by Melissa Fears
Rob E McQuay Architects & Associates is a Utah-based residential and commercial design firm whose work is firmly rooted in southwest contemporary design.
This love for design allowed for a team-based approach to spectacular custom homes with local developer Split Rock Development Company. They have collaborated on hundreds of successful projects since designing McQuay’s own personal home. The firm has over three decades of experience in the field. Starting out with nearly all commercial and industrial work, over the past decade they have changed to mostly residential since moving from Park City to St. George.
Founded 30 years ago, the Rob E McQuay design team includes McQuay himself, Todd Benson, AIA and LEED AP and Nathan Kerr. “We used to build about 25% residential,” McQuay says. “But we found a really good residential market here and have adapted to meet that demand.”
Today, about 80% of the firm’s work is new custom homes, and about 20% are additions. However, rather than thinking about the company’s work simply in terms of “style” it follows certain principles about design aimed at creating architecture appropriate to its time and place.
The company’s high-end residential design and authenticity is all about honestly expressing the structure and materials. Its spaces have an open feeling, with large amounts of natural light, and connections between indoor and outdoor spaces. There is an elegant simplicity in the clean-lined design, but McQuay and his team also bring in elements of warmth and livability through the use of natural materials. The company interweaves elements throughout its projects including furniture, interiors and landscape to create cohesive design solutions.
“It tends to not be cost effective for the type of design we do to work on small projects,” says McQuay. “We work on larger lots and more custom-type work.” Working in the west, there can be challenges with the weather, such as extreme heat and dryness.
“All of the areas we build in are desert-type areas,” he says. “Sedona, AZ is very similar to St. George. We found that we have a temperate enough climate here that you can use outdoor spaces in the winter if you design them properly especially on a southern exposure. With the right depth canopies you can get the sun in the winter when it’s cold and it shields the sun in the summer when it gets really hot.” With a goal to create 30% exterior space versus interior space, it can make the home feel larger on top of being able to use the outdoor space year-round.
The impressive Peters Residence nestled in St. George, UT is no different. The contemporary home features arcing cast concrete walls, and a soaring steel and glass great room opening up to an expansive backyard with stunning views. A private infinity edge pool and hot tub add great visuals to the back, while several exterior fire pits and private patios extend from each living space, including all bedrooms.
Metal sculptor Trent Riplinger contributed several modern ornamental steel elements, including exterior steel beams and sconces, the weathered fireplace wall, steel elements in the kitchen cabinet design and steel cladding on part of the front door.
The free-flowing open kitchen needed to be central and easily accessible on both ends of the home.
“They really serve food on both sides of kitchen, so it needed to be walk-through,” says McQuay. The mahogany cabinets and concrete pillars by Scott Welch add warmth and character to the space.
“We always go to a site and determine what the site is saying first,” says McQuay. “You see a lot of those free-flowing shapes with lava rock and erosion. Putting a hard rectangular house in there doesn’t feel natural. The curved roofline especially took inspiration from the site.” McQuay is also designing another home in the Reserve neighborhood, which faces north over the Tortoise Reserve. This undeveloped land allows for undisturbed views, while the home is propped up on and elevated 12 feet over the road on a natural lava bed.
McQuay’s approach of authentic and integrity in design will ensure the company’s spaces are meaningful and timeless for years to come.