About the Orchard River Townhome Community
Orchard River Garden Park is a unique townhome community nestled between Fort Lowell Park and the Pantano Wash in Tucson. The subdivision is east of Craycroft Road and north of Glenn Street. It occupies a former pecan orchard which provided an instant lush landscape and plenty of shade in the summertime. This award-winning townhome community was built in 1972 and was designed by noted Tucson architect Robert Swaim, AIA. The neighborhood is currently working on an application to gain the National Historic District designation when the neighborhood turns 50 years old in 2022. Historic District status will allow homeowners to save significant amounts on property taxes.
The buildings are constructed of slump block concrete masonry in a late mid-century modern aesthetic. Some of the 136 units are single level and others are 2 level. They were sited to take advantage of reduced solar gain with windows facing north and south and to take advantage of the existing mature pecan trees to provide optimal shade.
Orchard River neighborhood amenities
The neighborhood has a large community pool that is solar heated about 9 months of the year and featured covered ramadas. Covered parking for residents is provided as well.
Orchard River is located in a unique location, sandwiched between Fort Lowell Park to the west and Pantano Wash and ‘The Loop‘ to the east. Fort Lowell Park offers tennis, soccer, baseball, a couple of ponds, adobe ruins and a museum about the namesake of the park. The Loop is a 131-mile multi-use network of paved paths that connects much of Tucson along the banks of the usually dry Pantano Wash, Rillito River, and Santa Cruz River. It is a very popular recreation destination for walkers, joggers, and bicyclists alike.
About architect Robert Swaim
Robert “Bob” Swaim was born and raised in Iowa, then moved to New Mexico before coming to Tucson in 1958. He worked for notable Tucson architecture firms including Friedman & Jobusch, Nicholas Sakellar, William Wilde, and William Cook, prior to opening his own firm.
Although Bob Swaim is now retired, his son Phil has continued the architectural tradition with a vibrant architecture firm, Swaim Associates LTD, still located in Tucson. They work on many large projects in and around Tucson.
Other notable buildings designed by Swaim’s firm
Some of Swaim’s work included the Volkswagen dealership on Speedway which featured a series of thin barrel vaults supported by thick beams and burnt adobe walls. Unfortunately most of this building has been razed with only a small portion left standing. When originally constructed in 1964, the building was a stunning example of modern automobile showroom design.
Swaim also worked on the building that now houses the Junior League on River near Campbell. The upside-down mirrored pyramid bank building at Speedway and Wilmot is also one of Swaim’s designs.
Eden Roc Condominiums is another wonderful mid-century multi-unit residential project that Swaim and Cook worked on. Eden Roc is just east of Reid Park and features masonry construction with very roomy floor plans.