In Tucson, the Mood Is Indigo Modern

Places / January 20, 2010

Anyone who’s ever heard Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington team up on “Mood Indigo” has experienced an understated tutorial on the meaning of timing and economy.

With Indigo Modern in central Tucson, Rob Paulus Architects has tuned into both concepts with an easy, stark beauty.

Indigo Modern was designed as an environmentally friendly community of 11 single-family homes, each 1,800 square feet, with three bedrooms, two baths, private outdoor space, a common parking area and swimming pool. The idea was to do an environmentally friendly project that was high design, but not high cost. The average sales price was around $360,000.

“We designed these with the idea that ‘good design can make your life better,’” said Randi Dorman, partner in the firm. “When you wake up in a home that’s thoughtfully designed with clean lines, lots of natural light, high ceilings, great use of space and the knowledge that you’re being kind to the environment, you feel better, and you bring that feeling into the rest of your day.”

Indigo Modern is an infill project in Tucson, in keeping with much of the firm’s work. Built on the former site of a mobile home park on one side of Third Street and over a dilapidated duplex on the other, the community re-builds an important infill location with energy efficient design that makes good use of indoor and outdoor space.

Its location allows owners to tap into existing infrastructure, with walkability, bikeability and close proximity to public transportation. It features environmentally sensitive building materials like hardiplank, standing seam steel, flyash, white roof, and low VOC paints. The local electric company guarantees that the average monthly heating and cooling bill will not exceed $42. And each home offers environmentally friendly features like solar, rainwater harvesting and xeriscaping.

“We coined a term we call ‘responsible density’ which we define as the way in which people should live today – as densely as is possible and comfortable, and using shared areas for parking, pools, community gardens,” said Randi. “We think infill is important, we understand that people like private space, but people don’t need a lot of it – especially in the desert.”For more on Rob Paulus Architects, go to

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Michael Welton

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