We are an architecture firm that puts people at the center of everything we do.
This project was for a client whose dream it was to open a vegan grocery story in Phoenix, something that our city didn’t have. She had a particular historic building in mind, an old warehouse-type building on Central Avenue but she needed investors so she hired me to come up with renderings of what her vegan grocery store could look and feel like in this building to inspire potential investors to join in on her venture. It was fun learning about her vision and making it come to life in a physical space.
Creating renderings based on conversations very early on to generate interest and funding is part of what Taz Khatri Studios does to help clients get their businesses off the ground. My client decided to take her concept to another state but it was a privilege to help her explore her options.
The purchase and renovation of this duplex was my foray into the world of real estate development but in fact I ended up learning new things about design and construction in the process. My then husband Paul and I bought this duplex built in 1963 that was somewhat run down but had great bones. It was in Central Phoenix in an up-and-coming neighborhood. Our plan was to purchase it, renovate it and rent it out affordably to folks who wanted to live in the Central city. The duplex has been with us for the last 11 years and has been successfully occupied by tenants throughout that time.
This was the first design project I ever did where I was using my own money to do the improvements. This is how I learned firsthand about how clients feel when they spend their hard-earned money on renovations. When the budget is limited it is critical to understand what’s important and what’s not along with getting creative about saving money.
As with any older building, the first thing to do was to make an inventory of what could be saved and what should be replaced. I made note that the kitchen cabinets and hardware were original to 1963 and were in great shape in both units. I decided to keep those as is and replace the countertop. We also added inexpensive tile backsplashes to added color. When you are working with a tight budget, knowing which precise, surgical moves to make can bring an old space alive again without breaking the bank.
Sustainability was a key goal in this project. This meant we sourced recycled materials like the bathroom tile from ReStore and we donated old plumbing and light fixtures to the Stardust Center. We also tried to use smart and affordable passive thermal strategies such as adding external shading devices to west-facing windows
II wore many hats on this project. I was the client, the designer, and the general contractor. Playing all three roles gave me a deeper perspective on the design and construction process. I hired and coordinated the subcontractors to complete the work and made sure that both labor and materials fit our budget. This insight into the construction process helps me save my clients money as well.
Manzil means “house” in my language, Kutchi, and the name of this house is Khatri Manzil. It is a ground-up custom home I designed for my parents in the Metro Phoenix area.
The best part about this project is that I’ve been able to inhabit it, enjoy it and watch others be in it for over ten years. It is the most wonderful kind of “post-occupancy study”. My greatest pride as an architect has been to create a beautiful and functional space for my parents and extended family of 40+ people. We have had family and community gatherings in this home countless times over the years.
A ranch home, easy to navigate with no steps, I designed the Khatri Manzil with my parent’s advanced age in mind. However, after my father had a stroke and was incapacitated by it, we had to make some modifications to the home to accommodate his new needs. We widened the doors to his room so his wheelchair could easily be pushed in and out and we replace the curbed shower pan in the master bathroom with a curbless shower where a wheelchair or a wheeled-bath chair could be rolled in easily. Families change over the years and the homes we live in need to change alongside us. The home is constructed with unpainted sand-blasted CMU with large gathering spaces custom designed for our large multigenerational family gatherings. The kitchen is the hearth and the beating heart of the house. Cooking and feeding are the primary love language of my family so you will always find someone in the kitchen whipping up one delicious curry or another. The kitchen opens up to the family room and this combined gathering space has served as a great container for a multitude of gatherings over the years.
The home was originally designed for my brother and his family to live with my parents. With this multi-generational and extended family situation in mind, I considered the notions of privacy and gathering spots carefully. The home contains two bedroom suites at opposite ends of the house to provide privacy to the two couples and the kitchen is in the center where the family comes together.
As our family evolved, my brother and his family no longer live with my parents and my father passed away but this design is versatile enough to accommodate my aging mom, her caregivers, and visitors that comprise of different family units. When we all gather during the holidays, almost every inch of the house is taken up by floor mattresses for kids to sleep on while the adults sleep in their own rooms.
The Khatri Manzil is a beautiful container for rich unfolding life of my cherished family. That is essentially how I view architecture, as a container for the unfolding life of families, businesses and institutions.
Filmbar started as a dream in the curious mind of owner Kelley Aubey. He had traveled extensively and been to film bars around the world and he wanted to create this mixed-use concoction in Phoenix.
He bought a 1960s commercial building in downtown Phoenix that was once a clothing factory. It had sat empty for quiet some time when Kelley bought it and he wanted to turn the boxy one-story building into a rowdy, happening bar in the front and a dark, cavernous, sound-insulated theater in the back.
I was on a hiatus from practicing architecture at the time Kelley approached me but I accepted his request to be the architect on the project because I loved the idea of adding this vibrant mixed-use magnet to a then just up and coming downtown scene.
Kelley had a very limited budget but a very resourceful mindset. He sourced the wonderful theater seats from an old theater that had shut down somewhere in the Midwest and put together enough money to create a Moroccan-feel to his unique establishment with Moroccan-style lamps, cushions and ottomans.
This project was an adaptive-reuse of an existing commercial building and was eligible for the city incentives such as expedited building review and permitting. The existing building was mostly non-descript but what interesting elements it did have we made sure to retain.
One of those elements was the stone-clad interior wall which now serves as the back wall to the bar and creates an accent for the entry. An important element of this project was to allow a scenario where there could be a loud crowd at the bar while a movie was playing in the theater just on the other side of the wall.
The sound-insulation properties of that wall were critical in making Kelley’s business model work. Working closely with the owner and contractor, we were able to deliver a fun space in the front where people could be rowdy and get together and a separate space with a completely different quality in the back. Special sound insulation and blocking out the light from the existing windows with gyp. board helped to create a dark and sound-separated cocoon for effective movie watching.
The Filmbar continues to be a successful manifestation of Kelley’s dream. I am proud to have helped create a unique and fun space where people come together to imbibe and converse and have a great movie-watching experience in the same building.
This duplex, called Red Mountain, is the second investment property my then husband Paul and I purchased in Central Phoenix. The building was dilapidated, definitely outdated and needed maintenance, repair and some general updating.Once again our budget was tight so we spent much of it on the necessities, such as replacing two HVAC units, the original plumbing which was rusting and the broken-down fence in the back alley. There wasn’t much money left for aesthetic upgrades so we got creative.
We used tile we had gotten for free that was surplus from another construction job in both kitchens. Importantly, we retained the kitchen cabinets in one of the units which were in good shape. Part of good design is knowing what to keep and what to replace. We sourced a vintage stove-top from a thrift store and got our electrician to hook it up. We replaced the beat-up doors with new steel doors with a full lite which let in lots of light into the interior.