The Voice for Texas Architecture

Woods High School

“Making use of his own will in his contact with his environment, he (the child) develops his various facilities and thus becomes in a sense his own creator. We should regard this secret effort of the child as something sacred.” —Maria Montessori

In education reform circles, excitement about new approaches to learning that go beyond the standard lecture-and-learn model is peaking. Even the U.S. Department of Education, never the first to board any sort of cutting-edge train, touts a quasi-revolutionary vision of student-led learning: “Transitioning away from seat time, in favor of a structure that creates flexibility, allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning.”

There’s money at stake, too. In 2012, more than $1 billion in venture capital funding flowed to educational technologies that enable such student-directed learning (up from $146 million just a decade earlier). Given the excitement, it would be easy to look at educational strategies that prioritize less seat time, more independence among students, and flexible pacing and be wowed into thinking there’s something fundamentally revolutionary going on. But doing so would betray a misunderstanding of the history of education in the 20th century.

Go back 108 years to Maria Montessori’s first school in Rome. The school embraced, and Montessori popularized, the ideas of self-directed learning, flexible seat-time, and other instructional techniques that have gained new currency in the age of education apps. Under her influence, the ideas spread far and wide. By 1962, those ideas gained a toehold in the greater Houston area when School of the Woods opened its doors in Spring, Texas. Located in the pine forest, the school was named not after the trees, but after Ernest and Hilda Wood, who were among its founders. The couple influenced the institution’s adoption of the Montessori method, including its adherence to multi-age classrooms to foster peer learning, guided choice of work activity among students, and provision of uninterrupted blocks of time in which to do it.

The physical environment of the school reflects the Montessori philosophy. Donna Kacmar, FAIA, of Natalye Appel + Associates says a new high school building, now under construction after a decade of fundraising, follows suit. “We investigated different learning environments and how to connect the architecture to the Montessori curriculum,” she notes. Scheduled for construction this year and designed some years back by Appel + Associates, Architect Works, and James Ray Architects, the structure employs several key design elements to foster independent learning. The community space is at the heart of the program. Fluid and varied, the space is contiguous from the open-air gymnasium through the classroom wing; it continues to the wooded site beyond. Plan and sectional variety support simultaneous and complementary learning activities among students: Performance, gatherings, and group learning can take place while other students engage in individual work, reading, or simply thinking.

Changes in scale and light quality, and attention to materials and acoustics, are all carefully deployed to support learners with multiple intelligences, and to reflect the schools’ educational and philosophical priorities. Seamless indoor-outdoor environments, apparent in clusters of classrooms, patios, and balconies, encourage awareness of the natural world. Daylighting, natural ventilation, and rainwater harvesting are a physical embodiment of school’s environmental agenda. When completed, the new high school structure seeks to embody Maria Montessori’s view of the reciprocal relationship between education and the environment. “Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment,” she wrote. School of the Woods High School is designed to facilitate such experiential learning at its richest.

Ashley Craddock is the guest editor for Texas Architect magazine.

This article is online content for the July/August 2015 issue of Texas Architect.

Q&A with David Adjaye

Before she died in 2007, artist, collector, and philanthropist Linda Pace commissioned David Adjaye to design her Foundation’s new gallery, called “Ruby City.” TA contributor Patrick Michels talks to the architect about the gallery design, his experience working in Texas, and what advice he has for architects in our state looking to create meaningful public spaces.

David Adjaye – courtesy Adjaye Associates

How did you become involved with the Linda Pace Foundation, and how does this building reflect Linda Pace’s influence? 

I came to San Antonio in 2007 to meet with Linda, and she shared with me a sketch she had created of an idea that came to her in a dream of a “Ruby City.” That vision, of a jewel-like structure sited on San Antonio’s San Pedro Creek, was a powerful inspiration. During the trip, we explored the Foundation’s property and the extraordinary San Antonio Missions. The architecture of the Missions informed the design — particularly with respect to the vaulting and skylit gallery. We were also motivated by the topography of the site and the wider project to rehabilitate the area into a vibrant new urban park and cultural campus. So the design for the building also became about creating an important civic moment for the city.

Describe a few of your favorite features in Ruby City’s design.

One feature we are enjoying is the opportunity for experimentation with materials in order to create a red building. We have been exploring techniques of embedding fragments of recycled red glass and other reflective materials to achieve sparkle into our ruby-tinted concrete.

What constraints did the space or its surroundings create that you had to respond to?

