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Did You Know: The 'House Of The Future' Was Built In Ahwatukee

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Thursday, December 31, 2015 - 3:46pm
Updated: Saturday, January 2, 2016 - 9:20am
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(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
The mailbox of the House of the Future facing Equestrian Trail.

When it was introduced to the Valley decades ago, it became an international phenomenon. It was unique inside and out, and the world was intrigued. The place still exists today, but it's somewhat forgotten.

A strategically sunken home in the middle of an Ahwatukee neighborhood once caught the attention of the world. It was called the "House of the Future." Did you know the house was a one-of-a-kind home operated by a cutting edge, multi-computer network?

“It was covered in periodicals, the media of the time, in 33 different countries. It became a world-famous house, in essence.”

Martin Gibson has researched the story behind the House of the Future that opened in February 1980.

“It was on T.V. shows of the time back then, ‘That’s Incredible,’ ‘P.M. Magazine.’ They came out to little, old Ahwatukee, Arizona, and profiled this futuristic house. And over four years 250,000 people came to the tour, and in the process Presley sold a lot of regular houses," said Gibson.

Randall Presley was a Real Estate investor who founded Ahwatukee and the reason why the House of the Future was built. The home is in the neighborhood known today as Custom Estates.

“It is on Equestrian Trail, so those two little lights or flower pots there, that is the entrance way," Gibson said.

The house is privately owned, and we hoped the owner would allow us a look inside.

Gibson said more than 30 years ago Presley was developing this area on the southern end of South Mountain.  He wanted something interesting to lure potential buyers. So he approached the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and asked if they would develop a home like no other.

“Had to have three things: It had to be futuristic. It had to accommodate a large number of people. It had to be a show place that people could walk through unlike a regular house,” said Gibson.

Dozens of companies helped build the property at an estimated cost of more than $2 million, a portion of it in donated materials. When completed, this was a 3,100 square-foot house installed with a state-of-the-art computer system with numerous sensors. It monitored the sliding doors and windows, controlled the temperature and humidity. It detected night and day and controlled the lights accordingly. These were just a few of its many futuristic features.

“It was a leap of faith. It was someone who, like Presley, had a vision and perhaps saw this being kind of the centerpiece of all the development that followed in the next 35 years,” said Gibson.

After four years, the house was sold. It has been sold several times over the years. Today, the property is more like a house of the past. The mostly subterranean home was constructed with a prism-shaped roof covered in bright copper. Decades later, the roof is patina green.

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