EVEN SOMETHING AS BEAUTIFUL AS THE high-desert topography of DC Ranch, the highly successful Scottsdale, Ariz., community, can present its own set of problems. That's what Robert Hidey Architects discovered when Market Street Homes charged it to come up with a plan for attached housing on a 13.8-acre parcel inside the community. The site bumped up against Market Street, DC Ranch's dining, shopping, and entertainment district. It also sloped toward a natural wash that was untouchable.

“Our challenge,” says Davey Ambat, the project assigner from Robert Hidey Architects, “was how do you design buildings on a sloping grade and not encroach into this natural wonder. The developer didn't want us to build giant pads out there, so our building had to adapt to the land. Our solution was to divide the site into tiers, with each tier accommodating a 5-foot slope. With this in mind we had to design buildings that had hinge points.”

Specifically, the architects came up with a plan that offered a sophisticated combination of duplexes, single-family homes, town-homes, and stacked flats. The attached homes, from 1,577 to 2,063 square feet, are arranged in 12 groupings of six and eight units each and organized around shared motor courts and central courtyards.

“There's about 10 feet of fall across the site, so Bob [Hidey] had to come up with a way to take up the grade inside the units rather than using retaining walls,” says Mark Hancock, a principal of Market Street Homes, builder of The Courtyards at Market Street, which won a grand award for best attached project—under 12du/acre at the Gold Nuggets. “By combining a single-family unit, a stacked flat, a townhouse, and a duplex all on one courtyard, he was able to pick up the grade at the different garage levels and inside some of the houses. It was a very customized approach.”

Because of the characteristics of the site, the architects went with a look that suggested an Andalusian farmhouse village. “It's like old Spain, where you see these farmhouses sitting on sloping land,” says Ambat. “They sprawl across the land and are very low in profile.” Design hallmarks include stucco walls, simple gabled rooflines, ornate ironwork, heavy wood shutters, beams and corbels, and weathered wood doors studded with clavos nails.

The variety of product types, a plan that was initially executed as a way to adapt to the topography of the land, ended up being a marketing plus. “The market just ate it up,” says Hancock. “We ended up hitting three different profiles with it.”

Young, urban professionals went for the stacked flats (Plan 1). Older couples with children and second-home, empty-nesters liked the two-level townhome (Plan 4), the large, single-level duplex (Plan 3), and the single-family home, complete with a courtyard (Plan 2). When the project opened last year, prices started in the low $300s; currently, the average price of a home is $450,000. “Because we had such a diversity of product type, we could hit just about anything people wanted, which gave it year-round appeal,” says Hancock.

Of course, not everyone could have absolutely everything that they wanted. “We did introduce some third stories in selected locations to animate the village even more,” says Ambat, “but we had to keep them in check so that it wouldn't get overtowered. We placed the towers where they needed to be, and that was it. If somebody asked for a tower, we had to say, ‘you can't get it there.'”

Project: The Courtyards at Market Square, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Builder: Market Street Homes, Scottsdale; Developer: DMB Associates, Scottsdale; Architect: Robert Hidey Architects, Irvine, Calif.; Land planner: Swaback Partners, Scottsdale

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