2018 Design Award for Commercial Efficient Design: Studio AR&D Architects


Located high atop a desert bluff sits the entry point of one of Palm Springs’ most exciting developments, the Guardhouse at Desert Palisades. Not only does it serve as the passageway to the exclusive community, but it is also a model home of the custom dwellings beyond the gate.

Designed by L.A.-based Studio AR&D Architects, many elements were included to demonstrate the neighborhood’s potential. “Our aim was to set the tone of what we hope the architecture will become throughout,” says Sean Lockyer, president of Studio AR&D Architects. “We want to inspire other architects to rethink the use of materials and methods of construction, expressing materials in a different way.” 

Set against a very rugged and dry landscape, the construction of the Guardhouse addresses the challenges and benefits of sustainable building in an arid environment. “We used a Rainscreen system made of Cor-Ten steel panels, which is traditionally used for damp, wet climates, but we find it works well in desert climates,” says Lockyer. “It shades the structure by acting as a drape. An air gap happens between the Cor-Ten and the framing at the top and bottom of the structure that constantly cools the building.” 

Passive solar technology and photovoltaics were placed throughout to generate energy, while low-efficacy lighting was used to reduce power consumption. Studio AR&D utilized the boulders from the clearing to complement the new architecture of the Guardhouse. 

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