Building authorities initially took a dim view of the project’s proposed sharp angles and mixed materials, which stood in high contrast to the surrounding beige stucco.
The 17-unit, townhome-style Alan Apartments project in Mesa, Ariz., quickly leased out, once construction was completed in late 2018—but it took some doing to get its unique exterior past city planners.
“This project was made to stand out, and not look like all the boring beige houses around it—on purpose it doesn’t look like anything in the area,” says architect Tim Boyle, principal of Tim Boyle Design. “It was rejected by city staff five times because of how it looks, but we stuck to our guns until the Design Review Board gave it the highest praise.”
Metal plays a significant role in the streamlined profile of the project. “Sharp points are essential to the new, crisp look of 2020 modern style, and metal is the only way to achieve this,” he says, as he explains the geometry of the panels’ slant. “The angle was determined by imagining a line from the top of the second floor to the outer edge of the roof’s overhang.”
Specifically, 12,000 sq. ft. of Petersen’s 22-gauge Reveal 12-in. panels in a Weathered Zinc finish are installed as balcony canopies and unit dividers on both the front and back elevations of the development’s three buildings. The panels are angled in a way that creates a chalet-like sense of space and drama for what are actually flat-roof, box-style structures. This isn’t an uncommon approach for Boyle, who refers to his design style as “2020 modern.” Metal has become an essential element in this updated edition of modernism.
Boyle was pleased with the finished project. “Price and quality of material were essential for an inexpensive project that looks phenomenal,” he says, adding that he’s not alone in his opinions. “Now the city uses The Alan in its promotional material. It had 10% higher rents than expected, was fully rented before it was even finished, and it sold at the highest price per square foot of any multifamily property in the city, ever.”