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By the turn of this century, 40 years after it was built and 20 years after the couple’s divorce, the Beck House looked like a classical ruin, although Mrs. Beck still lived there. Stained arches peered through the overgrown landscape; drapes fluttered from broken windows; faded Fortuny wall coverings revealed ghosts of pictures long removed; and walnut paneling remained bleached and split. The property had little appeal except for its location. Strait Lane, in elite north Dallas beyond the “Park Cities,” has accumulated an outrageous collection of fantasy mansions, 40,000-sf monsters in faux-chateaux/Mediterranean/French Country styles that made the Beck House modest in comparison. The land value alone nearly dictated it as a tear-down. the home from Mrs. Beck was of a different sort than their neighbors. They lived in an E.G. Hamilton-designed modern home — also considered a tear-down — that had been renovated for them by Bodron+Fruit, and they had an affinity for modern art and architecture. They would bring into the house something even Philip Johnson had been unable to goad the Becks into — an art collection. The grand public spaces, the central atrium with two sweeping stairs, and the large living, dining, and library spaces were well suited to large-scale modern art. The family bedrooms and baths, however, were small and dark, and the kitchen, which was planned for servant use, was situated down a long dark The couple who purchased

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The challenge was to provide private spaces to serve as a comfortable home for an active family of four, while rehabilitating the public areas for art, entertaining, and large social gatherings. hall. The challenge for Bodron+Fruit was to provide private spaces to serve as a comfortable home for an active family of four, while rehabilitating the public areas for art, entertaining, and large social gatherings. The architects approached the work as one might a Texas Historical Commission-approved courthouse restoration. The exteriors and public interior spaces are largely restored to their original condition, while private areas are remodeled for contemporary family life. The owners even met with Johnson and received his blessing on their plans. Bodron+Fruit had the benefit of all the original drawings and documents, found in the basement, including the well-worn Gardner Daily plans that Patty Beck carried back and forth to meetings with Johnson in New York. They realized that Johnson had not simply “draped” his arches over the predetermined scheme but had completely re-thought the plan based around the large central atrium. They also realized that the entire 6.75-acre site, not just the house, was planned on a five-ft grid. Johnson’s office had completely resolved all the grid intersections: inside corners, outside corners, transitions,

Texas Architect May/June 2013: Preservation  

This issue on historic preservation illustrates themany facets of the field, including restoration,rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse.

Texas Architect May/June 2013: Preservation  

This issue on historic preservation illustrates themany facets of the field, including restoration,rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse.