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A Force of Nature: Architect Rick Joy Brings the Outside In

by | Oct 4, 2022

The summer 2022 issue of The Agency Magazine—themed “Call of the Wild”—showcased an exclusive feature on architect Rick Joy’s mesmerizing, nature-inspired projects. Enjoy an excerpt below and read the full article in our digital magazine.

Rick Joy, Architect

Growing up in Maine, Rick Joy spent a lot of time in the woods. “In my family, whenever we wanted to celebrate or do something fun, we’d go into nature,” the architect recalls. Later, when he moved to Tucson as a student, Joy took it upon himself to learn about his new environment. “It’s such an interesting place to learn about flora and fauna, the way desert plants grow to protect each other.”

RLH Mandarina, Rick Joy Architect

 A careful study of place also came to typify Joy’s approach to design. Since founding Studio Rick Joy in 1993, he has become known for blending contemporary forms with rich and locally sourced materials, and while each commission is different—Joy eschews the notion of a “signature style”—they all share a similar attention to place, in particular to plant life and the direction and quality of light.

RLH Mandarina, Rick Joy Architect

Joy’s studio gained acclaim for its quiet desert dwellings and over time the practice expanded, taking on architecture, interiors and planning projects around the globe, including luxury resorts that take design cues from their dramatic settings.

Joy credits his studio’s diverse mix of designers for the strong quality of work. “It’s enriching for everyone—I call it cross pollination,” he says. It seems apt that Joy uses the language of plant ecology to describe the collaborative nature of his practice; from the forests of Maine to the Sonoran Desert to the Mexican jungle, nature remains a constant inspirational force.

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