated by about a decade, and were chosen specifically because they each contained Will’s own creative interpretation of some of the very same principles Frank Lloyd Wright had incorporated into desert homes he’d designed decades before, (two of which were toured by this same group on Saturday).

We were excited because both the Byrne and Jarson tours were led by Will Bruder, who graciously agreed to share his own insights about each home.

Dottie O’Carroll, Vice President of Development and Communications for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, said she received a steady stream of congratulatory email on Monday from attendees expressing gratitude for “…a truly extraordinary 2 1/2 day experience…”!

ALBUM Lighting Systems catalog published! (April 2015)

We were very excited to see the Byrne residence featured in the 2015 edition of the ALBUM Lighting Systems catalog! If you take a look at the section labeled “Projects”, and turn to page 80, you’ll see a combination of images by Bill Timmerman and Martha M. Bills, depicting both the house and the ALBUM Orbite fixtures installed there! I’ve also uploaded page 80 from the catalog and you can view it by clicking on the thumbnail below or clicking here.

August ships August Connect (March 2015)

August, the manufacturer of the August Smart Lock, began shipping the August Connect device earlier this spring. This simple device acts as a bridge between the Smart Lock and your wireless network, enabling you to check the status – or even operate – the lock from anywhere, (well, anywhere you have access to the Internet)… 😉

Back to the future – well, sort of… (March 2015)

On March 26th, Martha and I had the privilege of hosting Will Bruder, Bill Timmerman, Jacki Twardowski and Jackie Zimmerman at the Byrne residence for the sole purpose of having Bill re-photograph the house for the first time in 17 years! This was a huge milestone for us, as we’ve been working toward this event for almost five years…

The day began about 5:30 AM, when Jackie spotted the most colorful shooting star I’ve ever seen streaking from east to west across the northern skies while we were all standing in the desert. We figured seeing something like that meant we were going to have a good day – and we did – we had a very, very good day…

The evening concluded with Martha and I sitting on the west patio, pondering the “fire & ice” feature as Bill captured the last images of us relaxing there at the end of the day. We will publish a full-blown post detailing the entire photography session, but for now, just a couple of teaser images Martha captured early Thursday morning:

We’ve had visitors! (March 2015)

Monica Ponce de Leon is Dean and the Eliel Saarinen Collegiate Professor at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Dominique Price is Design Director at Gensler and a lecturer in architecture at the University of California, Berkeley.

Both were in town to tour various Bruder-designed buildings, so Will reached out to us earlier in the week to see about including the Byrne residence – much to our delight! On Friday, he accompanied Monica and Dominique to the house and we all got to spend a little over an hour listening to Will describe the inspiration behind the design, point out construction details throughout the house and share some of his own experiences from the time frame when the Byrne residence was being built, now some 16+ years ago!

Happy Valentine’s Day! (February 2015)

We’re kicking off a fixture update project through Will Bruder’s office for the two bathrooms on the Main Level at the Byrne residence, now having had the chance to live for a while with the VOLA fixtures installed in the Guest Bathroom on the Lower Level last year. We’re also kicking off a mild landscaping “touch up” project with TRUEFORM Landscape Architecture Studio.

Why all this frenetic activity? We will have the privilege of hosting a group of art & architecture enthusiasts this spring in support of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation!

In early February, we concluded a 10 day road trip of sorts that started in Bellevue and ended in Scottsdale, having made the decision to declare ourselves Arizona residents for the time being. I’ll describe the highlights of our journey in an upcoming post, but here’s a taste from the Bellevue Arts Museum exhibit which was on display the week we began our journey.
The artist transformed exactly one ton of clay into the objects depicted in the photograph, all of which were patterned after the buckets – or pieces of buckets – found on backhoes.

…kinda like Tonka Toys for adults, (well, at least adults like me).

Happy New Year! (January 2015)

2015 is getting off to a busy start! We enjoyed snow on New Year’s Eve day at the Byrne residence before we headed to the Arizona Biltmore Hotel to ring in the New Year. Within days, temperatures were back in the mid-70’s and bright blue skies had returned, but not before giving the surrounding Sonoran Desert a thorough soaking. Let’s hope this bodes well for a spectacular crop of wildflowers as we approach spring!