Ralph Haver was a modern architect working in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, from 1945 until the early 1980s. Haver is best known for his Mid-Century Modern Haver Homes, affordable tract housing executed in a contemporary modern style. These Haver homes are prized by designers and do-it-yourselfers alike as modest and modern spaces to renovate.
Born in California and trained at USC Pasadena as an architect, Haver arrived in Phoenix immediately after his service in WWII and began shaping the city with the assistance of his brother Robert (a builder) and father Harry (a brick mason). He settled in what would soon become Uptown Phoenix—2 miles outside city boundaries at the time. His first set of experimental modern contemporary ranch homes was created in the Hixson Homes subdivision near 12th Street and Highland—now called Canal North.
He soon mentored under Ed Varney and remained lifelong friends and collaborators with him even after breaking off and creating his own firm. Ralph Haver is responsible for so much of the design of postwar Phoenix that he ranked among one of the largest firms of the time. He designed churches, schools, municipal buildings, malls, multifamily housing, tract housing and custom homes. Haver especially worked with prominent housing developers, including Del Webb, Fred Woodward, David Friedman and Del Trailor.
Haver-designed buildings, while plentiful yet still valued in metropolitan Phoenix, are not immune from destruction. His elegant and acclaimed Cine Capri theater was razed in the 1990s, and the 1960 Coronado High School was largely demolished by 2007. The Polynesian-styled Kon Tiki motel, an icon along Van Buren Avenue, has been destroyed as well.
It was estimated by the firm that there are 20,000 Haver designed tract homes in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. Haver Home characteristics include low-sloped rooflines, clerestory windows, massive mantle-less chimney volumes, floor-to-ceiling walls of glass, brick or block construction, clinker bricks in the wainscoting, angled porch posts and brick patios. Homes are typically less than 1400 square feet and significantly less in the postwar era due to federal mandate in conservation of materials.
Ralph Haver's success as a tract home designer has often mistakenly been compared to that of California's Joseph Eichler, simply by similarity in design style — however, instead of being a real estate developer, Haver was an architect who knew how to communicate with developers to populate his designs on a large scale. Thus, his role in bringing modern design sensibility to the masses is more comparable to that of A. Quincy Jones (who designed for developer Eichler).
Of concern to the preservation community is the erection of second-story additions on Haver Homes, rendering the original low-lying profile of the home historically incongruous and altering the overall fabric of the surrounding one-story neighborhood. Others claim these small, sometimes cramped home plans are largely outdated for present-day living and as ranch homes were designed to be modified from the start. Yet others cite that the housing is cheap, common and unattractive by today's standards and has little value at all for preservation or rehabilitation.
One Firm, Many Names
Haver's architectural design firm contemporaries included Ed Varney, Al Beadle, Weaver & Drover, Bennie Gonzales, Fred Guirey, and Lescher & Mahoney. His work may be also be found credited under "Ralph Haver & Associates", "Haver Nunn & Jensen", "Haver Nunn & Collamer" or "Haver Nunn & Nelson".
Scarcity of Documentation
Blueprints as verification for authenticity of Haver designs are rare, as many buildings were created outside of Phoenix city boundaries at the time. Many of Haver's drawings, renderings and records were destroyed in 1993 when the firm finally went out of business—they ended up in a dumpster when the last office built and designed by the firm on 16th Street was abated.
Growth of the Firm
From the early sixties through the seventies, Haver and Nunn's firm expanded outside of AZ with offices in Hawaii. Guam, San Francisco and Minneapolis. It became one of the largest employing firms of its era. Haver retired in the early eighties and the firm continued to operate from the new office building on North 16th Street. Ralph Haver passed away in 1987. In 1993, shortly after partner George Collamer passed away the firm was closed. Jimmie Nunn is the last surviving partner and lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Haver designed (or collaborated in the design of) the following buildings and neighborhoods, among hundreds of others not mentioned, confirmed or re-discovered. Most of the inventory has been re-created from oral history as well as publications such as Arizona Architect, Arizona Days & Ways, Arizona Homes and A Guide to the Architecture of Metro Phoenix (Central Arizona AIA).
