Started in 2006, Lizard Rock Designs has a deep respect for the architectural traditions of our region.


LRD History

For Tom McQuillen, Prinicpal of LRD Architects, it all started with a sailboat. As a child, Tom and his father built a folbot (pronounced “foal-boat”). He was fascinated by the wooden rib structure and the balloon-like skin stretched and stapled over it. Tom’s love affair with sailboats and boat plans began, spurring a general interest in how things get built.

Later, Tom’s grandfather would show him buildings in New York City and talk to Tom about what makes cities, and even different areas of city, distinctive from one another. His grandfather would tell Tom about seeing Italian masons in front of apartment buildings showing their grandchildren which part of the brick façade they had laid. Tom would study and work in the city, and learned how its innovative zoning code produced some of the most spectacular tall buildings and cohesive urban neighborhoods in the world.

Tom moved to Tucson in 1996, and was exposed to the work of regional masters such as Place and Place, Josiah Joseler and Mary Colter as well as the indigenous forms from early settlers of Southern Arizona. Their work shows how important it is to understand why certain building types become common to an area, often as a response to local climate, cultural tradition and available materials. It demonstrates the value of studying, adapting and re-inventing the forms used informed by current technology and cultural developments. For example, the value of a shaded courtyard, appropriately scaled, with openings that respond to climate is timeless. LRD’s built environments combine Tom’s respect for city fabric and urban life with the rich architectural history of Southern Arizona.

LRD Firm Philosophy

LRD Architects is committed to making people’s lives better through architecture. Our goal is to create spaces that help our community members achieve their goals without the design becoming cumbersome. Our built environments are for the elder who moves into a senior living facility. For the veteran who has to get their blood drawn. For the lab tech who spends their day running procedures. For the family enjoying a day at the park.

Simply, we strive to design buildings that are nice to live in, help someone feel better and make a work day easier. We want our built environments to make good neighbors and bring life to the communities in which they exist.

LRD Design Philosophy

LRD has a deep respect for the architectural traditions of our region. We believe we can combine these traditions with modern planning to counter the lack of place and identity in modern architecture, without resorting to decoration for its own sake. LRD works to design buildings that are rooted in the modern tradition, but tied to the traditions of our region. Our approach sees regional architectural traditions as a resource and starting point.

LRD Architects strives to adopt modern architecture for its universal progressive qualities and, at the same time, respond to the geographical context of the building. Topography, climate, light and tectonic form rather than applied decoration, formalism or scene making should determine a building’s form and construction. Our projects seek to treat the built environment as an enhancement of the natural environment, respecting the resources of a site, such as views, terrain, landscape, water, light and climate. LRD looks for ways to join the influences of the desert landscape with the built form of our buildings.

LRD uses every technology and tool available to help our clients get the best possible result when we undertake a project. This includes building information modeling (BIM) such as Revit, rendering tools like Podium and Photoshop, and animation tools like Sketchup. Our toolbox also includes physical models and hand drawn sketches. While Revit and Sketchup offer precision and accuracy, physical models and sketches offer immediacy and possibility. Having the ability to provide these different forms of modeling offers our clients choices as we bring their design to life.