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Update: UT Living Wall

The first living wall at The University of Texas at Austin has been installed.  Check out this video of the finished product: UT Austin Installs First Living Wall on Campus from University of Texas at Austin on Vimeo. Learn more about UT's living wall project here. 

Blank Canvas

Working with an architect for the first time, Dr. Maggie Hart and Patrick Woodson began their journey with an inspired vision for an irresistible but challenging site in West Austin. Their ideal house was perfectly illustrated in a design publication — a project by Dallas-based Malone Maxwell Borson Architects (MMB). Magazine in hand, the couple began their search for an architect who could bring this family of five closer to their vision.  Nervously, Maggie decided to call Michael Malone, AIA, the founding principal of MMB. Surprised to find Malone fielding his own phone calls, the couple was reassured by his…

Q&A with Tere O’Connell, AIA

When the City of Austin decided to use East Austin’s historic Dedrick-Hamilton house as the basis for a new African American Cultural Heritage Facility, the job fell to Austin preservationist Tere O’Connell, AIA, to unearth details of the home’s history and how best to preserve it. O’Connell spoke with Texas Architect about the ever-changing priorities that drive demand for preservation work, and the challenge of preservation in a community where so much history either is lost or was never officially recorded. The interview was conducted by Patrick Michels. Historic preservation architect Tere O'Connell, AIA – photo courtesy Tere O'Connell From a preservation…

UT Austin to Install Living Wall Five Years in the Making

The wall will be built over a honeycomb-shaped trellis and extend to the ground – rendering courtesy UTSOA On May 16, volunteers will come together to install a living wall at The University of Texas at Austin. The project is funded by the school’s Green Fee Award. Spearheaded by UT Austin Vice President for Operations Pat Clubb, the living wall project is being shepherded by Assistant Professor Danelle Briscoe. The idea for the wall was put forth by a former Austin city councilman, Chris Riley. The first wall will be installed on the northwest corner of the school of architecture, with others…

Lake|Flato Home Wins AIA Housing Award

Hog Pen Creek's boardwalk connects the main house with a guest space and lake pavillion. – photo by Casey Dunn Lake|Flato’s Hog Pen Creek Residence, featured in the September/October 2014 issue of Texas Architect, has been honored with a 2016 AIA Housing Award. The project is one of 10 across the country being honored, and the only one in Texas. This is not the first award for the project, which has also received AIA San Antonio’s 2013 Merit Award and a 2014 TxA Design Award. A courtyard is open to the outdoor environment – photo by Casey Dunn The house, a harmonious combination…

Everything Old is New Again

Construction progresses under the beamed ceiling at 500 Chicon – photo by Elizabeth Hackler 500 Chicon, with its exposed brick, soaring roof beams, and center atrium, is already beautiful. But the things that we love most about the building are also the things that cause challenges when attempting a renovation. In order to improve its functionality, changes to the HVAC system and acoustics needed to be made. The exposed brick walls lend character, but they lack insulation completely. The open nature of the space allows light to reach deeper into the basement, but it also allows sound to travel without impediment.…

Campsite Rules

For several years now, real estate developers out for a quick buck have been buying up single-family and duplex homes in central Austin, demolishing them, and erecting code-compliant structures on the lots that look like big houses from the outside but are in fact apartment buildings housing as many as six un-related adults. Rooms in these cheaply made and unattractive structures go for around $1,000 per month, which, when all is tallied, amounts to a tidy profit for the slumlord. For neighbors, however, these Trojan Horses are real nuisances, creating parking, trash, and noise issues, not to mention corrupting the…

Field of Dreams

Architecture was once said to be technologically decades behind other constructive disciplines. Post-World War II mass production yielded the modern airliner for aviation, but Levittown for architecture. Now, thankfully, we’re catching up. Rapid prototyping soft- and hardware allow designers to directly test and manufacture at the human scale, from jewelry to complete building components. Our expanded tool kit arrives just as we’re also tasked with addressing our collective environmental crisis. These advances in fabrication and environmental investigation were key components of Field Constructs, a recent competition in Austin that featured four installations by talented, young designers. Field Constructs Design Competition…

Social Studies

Much of the extraordinary energy of the early Modern Movement in architecture focused on the notion that the built environment could have a profound impact on the everyday lives of ordinary people. Architects like Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius and Alvar Aalto were not designing museums and prestigious corporate headquarters in the 1920s and ’30s, but were focused instead on schools, healthcare facilities, housing and urban design, and on their potential for creating social benefit. Over the decades that followed, sociologists and psychologists would join architects in studying and projecting environments that could support and promote desirable…

Pollen at Peace

St. Edward’s University in Austin — known previously for its green lawns, historic trees, and red roofs — has shed its image as a sleepy hilltop campus with a focused portfolio of buildings by notable architects from around the world. In the past 15 years, an ambitious campus master plan — developed by Sasaki Associates under the direction of President George E. Martin — has resulted in more than one million square feet of construction and renovation. While many of the new buildings have expressed this disruption directly, a recent renovation and expansion of the campus’ long-standing chapel by Pollen…