The projects listed below do not include projects designed outside of Arizona.
1946 Hixon Homes/Canal North (includes the original Haver family home and several other experiments)
1950 Luke Air Force Base Housing
1950 The Peggy Reed Residence, Ingleside Country Club
1950 The Nelson Residence, Uptown Phoenix
1950 The Morse Residence, Phoenix
1952 Began Partnership with Jimmie Nunn
195? Haver and Nunn office building (now Red Modern Furniture)
1952 Princess Homes at Northwood
1953 Entz White Lumber
1953 Marlen Grove neighborhood
1953 G.E. Wonder Home, Paradise Valley
1953 Campus Homes in Tempe (?)
1954 Lou Regester Furniture (now Copenhagen Imports)
1954 Starlite Vista neighborhood
1955 Tonka Vista homes (including new Haver family home and other experiments)
195? Madison Rose Lane elementary school
195? Madison #2 elementary school
1955 Windemere neighborhood
1955 Park Lee Alice Apartments
1956 Engineering Complex, ASU
1956 Starlite Model Home for Parade of Homes
1956 Tower Plaza (with John Schotanus)
1957 Town & Country Manor (aka Rancho Ventura and T&C I) neighborhood, Phoenix
1957 Princess Homes at Regents Park in Arcadia
1957 Barrow's Furniture Store, Tucson
1957 PAT Dona Vista of Terra del Sol, Tucson
1958 Janet Manor (Town & Country II)
1958 Parker House, Arcadia
1959 Evertson House, Marion Estates
1959 Town & Country III neighborhood, Scottsdale
1959 Social Sciences Building at ASU
1958 PAT Craycroft Terrace, Tucson, AZ
1958 PAT Grande Vista of Terra del Sol, Tucson, AZ
1958 PAT Mayfair Terrace, Tucson, AZ
1959 PAT Craycroft Village Apartments, Tucson, AZ
1959 PAT Alamo Terrace, Tucson, AZ
1959 PAT Eastridge Terrace, Tucson, AZ
1959 VP Value Packed Homes, Chesin Construction Co., Santa Rita Terrace, Tucson, AZ
1960 Town and Country Paradise (T&C IV)
1960 Coronado High School, Scottsdale (mostly razed)
1961 Former Arizona Bank branch at 4231 East Thomas
1961 Fraternity on ASU's Greek Row (razed)
1961 Kon Tiki Motel
1962 Haver Office Building on Missouri
1962 Kaibab Elementary School (AIA Special Feature Citation)
1960s Phoenix College additions
1963 First Federal Savings & Loan, Scottsdale (AIA Award of Merit)
1963 Barrow's Furniture Store, Tucson (AIA Award of Merit, AIA Honor Award)
1963 Arizona Bank branch 16th Street (AIA Award of Merit)
1963 Phoenix Municipal Bldg (in collaboration with Ed Varney, won an AIA award)
1963 Engineering Complex expansion, ASU
1964 Cine Capri Theater (with Henry G. Greene; razed)
1964 Arizona Bank branch at 6015 North 16th Street
1964 Mayo's Furniture Store aka "Bruners"
1965 Hilton Hotel at Scottsdale Rd & Lincoln
1965 Beekman Place townhouses
1967 Paradise Valley United Methodist Church
1969 American Express Complex
1971 Avenida Hermosa condos
1973 Sentry Center
1979 Pueblo Bonita duplexes
1980 North Phoenix Baptist Church
1981 Salt River Project Administration Building
1981 Intel Deer Valley Facility
1982 Haver Office Building 16th St. North of Glendale Ave.
1986 Four Haver Family custom homes: Mesa, Carefree, Phoenix, and Cave Creek