The building is located on Camp Street, one of several properties of the Pace Foundation, which can best be understood as a campus running from South Flores Street to the San Pedro Creek. It will be the third property developed — the first two being Chris Park and LPF offices on South Flores. The entry to the new building is from the west facing San Pedro Creek, which is currently under development to create a new urban park with pedestrian and bike paths leading from our site to downtown San Antonio.

What kind of experience will visitors have inside Ruby City, and how were those design decisions influenced by the content of the Pace Foundation’s collection?

The building is conceived as a loop, with a specific choreography attached to the significance of Camp Street. A grand stair off the lobby slowly steps upward in a space for Linda’s private life. It culminates at the second floor at a window overlooking Chris Park (a park Linda built in memory of her son). From there one can move through the three gallery spaces, each with a lantern oriented to a different sky position. The last gallery before descending back to the lobby overlooks the entry plaza and San Pedro Creek. From the lobby, one can move out of doors to the sculpture court on the south side of the property. A 24-ft canopy provides a shaded entrance and gathering place in front of the building.
The design of Ruby City is really about creating an experience that moves away from the idea of a picture gallery or an archive. Equally, it eschews the idea of the rarified object or a sense of the galleries becoming temple-like. Instead, it offers a relationship between the production and the reception of art, more than the framing of art. In this case, I have tried to access the specific narrative of what the work is part of, or what the setting of the work should be, and how this might resonate with universal questions that transcend time and culture. So the building is about an engagement with people, an engagement with a discussion of art and authorship, and an engagement with different ways of collecting and different ways of seeing the world.

You’ve always made a point of studying the places where you work, even visiting every African nation to study the continent’s architectural variations. What do you find unique about the landscape and predominant architecture of Texas?

The architecture and history of the Missions is highly specific, and the design of Ruby City references the historic Spanish tropes of these frontier buildings. More broadly, the marshy landscape and humid climate of San Antonio suggest an architecture of light balanced with the need for shade and a celebration of greenery.

What lessons can your work offer for architects in Texas who want to create meaningful public spaces?

All of my civic buildings aspire to offer a complex framework for social engagement. My hope is that this building will equally extend the civic realm of San Antonio with a space that is inclusive, energized, and uplifting. The concept has been driven by the Pace Foundation’s belief that art is essential for a dynamic society — and it was very much this quality about my other work that presented a synergy between myself and Linda.
Patrick Michels is an Austin-based reporter and staff writer at the Texas Observer.

Products: Curtain Wall Systems

By Rita Catinella Orrell

These curtain wall and glazing solutions help architects keep building views at a premium without sacrificing thermal efficiency, structural integrity, and sun control.


CRL-US Aluminum
Unit-Glazed Systems
crlaurence.com

CRL-U.S. Aluminum’s new Unit-Glazed Systems for installing commercial storefronts and window walls allow glaziers to fabricate in their own shop environments, reducing field labor by as much as 50 percent while accelerating the installation process. The manufacturer’s Unit Split mullions and Gravity Loaded sill flashing enable installers to easily snap each Unit-Glazed section together in the field. All Unit-Glazed Systems have been fully tested and approved for structural integrity and air and water infiltration. Shown here is the Encore Condominiums project in Nashville by the Atlanta-based firm Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates.


GLASSvent UT Windows
Kawneer
kawneer.com

Featuring a visually concealed vent designed for seamless integration with the framing system, GLASSvent UT windows create a complete, advanced thermal solution for commercial construction. The windows are ideal for architects looking to provide fresh-air ventilation without decreasing the overall thermal rating of the facade. Engineered for integration with Kawneer’s 1600UT System 1 curtain wall, GLASSvent can also be inserted into the manufacturer’s captured curtain wall and front set storefront framing systems.

 

Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope
Reliance-HTC
oldcastlebe.com

The Reliance-HTC thermal curtain wall system from Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope features outside glazing with captured and Structural Silicone Glazed (SSG) vertical mullions, offering superior thermal separation through the use of insulating strips on all vertical and horizontal members. Reliance-HTC can meet ASHRAE climate zones 1–8 and is offered in 7-1/4″ and 10″ depths for 1-3/4″ glazing. The system is also available in 7-1/2″ and 10-1/4″ depths for 2″ glazing and accepts Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope’s high performance AD-375 Thermal Door system as well as operable vents.

