House of the Week: Desert Nomad Home

6353 W Sweetwater Dr, Tucson AZ
For Sale: $875,000

On the outskirts of Tucson, settled among sage brush and desert rock, is a home that doesn’t fit the traditional adobe aesthetic of the Southwest.

Three rusted steel boxes form a unique home that the current owner, Walter Cecil, refers to as the “Desert Nomad Home.” Cecil, an art dealer based in San Francisco, purchased the home in the beginning stages of construction, but is quick to say that architect Rick Joy is responsible for the design.

“When I bought it, it was just a steel shell. I bought his vision,” explained Cecil. “I cannot take any credit for what the architecture is. It’s his genius.”

The Desert Nomad House is an active listing on the Tucson real estate market and is currently priced at $875,000 and is represented by agent Lyn Papanikolas of Long Realty Company. The house was originally listed for $975,000 in February 2011, but has taken a $100,000 price drop since then.

As an art dealer, Cecil says he always joked that he had the art, but not the boxes to put it in.

The three boxes are separate structures that seemingly float above the desert floor and are held up by four concrete footings. When it rains, water flows beneath the home.  The exterior is enclosed in steel except for an enormous floor-to-ceiling window at one end of the box. The interiors — floors, ceilings and walls — are maple.

Each box is a different size and has a different purpose and view. One box is the living room and its window faces east. The bedroom box faces south and the office and guest box faces west.

“Rick Joy refers to them [the windows] as apertures; the views are profoundly different,” said Cecil.

After the home was finished, Cecil began to receive requests from architects who wanted to visit the home. Because he travels a lot, Cecil said, “I felt like it was OK to share the home. And I had a string of remarkably interesting guests stay at the home.”

Cecil made the decision to sell the Desert Nomad Home because his business flourishes out of San Francisco, and while using the Tucson home for a retreat was one thing, he’s at the point where he no longer wants the responsibility of another property.

However, Cecil notes, when the home does sell, he says he’ll never live in a “piece of art that is so extraordinary.”

“It’ll be hard to outdo what the Desert Nomad House does,” he said.

According to current mortgage rates, a monthly payment on the Desert Nomad House is $3,277 with a 20 percent down payment and 30-year-fixed mortgage.