The Harrenstein House, built in 1962-63, is a rare surviving example of a thin-shell concrete single-family residential building utilizing hyperboloid construction in Tucson, Arizona. The experimental design of the house utilized three intersecting hyperbolic surfaces to create a highly distinctive form. During and after construction, it was recognized locally for its innovation. The Tucson Daily Citizen Homes, a weekly newspaper magazine, featured the house on its cover on Saturday June 11, 1966. Mary Brown the Citizen Homes Editor wrote the feature detailing the development and design of the distinctive property. Because of the site location, in a densely vegetated desert lot, the house was obscured from view and the unique architectural expression forgotten until it was featured as part of Tucson Modernism Week in 2016. Although there are other examples of hyperbolic paraboloid structures in Tucson this is the most expensive known residential design. The house is an outstanding example of the Expressionist subtype of Architecture of the Modern Movement in Tucson.

  • Harrenstein House, entrance sequence
    Photo by Jude Ignacio & Garadene Vargas, 2016
  • Harrenstein House, east elevation
    Photo by Bill Seas, 1963
  • Harrenstein House, west elevation
    Photo by Bill Seas, 1963
  • Harrenstein House model, 1961
    Harrenstein Photo Collection, THPF Digital Archive
  • Harrenstein House, 1962
    Harrenstein Photo Collection, THPF Digital Archive

 

The house was designed and built by Dr. Howard Paul Harrenstein, an engineering professor at the University of Arizona. Harrenstein was an expert and consultant in bomb shelter design and embedded his expertise in civic-defense into the architecture of the house. Not only was the house conceived to survive an attack, Harrenstein nested a bomb shelter underneath the center of the home. The house is not only an outstanding example of expressive modern architecture but a physical articulation of the Atomic Age.

In 2018 the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation partnered with the current owner to nominate the property for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and to apply for designation as a local Pima County Landmark.  

  • National Register of Historic Places nomination, submission to the State Historic Preservation Office May 25, 2018
  • Pima County Historic Landmark Zone application, submission May 31, 2018.  

THIS IS A PRIVATE RESIDENCE & NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC – PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB RESIDENT

If you have a significant historic building and want to discuss protective designation contact the Foundation at info@presevetucson.org

Downloadable Resources

Historic-Landmark-Zone-for-6450-North-Calle-De-Estevan-Tucson-Arizona-85718-Harrenstein-House-re.pdf
download
Harrenstein House - Historic Landmark Zone and National Register Nomination

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