On the Boards
‘Dust to Dust’ Laura Bryant and Chelsea Vargas
Blanco Public Library Brett Wolfe, Assoc. AIA
For a planned expansion of the public library in Blanco, designer Brett Wolfe, Assoc. AIA, drew inspiration from F.E. Ruffini’s 1885 limestone courthouse that looms over the center of town about a half-mile away. Wolfe’s design reinterprets the older building’s massive, structural blocks with a facade of limestone veneer that appears to defy gravity by hanging from a more efficient and lighter steel structure. Large overhangs and deep windows minimize solar heat gain while ground-level glazing allows indirect natural light deep into the interior spaces. Along with a main volume for book stacks and study nooks, the interior program features a community meeting room, a bookstore, a café with adjacent patio, and a room dedicated to the Blanco History Museum. At the rear of the site, outdoor amenities include an amphitheater, sculpture garden, and patio for staff. Wolfe’s concept was recognized by AIA Austin with a 2011 Studio Award in the unbuilt category.
22 Texas Architect
Prototype Housing for Modest Means Edward M. Baum, FAIA
Edward M. Baum, FAIA, seeks to provide an alternative to traditional single-family homes by clustering four 1,350-sf residential units that share common interior walls and rigorously controlling construction costs. Each two-story dwelling contains three bedrooms (including one downstairs for elderly or infirm residents), two bathrooms, a combination living/dining/ kitchen, a laundry closet, and an upstairs “flex” space available as a fourth bedroom, along with amenities that include HVAC system, appliances, IKEA cabinets, a private courtyard, and an adjoining two-car parking area. Durable materials range from a roof of corrugated galvanized steel (minimizes solar heat gain) to perimeter walls of brick veneer (owner can customize with paint). The architect proposes that the prototype units could be marketed at approximately $1,000 per month in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Baum’s concept received a 2011 American Architecture Award sponsored by the Chicago Athenaeum and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
Their proposal for a 990-acre cemetery earned students from UT Austin’s School of Architecture an Honor Award in the 2011 ASLA Student Awards sponsored by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Laura Bryant and Chelsea Vargas, guided by faculty advisor Jason Sowell, developed the concept that draws parallels between the human cycle of life and death and the geological cycle of sedimentation and erosion. The site is in east Austin along the Colorado River where the cyclical depositing, eroding, and shifting of riverbeds over time have shaped two large swales that organize zones for six methods for disposing human remains—in-ground burial, interment in a crypt, interment in a mausoleum, inurnment in a mausoleum, natural burial (in which a shrouded body is placed into a grave dug by family and friends), and ash scattering. The cemetery will feature one primary chapel and crematorium, three smaller chapels, and a reception platform.