fbpx

Exploring Optima Communities: Camelback Mountain

One of the reasons we were inspired to move to Arizona was our love for the surrounding desert landscape, and that same passion still resonates across our Arizona communities. An iconic landmark in the greater Phoenix area, Camelback Mountain is a prime example of the way nature informs our own designs through its neighboring Optima communities, Optima Sonoran Village and Optima Camelview Village. But Camelback Mountain has its own distinct allure, fostering a wide-reaching and beloved sense of community for many in the area.

Camelback is located in the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area between the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix and the town of Paradise Valley, and is named after its distinct shape, which resembles the hump and head of a kneeling camel. The site has long held significance to Native tribes and settlers in the area, and by the early 1900s, there were strong efforts to keep the mountain protected and preserved. The surrounding area saw major development, but in 1965, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater helped secure the higher elevations against development. The area became a Phoenix city park in 1968.

View of Camelback Mountain from Optima Camelview Village
View of Camelback Mountain from Optima Camelview Village

Phoenix offers seven breathtaking mountain summits to climb, and Camelback Mountain has the highest, reaching 2,704 feet to provide the best views in the area. Climbing to the summit is considered a right of passage for many.  Hikers can choose from two trails to reach the summit: Echo Canyon and Cholla. Both trails are difficult, with Echo Canyon being the steeper of the two and Cholla being the longer option. Luckily, there are a few less strenuous trail hikes as back-up options, as well. Camelback is the perfect place to experience the vast diversity of desert beauty; from colorful granite, to blooming wildflowers, to local wildlife. And since the trailhead is only 20 minutes away from downtown, there are plenty of places to recharge after a long hike.  

There’s a reason why Camelback Mountain is considered one of Phoenix’s Points of Pride; the beauty both on — and off — the mountain top are truly spectacular. 

Giving Back: Cleaning Up Skokie Lagoons

As part of our commitment to the built and natural environments, our team regularly organizes outings that give back to the community. Not only do these opportunities allow us to create meaningful impact, but they serve as team-building and bonding exercises, as well. Most recently, we took a trip out to local Skokie Lagoons to help keep the area clean. 

Skokie Lagoons are just a short drive from our Glencoe office. An 894-acre destination, the lagoons are the premier spot for both people and wildlife, offering critical natural habitats and the chance for visitors to appreciate the outdoors through canoe and kayak rentals, biking and hiking trails and picnic areas.

The Optima team at Skokie Lagoons

To help restore the area with healthy woodland, savanna and prairie habitats, Skokie Lagoons relies upon volunteers to regularly remove invasive plants such as buckthorn, garlic mustard and Canada thistle.

Cleaning up Skokie Lagoons

Working with the Cook County Forest Preserve, our team joined the Shedd Aquarium for a Great Lakes Action Day to help restore the local habitat and encourage amphibians and other wildlife to thrive. We cut and burned the thick and concentrated invasive buckhorn brush to make room for native flora and fauna.

To learn more about the Skokie Lagoons and how you can support wildlife restoration, visit their website.

The New Architecture: Integrating the Built and Natural Environment

In a recent New York Times article, author Karrie Jacobs wrote that the “hard barriers between the designed environment and the natural one are softening maybe for good.” 

Jacobs went on to say, “Designers today are rebalancing the relationship between architecture and nature, with the goal of increasing the quality of life, especially in urban settings.” 

The NYTimes article features several new and innovative works by global architects who are designing to fuse outdoor and indoor, with structures that are both influenced by and have influence on their environment. We love to see the innovation taking place throughout the architecture world, and the continued conversation surrounding how design can evolve to appreciate nature.

From the beginning, our work at Optima has celebrated this fundamental connection between design and nature as a way of enhancing the human experience. Since our founding in the late 70s, we have been utilizing Modernist design to create homes that are an extension of their environment and integrate nature into the lives of those that live in them.

