Reader's Choice: Lasting Impressions By Carolyn Weber and Christina B. Farnsworth

Name: Baker House

Location: Tucson, Ariz.

Year Built: 1950s

Architect: Bernard Baker

Why it's relevant: Both ancient and new, earthen construction, passive solar orientation, and natural shading are being rediscovered as "green."

Architect David Baker became an architect because of the books around his home and the home his dad built in Tucson, Ariz.

The San Francisco architect's father admired Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian houses. And though Baker's father dropped out of formal schooling in the ninth grade, as Baker says, because he wanted to avoid a 10-mile commute, his father remained a student of life with a passion for building and architecture. Books surrounded the Baker family, including volumes on the lives of great architects. Baker first read about architects Le Corbusier, Mies Van de Rohe, and Marcel Breuer at home.

[Photo: Courtesy David Baker]

The family built its own home after moving to Tucson from the Midwest. "I lived in a home with south-facing glass filled with Charles Eames furniture," Baker says.

His father built the family home of dirt, a Tucson indigenous material. He bought a hydraulic block machine to manufacture his own pressed earth blocks (the blocks are somewhat of a cross between adobe and rammed earth). The house, built in the '50s, was a precursor to many principles gaining popularity today: green materials, passive solar orientation, and passive shading with cantilevered trellises oriented to provide summer sun-shading.

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