 

Namgoong Sun, Tel. +82 10 5494 6090 e-mail : viewpt@gmail.com, permission required for reproduction, mention of copyright


Solarban z75 Solar Control Glass
PPG
ppgideascapes.com

Solarban z75 is a solar control, low-e glass from PPG with a neutral, cool-gray tint that offers architects a good combination of visible light transmittance (VLT), solar-control, and glare-control characteristics. In a standard 1″ insulating glass unit, Solarban z75 glass has a VLT of 48 percent and a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.24, resulting in an exceptional light-to-solar gain (LSG) ration of 2.00, making it ideal for warmer climate zones with high air-conditioning demands and cooling-dominated costs. The glass has interior reflectance of just 9 percent, which helps provide building occupants with clear, natural outdoor views.

 

Tubelite
400 Series System
tubeliteinc.com

Utah State University’s recently completed 32,744-sf Wayne Estes Training Center, which houses the campus’ basketball practice facility and 1,400-seat volleyball court, was designed by VCBO Architecture and built by Oakland Construction. Glazing contractor Steel Encounters installed the Center’s signature exterior curtain wall using Tubelite’s 400 Series system. Ducworks added a stainless steel, laser-cut, bull-shaped “Aggie” logo to accent the building using Tubelite’s standard sunshade clips.

This post is online content for the November/December 2015 issue of Texas Architect.

Honeymoon Café

Located at the corner of Congress Avenue and Main Street in Houston’s Sterne Building, the Honeymoon Café and Bar is a daytime addition to the rapidly developing nightlife scene in the area. Formerly an oversized TexMex restaurant, the space was in desperate need of simplification — something that would “engender the casual spirit of a French-inspired café,” notes CONTENT Architecture founder Jesse Hager, AIA.

With a modest budget, the design team focused on bringing a light and airy feeling to the cafe. An arched back bar and a large interior window, which allows views into the roasting room, define the space. Windows wrap the perimeter along the corner, providing glimpses of the hustle and bustle of the street. And marble tabletops fit for a Parisian sidewalk offer spots where patrons can enjoy the energy of a revitalizing district throughout the day and well into the night as coffee mugs are replaced with highballs.

This article is online content for the September/October 2015 issue of Texas Architect.

The Vision of Paolo Soleri

More than 10 years in the making, Lisa Scafuro’s documentary “The Vision of Paolo Soleri: Prophet in the Desert” can be classified as nothing less than a labor of love. And Scafuro, who served as the project’s producer, writer, director, and editor, is at last reaping the benefits of her labor as the film continues to be screened across the country.

The story captures the life and work of the late Italian architect Paolo Soleri (1919–2013). Born in Turin, Soleri move to the United States and was an apprentice under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West. Soleri established himself as an iconic figure of counterculture living through his Arcosanti settlement in the high desert of Arizona and his philosophy of “arcology” — the symbiosis of architecture and ecology.

“I first met Paolo in the summer of 1996,” said Scafuro. “I was immediately intrigued by his work and quickly wanted to know more.” She discovered a wealth of information and documentation about Soleri’s life form the 1940s to the 1980s. “I realized that Paolo’s work had long been voiced to the public by his wife, Carolyn “Colly” Soleri, but when she passed in 1982, the information-sharing ceased.”

So Scafuro set out to revive the documentation of the man behind the vision. But with Soleri’s busy schedule, filming did not take place until 2002 and took over a decade to complete. After years of dedication, Scafuro’s dream was realized when she was able to screen a rough cut of the film to Soleri on his 93rd birthday. “Paolo was such a humble man, but you could tell that he was pleased with how the documentary turned out,” said Scafuro.

Architect, urban planner, and environmentalist Soleri’s principles touched and made an impace on the lives of many. Scafuro captures his story through a series of interviews with “wish list” individuals — ranging from architect Steven Holl to 60 Minutes journalist Morley Safer — whose stories weave the tale of Soleri’s life and career.

“The Vision of Paolo Soleri: Prophet in the Desert” allows the legacy of Soleri to live on. Scafuro says it best: “Paolo was so much more than an architect. He remains a relevant contemporary of the built environment that we should all take a chance to learn from.”

Charlotte Friedley is the communications specialist for the Texas Society of Architects.

This article is online content for the September/October 2014 issue of Texas Architect.

Do Ho Suh

Beginning on September 20, The Contemporary Austin will feature work by Korean-born sculptor and installation artist Do Ho Suh. His first major solo exhibition in the U.S. in more than a decade will be on display at the Jones Center on Congress Avenue and the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria.

“Do Ho Suh has assembled a collection of pieces that seamlessly thread the museum’s two sites together,” said Heather Pesanti, curator at The Contemporary Austin. “The exhibition focuses on a mini-survey of his architecturally inspired works based on domestic spaces and objects.”