Sandy Knoll, Optima, Homewood, Illinois
Sandy Knoll, Optima, Homewood, Illinois

One of our first residences, Sandy Knoll, demonstrated how modular housing could integrate a home into a steep, challenging wooded knoll. What resulted was a beautiful home that preserved the integrity and grace of its site, with mature trees and local Illinois vegetation creating the views out of glass-paneled walls. 

Since then, we have continuously challenged ourselves to evolve new ways of incorporating nature into our design. Green space has always been a large component to the communities that we build, and our move to Arizona has only deepened our intimate understanding of landscaping.

Relic Rock, Optima DCHGlobal, Scottsdale, Arizona
Relic Rock, Optima DCHGlobal, Scottsdale, Arizona

Our desert dwellings incorporate the elevation, vegetation and climate of the desert into every facet of design, from bridged courtyards to the materials and colors used for each home’s exterior. Glass curtainwalls also provide uninterrupted, panoramic views of the sweeping landscape, so that the mountains of the desert feel a part of each home.

Optima Sonoran Village, Scottsdale, Arizona
Optima Sonoran Village, Scottsdale, Arizona

In our multifamily work, we incorporate the Optima vertical landscaping system to create protection, privacy and beauty. For us, lush landscaping vertically and horizontally across our communities is an integral part of creating connection – a connection that is both physically inviting and spiritually inviting, as our design seeks to connect people with their surrounding environment.

We look forward to the future, to constantly pushing the boundaries and exploring how to further unify the built and natural environment. We’re excited that the work we do is part of a larger conversation in the architecture world and can’t wait to see what we, and others, do next for architecture and for the earth.

Green Space Spotlight: Optima Sonoran Village

At Optima, one of the cornerstones of our design process is the green space in our communities. With Optima Sonoran Village situated on a ten acre site in downtown Scottsdale, there was an abundance of space to become green. Of the ten acres, six of them are open space that not only mediate the harsh desert climate but also create visually stunning landscaped areas to be enjoyed by residents and the community.

https://www.optimaweb.com/color-design/

Lush Landscaping and Pedestrian Paths

Courtyard walking paths wind throughout the property, guiding public pedestrians into and through the development and its centralized courtyards. Surrounding the paths is a varied palette of plantlife. This colorful landscaping against the signature Optima pops of color provides a vibrancy and complement to the more subdued, natural hues of the surrounding desert. 

At Optima Sonoran Village in downtown Scottsdale, an abundance of green space enhances the surrounding community.

Original Public Art

Placed within the courtyards are five original David Hovey sculptures, which range in size up to ten feet. As expansive and evocative pieces of public art, these sculptures activate the spaces that they occupy, and enhance the experience of those passing through. 

Green Space as Mediator

The greenspace at Optima Sonoran Village also serves to mitigate the heat island effect, where dense urban areas experience warmer temperatures due to human activity. To reduce the urban heat island experienced in Scottsdale, the abundant landscaping throughout the courtyards provides shade and cooling through evapotranspiration — the release of water into the atmosphere from plant surfaces. 

At Optima Sonoran Village in downtown Scottsdale, an abundance of green space enhances the surrounding community.

Outdoor Amenities

Nestled within the courtyards and their intricate spread of walking paths are exceptional outdoor amenities. A large fountain serves as a dazzling display and a centerpiece around which to lounge and relax. Farther in, an outdoor resort pool with lounge chairs, umbrellas and firepits is made private by the surrounding landscaping.

The greenery continues, drawing the eye upward to the building’s spectacular vertical landscaping and creating a whole immerse experience. The effect of walking through the property’s greenspace, backdropped by dusky desert mountains, is one of entering a lush oasis. 

As an installation in downtown Scottsdale and with paths open to the public, the greenspace at Optima Sonoran Village is enhancing not only the community of the development, but of its surrounding area too. 

person name goes here

Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL





    Acceptable file types: *.pdf | *.txt | *.doc, max-size: 2Mb