Grand Award: Rise and Shine

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An auto repair shop is transformed into an architect's office, complete with a surprise design element: a sculptural undulating wood slat ceiling.

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Location: Tucson, Ariz.

Contractor: Ted Kline, Mega Trend, Tucson

Designer: Rob Paulus, Rob Paulus Architects, Tucson

Keeping the original garage bay openings for a more cost-effective renovation, architect Rob Paulus transformed this auto repair shop into an office space for his firm, Rob Paulus Architects, and also included space for a tenant.

Paulus, who lives in the neighborhood, purchased the 4,200-square-foot building because he saw its potential. For this project, as with projects for clients, Paulus and his team aim to provide the best possible design value. “We try to marry fun and function with the right design team and achieve a lot, and do so with a lower budget,” he says.

One of the project’s most striking features, and an example of the company’s design-value proposition, is the undulating ceiling. Paulus plays the violin and was inspired by the instrument’s curves. The wood slat ceiling is made of 3-inch-wide pieces of ¼-inch-thick plywood. “The curved ceiling increased the surface area the eye sees so it makes the space feel bigger,” Paulus says.

The architect first consulted with a cabinetmaker to figure out how to create the intricate curves, then turned to builder Ted Kline to build the structure. “Ted and his crew ran with it. They were emotionally attached to it and it became an art project for them,” Paulus says.

The judges enjoyed how the ceiling offers an “element of surprise” within the building’s box structure. “It’s very simple yet sophisticated,” said one judge.

The project also includes energy-efficient and green features such as its heavily-insulated metal structure, a 3,000-gallon underground rainwater tank, and beams and landscape elements salvaged from the original structure and incorporated into the remodeled building.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.