Do Ho Suh’s meditations on the built environment explore the transient and impermanent quality of the “home” — an issue that increasingly confronts the Austin population. The “348 West 22nd Street” series, for example, is characterized by ephemeral, sheer structures created as an homage to the artist’s various living spaces in New York. It is presented at the Jones Center alongside the “Specimen” series, which features intimately-scaled everyday objects rendered in fabric stretched over stainless steel pieces.

Do Ho Suh’s dynamic installation “Net-Work” has been re-fabricated for display at Laguna Gloria and will be installed along the shores of Lake Austin. Inspired by the artist’s observations of Japanese seaside villages, “Net-Work” mimics the configuration of a fishing net while being comprised of thousands of intricately-fashioned, gold and silver human figures seamlessly joined at the hands and feet. An installation that would not be at home unless lightly touching the water, the metallic net promises to glimmer and sway in the current.

The Contemporary Austin’s Executive Director Louis Grachos notes that the exhibition is particularly appropriate for Austin: “With a population that has always been identified by its creative class, it makes sense that Austin should host one of the most highly respected and critically acclaimed artists working today.”

Charlotte Friedley is the communications specialist for the Texas Society of Architects. 

This article is online content for the September/October 2014 issue of Texas Architect.

Renovating for Play

In 1985, Houston’s Collier Library opened its doors for the first time to its Oak Forest patrons. When the building at 6200 Pinemont Drive once again opened its doors in 2011, the library had undergone a full interior renovation by the local firm Brave Architecture. The Collier Library is the third in a series of joint-venture renovations by Brave and the Houston Public Library that are creating a standard for future rehabilitations of libraries throughout the city.

The 12,000-sf renovation was prompted by an outdated aesthetic and lack of overall functionality. Working within the existing footprint, Brave executed minimal, judicious interventions to redefine the library spatially, establishing distinct areas for a variety of age groups through the use of new partitions and specialized branding.

The radial arrangement expands out from the welcome desk at the center of the plan, a position which eases staff monitoring while providing a central location to cater to each group area. A minimally invasive series of glass partitions enforces the radial plan, and supporting super graphics and color strategies identify the distinct adult, teen, and kid sections. The color code — blue for the Adult Area, red for the Teen Area, and white for the Kid Area — is enhanced by etched glass signage labeling each space.

Brave tailored each area for the specific user group. Thoughtful detail defines the furniture, color, millwork, signage, scale, and spatial layout of the three sections.

The Adult Area adheres to more conventional library features: Chair and table heights are standard, and there are several bays of computers and numerous tall stacks filled with books. But Brave designed the Teen and Kid areas with a contemporary audience in mind. Vibrant red and blue partitions enclose this space, an ode to a generation defined by technology and social interaction. Adorned with

fewer stacks and more computer stations, the Teen Area has sleek furnishings with a variety of seating accommodations that range from paired high-chair tables to casual low-slung lounge sofas, which appeal to teenagers who embrace the evolving definition of how a library should look and feel.

Walking along the entry corridor toward the welcome desk, guests are immediately drawn to an area that can most adequately be described as for play — the Kids Area. Bold-colored furniture enlivens the space while also helping to identify distinct activity areas — different hues mark areas for reading, sitting, and exploring. Houston-based artist Bree Wristers — better known as BREE “The Mural Girl” — was brought on by Brave to paint an anamorphic typology that inspires readers of all ages to further investigate the world of their imagination through reading. The text painted on the library wall bleeds onto a wooden cubby installation, which was purposefully left empty and reads differently depending on one’s vantage point, ultimately reinforcing a childhood sense of wonder and discovery.

While elements of the existing building and previous library design, such as the wooden ceiling and grid of fluorescent lightings, remain, the collaborative interventions made by Brave Architecture and Houston Public Library have created a newly invigorated space, which not only to serves as a model for future library rehabilitations, but also embraces design solutions for the evolving needs and desires of contemporary libraries.

Charlotte Friedley is the communications specialist for the Texas Society of Architects.

This article is “More Online” content for the May/June 2014 issue of Texas Architect.

An Interview with Brooke Hodge, Guest Curator at the Nasher

On September 13, the Nasher Sculpture Center opens its third exhibition dedicated to architecture. “Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio” details the iterative process of the wildly creative London-based firm of Thomas Heatherwick. Texas Architect Editor Catherine Gavin interviewed guest curator Brooke Hodge about the exhibition.

