Water is the unexpected unifying element at Palmilla, a 72-acre desert community of 159 homes just 30 minutes from Palm Springs, Calif. Streams, fountains, and other water features not only mask the sound of the street but give just about every one of the Mexican-inspired homes some sort of a water view.

Other highlights from the team at DTJ Design, the firm responsible for Palmilla's distinctive look: deep saturated colors for the low-slung, contemporary homes and, for everyone in the community, pieces of "public" art.

Category: Single-family detached community; Entrant/Architect/Land Planner/Landscape Architect: DTJ Design, Boulder, Colo.; Builder/Developer: RJT Homes, Phoenix; Interior Designer: Connie Kortman Designer, Delmar, Calif.; Environmental Artist (Public Art): INBS Inc., Sun City, Ariz.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ.