Architect Erik Peterson has accomplished much since launching his architecture firm almost 20 years ago in Scottsdale, Arizona. He’s won many awards for his residential designs—including near countless custom estate properties. Peterson has had his hand in numerous hospitality projects, like the renovation of the historic, iconic Wigwam Resort in Greater Phoenix.
Peterson’s drive for success in architecture started early. Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, he toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park home and studio as a 6th grader.
He’s also become known for adding just the right touch to many luxe clubhouse designs, including his work at the iconic Lodge at Pebble Beach in California. Most recently, he completed his 50th home (by the age of 50) at Silverleaf, Scottsdale’s most exclusive community—completing more projects there than any other architect or architecture firm.
Erik was awarded the American Institute of Architects Young Gun Award and was recently named Master of the Southwest by Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine in 2014. He has been named Best Architect from AZ Foothills Magazine and No. 1 in the Phoenix Business Journal Book of Lists for Architecture Firms, making him the go-to guy.
Peterson committed to establishing his firm, PHX Architecture, in Los Angeles, as well. “We found office space in Beverly Hills,” says Peterson, “and I hired people with whom I had worked in Arizona, who were living in Los Angeles.” Even during the pandemic, Peterson has been working in the Southern California market, establishing relationships with builders, interior designers, landscape architects and others in the field to make his firm’s work known. And he’s seeing an impact for his architecture firm.
Peterson’s drive for success in architecture started early. Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, he toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park home and studio as a 6th grader. “I remember standing in the playroom with the barrel-vaulted ceiling, which had some beautiful light streaming in,” he recalls. “That visit transformed my life. I thought, architecture is something I could do.”
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Peterson got a taste of design and building when he started constructing stage sets for his high school productions and developed a life-long love of opera at a young age. “My mother would make me watch the Met operas on PBS,” he recalls, “and she would tell me that it was ‘for the sets.’” I hated the music at first, but then I was drawn in.”
Peterson went on to study architecture at Iowa State University, spent a semester abroad in Rome, then had an internship in London with Sir Terry Farrell’s architectural firm, taking advantage of the city’s cultural and operatic offerings in his spare time.
A master’s degree from Arizona State University followed, as did an extended internship at Scottsdale’s Taliesin Associated Architects—the continuation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural practice—during the mid 1990s, working on the Monona Terrace convention center in Madison, Wisconsin, a project originally designed by Wright himself.
Seven years working with architect Bing Hu—a fellow Taliesin alum—followed, introducing Peterson to luxury home and clubhouse design projects. Peterson launched his own architecture firm in 2002, which has now grown to include some 29 employees in both the Beverly Hills locale and the Scottsdale office—where work is underway on revitalizing the landmark Arizona Biltmore Resort, another tie to Frank Lloyd Wright.
As a result of Peterson’s efforts, the California office is seeing projects completed and on the boards. Tru Spec Golf, a golf club-fitting retailer, has opened in Beverly Hills, while Saint Marc, a gastropub with a bacon bar, is open in both Huntington Beach and Century City. “Saint Marc is a Japan-based restaurant,” Petersen explains, “and we rolled out their U.S. design and did the concept. The Huntington Beach location is more about the beach, while Century City has a more urban, sophisticated look.”
About to break ground is a 15,000-square-foot, modernist luxury home in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains.
About to break ground is a 15,000-square-foot, modernist luxury home in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. “You can see my Wrightian background in the design of this house,” Peterson explains. “The use of materials is seamless inside and out, and there are floor-to-ceiling windows to capture the views. We worked with a Southern California interiors team on the house, which gives it a unique twist.”
Peterson says that using long-held design principles helps differentiate his designs in California from his Arizona work. “We’ve done projects in many states,” he explains, “and in every case, we adapt to the surroundings. In Arizona, we use deep overhangs to protect from the sun and more muted colors to blend homes into the desert landscape.
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A copper-roofed, stone house that I would do for an Arizona desert location would look out of place on the beach in California.
“In Southern California, we love the sun and can use brighter, lighter colors. I also like to use local materials, which help establish a sense of place. A copper-roofed, stone house that I would do for an Arizona desert location would look out of place on the beach in California.”
“We are excited to be doing so much design work, both in Beverly Hills and Scottsdale,” continues Peterson. “The projects—what we do—are all different with our architecture firm. It’s the site, it’s the context, it’s the client that make the difference—and that’s our philosophy in Beverly Hills as well as Scottsdale.”