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Casa Xixim

Even the iguanas like to linger at Casa Xixim. The four-bedroom, 4,800-sf vacation villa takes calm and restful to a level that only a turquoise blue beachfront can. Located on Soliman Bay, a small inlet on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera just north of Tulum, the house maximizes views of its impressive landscape while shying away from its densely packed and very close neighbors. The slender lot, which spans from a mangrove marsh through a palm grove to the white sand beach, offered both opportunities and challenges for the architects as they worked to create a self-sufficient building, fit for the modern-day…

House on a Hill

Planted among the live oak trees atop the crest of a hill in West Austin, the Lake View Residence affords a sweeping view of the Bright Leaf Preserve to the west, while, to the east, enduring tree canopies shield the 5,900-sf home from the road. The immediate perception of seclusion from the surrounding neighborhood emanates from the design team’s careful attention to the quality and character of the outdoor spaces as much as the indoor ones. The layout is rich and complex, while adhering to, as designer Kevin Alter modestly describes it, a simple one­-room-wide plan. The particulars of the…

The Old House, and the New

Simultaneously private and public, houses are particularly charged repositories of aspiration and association. In the best projects, an architect responds to a client’s wishes by designing a work whose integrity is rooted in a frank engagement with the circumstances of daily life, the facts and figures of the commission, and the material and technical possibilities that architecture offers at that moment in time. When these concerns are harnessed by a strong idea and executed by a steady hand confident enough to leave room for the unscripted, the results are often felicitous, and occasionally revolutionary.  Jim Poteet’s renovation of, and addition…

Gray Matter

Mell Lawrence isn’t bound by any obvious book of rules. The Austin architect often gets labels like “whimsical” and “playful” tossed at his work. And yet, while there is a certain spirited quality underlying most of his projects, a keen observer will be drawn to the rigor and intellect that underpin them. In other words, there are rules.  For the Hollowcat Wild residence, the rules focused largely on materials. This mattered because the house is so starkly simple that no gesture goes unnoticed. “The client’s interests were very definitely simple modern architecture, things that were daring and dynamic in form,…

Ottmers Residence

The Ottmers residence sits northeast of Fredericksburg in a land- house into eight-ft bays. The conditioned area is pulled back from the landscape of rolling, oak-covered hills. In 2002, Katherine and Jeffrey Ottmers relocated to the area, to land that has been in Jeffrey’s family since the mid-1850s and remains a functioning ranch. The couple quickly self-built a compact house where they lived with their two children. There were always plans for a larger home, and after some initial sketches, they sought the advice of family friend and architect Vincent Snyder, AIA, who later offered to design the house. His…

Hog Pen Creek Residence

The subtitle of the new “Lake|Flato Houses” book is “Embracing the Landscape.” The monograph focuses on how the residential work of Lake|Flato Architects adapts to the site-specific conditions of brushlands, deserts, hillsides, mountains, cities, and water. The San Antonio-based firm displays a profound understanding of landscape. For instance, cities are viewed as a landscape type — not phenomena independent of nature, but rather a synthesis of nature and culture. Lake|Flato does not misuse or abuse the word “landscape.” In fact, the firm does not “do ‘landscaping’” at all — that is, it doesn’t use natural elements to decorate. Instead, Lake|Flato…

Design Conference: Collections

The 2013 Texas Architects Design Conference — "Collections" —  will consider the way architects create buildings as repositories of aspirations, intellectual capital, families, lives, the arts, and dreams.  Beyond man's basic need for a place of refuge and shelter there is the need to create a physical manifestation of who we are as individuals and as a society. Architects are the ghost writers of those dreams and the caretakers of the collections. Please join us for an exceptional weekend and the opportunity to remember why we selected a life creating the built environment. As part of the 2013 Design Conference,…