(Preview) Texas Architects July/August 2015: Makers

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Of Note Dallas Modern The Dallas Architecture Forum Visual Profile Books (2015)

It takes equal pride in its cowboy attitude and its high-tech prowess; its open-pit barbecue and its refined cuisine; its plentiful suburbs and its pockets of urbanity. It is no wonder then that Dallas, despite an abundance of builder-designed French chateaux (and worse), also takes pride in its modern architecture. Pritzker Prize-winners are embraced with enthusiasm — a fact that gives us, a certain brand of crusading architect, reason to keep on doing what we do. Lovingly compiled, edited, and published by the Dallas Architecture Forum, “Dallas Modern” showcases, in the best possible light, some of the finest recent and not-so-recent modern houses in town. Legendary homes like Richard Meier’s Rachofsky House and Philip Johnson’s Beck Residence glow alongside jewels by such local talents as Howard Meyer (FAIA), Frank Welch (FAIA), Max Levy (FAIA), Ron Wommack (FAIA), and many others. Brief and elegant essays by Mark Gunderson (AIA), Maxwell Anderson, and Jeremy Strick explore a range of subjects: the idea of a “Texas architecture,” the broader cultural context in which Dallas resides, and the theme of art in the domestic environment. Carefully curated, these essays round out a volume that is a visual and intellectual delight. Dallas is a city of paradox.

6 Houses Murali Paranandi, editor Miami University INNOVATE series (2014)

grounds its work in mid-century modern principles as translated through a strain of refined pragmatism. “6 Houses,” the first volume of a new series curated by Miami University professor Murali Paranandi, features a half-dozen Alterstudio homes, each designed in the face of real-world constraints: limited budgets, ordinary lot restrictions, and the conventions of well-established (and in some cases historical) neighborhoods. The slim volume features richly lit photos as well as aerial maps, floor plans, house descriptions, and, most importantly, eloquent and substantive essays by noted architects Wilfried Wang, Carlos Jiménez, and John M. Reynolds. The essayists provide an intellectual framework for Alterstudio’s work, coaxing readers into a deeper understanding of how each house provides a unique example of the ways in which common, conflicting desires act as catalysts for engaging with profoundly larger issues. Wang suggests that, in eschewing fetishization to instead sensibly engage the details — of a site, of a neighborhood, of a family’s needs — Alterstudio achieves art. Reynolds celebrates the houses’ lack of excess and pretense, noting that they “proffer a new … form of late modernism” which, in addressing environmental and social concerns, expands upon the mid-century modern legacy. Jiménez places the homes at a crossroads of global and local forces. At a moment in time when global society is tasked with devising a more livable human experience, “6 Houses” prompts critical dialogue about how we, as architects, should design, build, and engage with the world around us. Austin-based Alterstudio Architecture

Eurico R. Francisco, AIA, is a design principal with HDR in Dallas.

Miranda Grieder, Assoc. AIA, is a native Austinite and the founder of the Little Building Design Studio in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

7/8 2015

Texas Architect 11

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