How did you choose the exhibition materials?

Because Heatherwick Studio is not as well known in the U.S. as they are in the U.K., I wanted to show visitors the full range of the practice, from small objects to very large buildings and developments. Each project is represented by materials that architects and designers use in the design process — models, prototypes, inspiration, or research objects — to test their ideas. The film and video footage shows how the actual object or structure (i.e. the Plank furniture, the Olympic Cauldron, or the Rolling Bridge) works. In architecture exhibitions, the real thing (the building) can never be shown, since there is only one of it and it’s too big to fit into a gallery space. Because of this, a number of different types of materials need to work together to explain the project and the design process. Also, visitors can’t touch things in museums, so the simple film demonstrations of how someone works are really important. Films are also an important part of Heatherwick’s design process, which really focuses on problem solving and making sure things work properly. The photographs show the finished buildings or structures. If a project is still in process, then we have included the studio’s rendering (or visualization) of what it will look like.

What inspired the special section dedicated to Heatherwick Studio’s creative process?

The creative process of designers and architects is something that I don’t think most museum visitors understand, so I wanted to open a window onto how Heatherwick and his team think about their projects. The studio is really like a laboratory for problem solving, and they start each project with a question, or provocation (hence the title of the show), and then work through many iterations to come up with the best way to answer that question.

What does the work of Heatherwick Studio say about the current state and the future of design and architecture?

I think the work of Heatherwick Studio shows that it’s possible for a studio to be working on many scales at once and without a particular signature style (i.e., not all of their buildings look the same). The studio’s signature is ingenuity. The number of projects the studio has in Asia shows how much building is going on there and also that clients there may be more willing to take a risk with a studio that doesn’t have the worldwide recognition of a Norman Foster or a Frank Gehry, because they are interested in the ingenuity of Heatherwick’s approach to each individual project.

Why is the Nasher an appropriate venue for this exhibition?

I think the Nasher is appropriate because it has shown several other architecture exhibitions in the past. Many of the Heatherwick models and prototypes are very sculptural, and we thought they would be amazing in the Nasher’s galleries, which are especially well suited to three-dimensional objects.

This article is online content for the September/October 2014 issue of Texas Architect.

Soto: The Houston Penetrable

 

The first question I ask myself when walking into (and I mean into) Jesús Rafael Soto’s “Houston Penetrable” is, “What would Mies think?” Granted, I ask myself that a lot, having spent a good deal trying to think as Mies van der Rohe did; however, in this case, with the work installed inside Cullinan Hall, the van der Rohe-designed addition to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Caroline Wiess Law Building, the question truly makes sense.

It is necessary to walk through the work, experiencing the piece from all angles. The PVC tubes gather around your body, tangling up and hanging onto you as you walk from one side to the other. Looking toward the ceiling allows one to notice the simple yet intensive rigging system — a feat of engineering. Standing perfectly still and looking straight into the suspended pipes, tiny alleys appear, beckoning you to walk through them. The upper floor of the pavilion allows a view from afar, with the glowing yellow orb floating amongst movement from other visitors.

Soto, whose work is well known in South America (he was born in Venezuela), Europe, and Asia, where he realized many projects, conceived of the site-specific architectural work shortly before his death in 2005. This remarkable installation, which took 10 years to produce and install, is, by any standards, the ultimate piece in Soto’s oeuvre of penetrables. He was a pioneer in the exploration of movement as it relates to both the object and the participation of the viewer, and his work in Houston is completed only when the viewer enters into the work. Hand-painted PVC tubes dangle 28 feet from ceiling to floor — with the bright yellow orb swaying slightly in the middle of the space. Weighing 

over 15,000 pounds and needing a team of architects, producers, and engineers working together to produce it, “Houston Penetrable” is, honestly, somewhat magical.

Soto began his series of penetrables in the late 1960s, and they were mostly temporary, on a smaller scale, and installed both indoors and outdoors. His work with penetrables grew from early sculptures and wall works. They are not kinetic in the sense that they move on their own; the movement happens when the viewer walks by the sculpture, creating illusions that animate the sculpture to the naked eye. The movement helped create another type of space — a space occupied not only by the object, but now also by the person activating that object. With these works, Soto is also classified as an optical artists, and he participated in “The Responsive Eye,” a historic and controversial exhibition at MoMA in 1965. The “Houston Penetrable” is Soto’s only indoor, site-specific permanent installation; a small collection of sculptures and wall works are on view in the lobby, creating a context for the larger work installed beyond.

