AIA, Austin Honor Award and Silver Medal!

2008 is rocking for us… I’m posting this way late, but after sending around the newsletter with the big news, I keep forgetting to put it on the blog, finally I get to it! Et voila ici:

MJ Neal, AIA wins Another Design Honor Award… and a Silver Medal as it was distributed on our newsletter, if you want to receive it, go here:

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MJ Neal Architects 

2008 AIA Austin Design Honor Award
Tau Sigma Delta Silver Medal

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vivi is crazy

Photo: Viviane Vives


Highest Honor (in town), again!



We are pleased to announce that, as we did in 2007, we just won the 2008 Design Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects, Austin.

It was published on yesterday’s press release:

“AIA Austin is pleased to announce the results of the 2008 Design Awards Competition. The AIA Austin design competition seeks to recognize outstanding architectural projects by members and to promote public interest in architectural excellence. The jury met on April 4, 2008 at the Chapter office and reviewed sixty-eight entries from local firms and made the following selections: 

(The highest award given in this program)

M.J. Neal Architects


And it goes on to list the other Honor Award (the fabulous Concrete Studio by Mell Lawrence, a must see) 3 Citation awards and only 2 Merit Awards… This year there were only 7 awards in total!

The project awarded was the Pilates Studio

Ann Arnoult was the client, and Living Art, John Bowyer and Michael Kalish’s outfit, was the builder. They deserve every credit and kudos for making this project a reality.

MJ and I were stunned, this is such a tiny project (at only $40 per sq ft.) and it was competing against such heavy hitters, that we didn’t have many high hopes…

So, at the Saturday Gala, when the Merit and the Citations came and went, and the beautiful Concrete Studio by Mell Lawrence came in as the Honor Award winner, we were almost getting up to go, a bit dissapointed but happy to have seen some good architecture and greeted some colleagues and friends…

Then, on the screen, it appeared: “Pilates Studio.” by… M.J. Neal Architects. I looked at MJ in disbelief, “that would be us!” He had a funny look on his face as he buttoned his jacket in a hurry…

What a jury, Julie Eizenberg, AIA; David Baker, FAIA, Randy Brown, FAIA … they had the nicest things to say about the work, rigorous, sensual, creative… wow, I still can’t believe it, and the last award of the night, how about them apples, eh?

This award is not connected to the AIA National Institute Honor award for the Anthony Nak Project that we will pick up in Boston May 15.



Photo: Viviane Vives

Silver Medal
viviane vives

MJ has been awarded the 2008 Silver Medal for significant contribution to architectural design from the Upsilon chapter of Tau Sigma Delta at Texas Tech University’s College of Architecture

He was very surprised and happy, we traveled to Lubbock so they could give the thing to him and so he could lecture them in exchange (not so sure about this barter here now, huh?)

OK, really, it was fun, MJ is a TTech alumnus and the students that hosted us (Adam Reed and Amber Howard) were intelligent, gracious and fun; we honestly had a great time with them and they took us to great restaurants!

Read more here.



vvivesWe also have a flurry of publications to share with you,

Farley Studio will be published by Links Books, Sustainable Houses in the USA, 240 pages of full colour, hard cover and worldwide distribution.

Pilates Studio
will be published by Spa-De 9 issue The book will be published in early
May both in Japanese and English.

Anthony Nak will appear in Architectural Record


Slow Home published Twin Peaks, Ramp House, and Farley and our profile

– Our Dun Laoghaire competition project submission to be exhibited in the Architecture Gallery of the RIAI in 2008

– We prepared nine boards and two physical models for the Estonian Academy of Arts Competition

– Publicatios in Serbia and Syria and other national magazines will be coming up as well, details on the next newsletter! project submission to be exhibited in the Architecture Gallery of the RIAI in 2008

I wanted to close with a couple worthy causes, our son Kilean participated in this video to help raise money for the Children’s Shelter. Gary Walker of TX-FX heads this remarkable effort every year! 

kilean by vv

Also, let’s talk about CO2, Offset Your Emissions. Do you know how to evaluate your average carbon emissions?

Again, we’re always grateful for all your support over the years. Come by and visit our studio in Hyde Park anytime. We’d love to see you and help you with residential and commercial architecture, interiors architecture, and furniture design.

For more frequent updates don’t forget to visit our blog!
(Hint, it’s moved and it has a new look!)

Our last newsletter is archived here, it’s packed with news, so take a look if you didn’t receive it!

We limit our newsletters to a minimum (four or five a YEAR,) so no worries about us cluttering your inbox.

Still, if you want to unsubscribe, use the safe unsubscribe link below and poof! You can also update your information with the Update Email Address

All my best,

Viviane Vives

vivi is crazy



Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007)

The thing I love most about Ettore Sottsass is his beautiful, poignant, often ironic writing. The following was in The Reader (a compilation of architecture writings from news papers around the world) put out by Abitare.  The writing was originally published in Terrazzo, n. 12


Those who build a house will also be building an inner void.

People, I mean the infinte, diverse, ancient and new people, fill the empty spaces of their houses, and their workshops, with whatever they think may somehow count as protection, precisely, against the unknown.

There are also the protections of so-called “culture”, the protections of rooms full of books or maybe full of “works of art”. “Culture is the most detached, the subtlest protection, the protection that seems to exist beyond the protection itself; “culture” is imagined as a total way out, as the place nearest the truth, as the place that protects more than all the other places, as the place that rubs out all daily sins, as the place farthest from the storms and the becalmed seas, farthest from the unkown, from frailty, farthest from the dreams of guilt, from syphilis and impotence, as the place ever blessed by sperm, as the final place never disclosed by moans.

Ettore Sottssas

Point Zero

Dr. Ami Ran chats with Tzadik and Elie Eliakim 

I’ve excerpted the following from a conversation with the architects in Architecture of Israel Quarterly #60

(The bold and italics are added by me. Enjoy.)

Tzadik and Elie Eliakim – If youre hinting that the building stands out for its modesty, we accept that as a compliment. Today architects are making every effort to convey uniqueness in order to position their individual world-views at the core of their creations. However, when dealing with a structure that must meet particular needs, one must simply deposit ones ego. Though were as up-to-date as we would like to be, we make every effort to avoid producing a “branded” architecture. In order to do so, we are committed to starting every project from point zero, without recycling ready-made solutions, especially such that might vanish once the “attractive” buildings are out of fashion.

Dr. Ami Ran – Im still having trouble grasping how this illustrates a process that begins at point zero? Do you avoid conveying accumulated knowledge from project to project?

Tzadik and Elie Eliakim – Were referring to our personal interpretation of Adolph Loos concept of architecture reduced to zero. According to him, the encounter between the programme and the context is abstract and has no tangible form. That is, ideas have no specific physical configuration.