One With Nature

One With Nature

The Airpark’s Design One is bringing innovation to environmentally friendly design

By Dena Roché

No matter the design—simple or sophisticated—environments affect our lives. Today, architects are creating more livable homes and commercial buildings with a nod to sustainability and livability. Design One in Scottsdale is at the forefront of this movement.

The firm is the first to work with the City of Phoenix on noise reduction programs. Design One was tasked with a $15 million project to meet with homeowners to reduce sound inside homes that were in the path of airplane travel. The innovative program was federally funded and became a model for other cities and airports to emulate.

Continuing its work in aviation, Design One is part of a team tasked to remodel Terminals 2 and 3 at the airport.

Founder Mani Subra, created the firm in 1986 to design buildings that fit seamlessly with nature. Not a surprise as he studied at The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin in Wisconsin. Wright is known for creating spaces that blend into the environment and weave in both Western and Eastern design aesthetics.

With a focus on environmentally friendly design, Design One was the first to create a green building for the Arizona Department of Transportation that achieved LEED silver certification.

While Design One works in the commercial and governmental arenas, it also serves homeowners looking to create a special space. The firm has conceived of more than 50 homes that are environmentally friendly in Arizona.

For Subra, the inspirations for his home design just came to him.

“Sometimes I am able to design a home in a short period of time; other times it may take a month or more,” Subra said. “It depends on how complicated the site is and how easy the clients are to work with.”

While he claims the design reveals itself in a moment of Zen, probing a bit further reveals that it isn’t quite that simple. Subra and his team of architects spend time getting to know the clients, their lifestyles and how a home needs to function for them. At times he also plays mediator between couples with different design tastes.

“I offer them suggestions based on their lifestyle,” he said. “Most of the time when I show them the preliminary drawings, they agree with my ideas and design principles.”

Another major component of residential design for Subra is that the home is “green.” Arizona is one of the worst states for allergy sufferers and, besides outdoor pollen, many traditional items inside a home can trigger attacks from chemicals inside paint and carpet to heat fumes from the appliances.

One of Subra’s clients had such bad allergies that he worked in tandem with an allergy doctor to determine the right mix of building materials to use.

“The special products require unique skills from the architect and contractor,” he said. “It’s very different from the regular construction process, and, especially when dealing with allergies, a builder really has to know his client,” he said.

One home that stands out for Subra was one designed to sit just below the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona. The 3,500-square-foot house is built on several levels to maximize the amazing views from every room. The rooflines of the house match the ridging of the red rocks in the background.

“When you start designing to the site, the design evolves,” Subra said. Subra’s team constantly strives to optimally accommodate human needs and environmental balance.

Design One is located at 16071 N. 76th St., Ste. 101 in Scottsdale. Info: (480) 860-8028 or