Returning to my original question of what van der Rohe would think, I know he would be pleased — dare I say excited — to see what Soto envisioned for the building. Sometimes, it is as simple as glass, steel, and concrete, and other times, it includes painted PVC pipe and a plethora of visitors.

Rachel Adams is an Austin-based curator and writer. 

This article is online content for the July/August 2014 issue of Texas Architect.

Clients’ Corner: Vicki Faust’s Boutique Hotels

Within Vicki Faust’s growing collection of boutique hotels exists the miniature retreat of the Art Barn. As a stand-alone addition to the Kimber Modern SOCO, the Art Barn remains true to the hotelier’s theme of architectural connectivity to the community through the chalkboard facade treatment displayed on the prominent elevation of the building. – photo by Julie Pizzo Wood​

Vicki Faust and Kimber Cavendish have got it right. As Austin’s hospitality industry reaches skyscraper heights, they’ve established a niche within the industry. Their intimate boutique hotels began with the petite Kimber Modern in the city’s South Congress neighborhood. Designed by Austin-based Baldridge Architects, the hotel was a 2012 Texas Society of Architects Design Award recipient and set a new standard for boutique hotels in the city. Faust and Cavendish recently broke ground on their second venture with Baldridge Architects, the Kimber Modern Rainey, and I took the opportunity to catch up with Faust about the Kimber Modern’s success.

Faust is the first to say that she and Cavendish are relative newcomers to the hospitality industry, but first-hand experience has taught the duo a lot since 2005, when they first approached Burton Baldridge, AIA, about designing their hotel. The South Congress location was challenging, to say the least. But Faust recalls that Baldridge’s proposal quickly stood out amongst the other designs. The building cut into the slope, almost becoming one with the steep topography. “Burton gave us a little bit extra in his design,” says Faust. “It made all the difference in the world. He delivered a livable piece of art.”

Tel: 512 441 1700
email: burton@baldridge-architects.com

Instead of perching the building on top of the primary slope, Baldridge Architects cut the building mass of the Kimber Modern SOCO into the hill while maneuvering the building mass to accommodate the existing live oak population. – photo by Casey Dunn

When Faust and Cavendish decided to expand and construct Kimber Modern Rainey, they wanted to maintain the look and feel of their brand while also pushing the design envelope. Baldridge was a natural fit. The four-story, approximately 30-room downtown hotel will be nestled among numerous bars and restaurants and not too far away from other larger hotels under construction. The hope is for the Kimber Modern Rainey, which is programmed with a restaurant, bar, lounge, and pool, to become a neighborhood hot spot. “We wanted another standout building,” says Faust. “We’re not copying anybody. We are creating something completely new.” 

The four-storied Kimber Modern Rainey represents a departure from Kimber Modern SOCO in terms of the building’s urban context; however, by partnering with Baldridge Architects once more, Faust and Cavendish are ensuring a consistency in the look and feel. – courtesy of Baldridge Architects​

One would think that, between running a successful boutique hotel and managing the construction of another, Faust would have her hands too full for yet another project. Not so. “Kimber jokes that my epitaph will read, “I have an idea!’” jokes Faust, who also made time recently to spearhead a small addition to the Kimber portfolio. The Art Barn is a one-room space designed on the footprint of an 1800s carriage house. Faust collaborated with Austin-based Derik Demerey to create a Corten silhouette of the old structure and then finished the street facade with an art wall featuring New Orleans-based artist Candy Chang’s “Before I Die…” project. The building’s chalkboard facade treatment has transcended the aesthetic dimension to become an active and ever-changing reflection of community participation.

Art Barn, located in a primarily residential neighborhood, addresses the street with its unique solid facade. – photo by Julie Pizzo Wood

“Several guests have commented that they enjoy hearing the faint sounds of people writing and drawing on the board,” says Faust. “The community and the neighborhood like the interaction.”

Stray bits and pieces of chalk lay scattered at the base of the Art Barn’s wall. – photo by Julie Pizzo Wood

As lovers of modern design, Faust and Cavendish wanted to be “a part of something bigger.” The pair has definitely accomplished this. Their work is not only contributing to the design conversation in Austin but also setting a high bar to be matched. Their partnership with Baldridge Architects has successfully achieved their aspirations and made them really happy in the process. “I find absolute joy and wonderment everyday as I walk into the courtyard of the Kimber Modern,” says Faust.

Charlotte Friedley is the communications specialist for the Texas Society of Architects.

This article is online content for the July/August 2014 issue of Texas Architect.