|Index||Brief Chronology||Neighborhoods||Firm Portfolio|
|Ralph Haver AIA||Commercial Buildings||Custom Homes||Family History|
|Jimmie Nunn FAIA||Civic Buildings||Characteristics||Awards|
|James Salter AIA||Multifamily Housing||Do I Have a Haver?|
Ralph Burgess Haver: Everyman's Modernist
By Alison King, Founder of Modern Phoenix LLC
"Architecture is both an art and a hobby, and it is constructive. Unlike medicine and some other professions, it is pleasurable. It deals with pleasant things rather than pain and sorrow." –Ralph Burgess Haver, AIA Jimmie Nunn, Ralph Haver, Ed Varney and Fred Guirey were inseperable friends during the heyday of Modern Architectural design in Phoenix, Arizona.Ask any of the architects working in Arizona during the postwar period and they might chuckle at the mention of being categorized as Modernists. Ralph Haver's son Bucky put it best when he declared, "He wasn't being Modern, he was being cheap!" — a sentiment echoed across the interviews conducted for the research of this monograph. Economy is just a good constraint as any; what these gentlemen didn't realize was that their devotion to budget and eagerness to experiment with new materials and new forms is exactly what made them Modern in the hazy rear view mirror that is history.
Ralph Burgess Haver AIA was a master of cost containment and eager to adapt new technologies, making him a favorite for commercial, civic and military commissions. He was keenly aware of what his contemporaries were accomplishing nationwide and sought to bring a taste of that sophistication to Phoenix. As his firm's work grew larger in scale and flowed with the tides of economy and taste, his relentless attention to designing single-family custom homes was a steady artistic outlet for decades, resulting in some of the most dearly loved and well-published custom homes the Valley of the Sun has ever seen. Marketed in their own time as Haver Homes, their value was immediate and aesthetics were gracefully unchallenging.
Unchallenging is not used here in a pejorative sense. There was a general ease to everything he built, resulting in an effortless lifestyle that contrasted starkly with decades of pre-war hardship. Haver didn't seek to impose a difficult style upon a building's inhabitants, he sought instead to mold his design to the New American aesthetic. If ever Less was More, it was in his stripped-down contemporary ranch homes that took western ranch utility and adapted its principles to Modern forms. The scope of his firm's work combined with the deep reach of his own personal design experiments in housing make him one of the most prolific and celebrated Modern architects of the Southwest Region. His architecture was intended for everyone's enjoyment, making Ralph Burgess Haver Everyman's Modernist.