Cool Duplex in Austin, TX…

… or how to get around the McMansion ordinance and its hatred towards much needed duplexes and still have cool design.Notice how the articulation makes the building seem to move and how the shared wall and the front are broken up and shifted to prevent a massive look.

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The House that Will Never be.

(Yet another one) For all those people that think the project on south 5 st, in Bouldin, is ours, no it isn’t! This is the house we had designed and permitted for South 5 St and that was never built.This was actually the second design for this extremely difficult lot. We posted the first design a while ago…

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Twin Peaks Explained

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There seems to be a few questions about Twin Peaks on Apartment Therapy. I guess we can answer them here… Yes, the central piece seems to float off the walls. It’s structure is attached to the wall by brackets. Since the houses are not big, it allows for the eye to travel in between and it creates a much “lighter” feeling.

The finish on the center folding piece is a type of catalyzed polyurethane, it’s like a lacquer, though it is NOT technically a lacquer.

Here’re the pics we have and a wonderful article about the house by Kris Krager, a colleague, who wrote the article for an issue of Texas Architect, when the project won a State Award (TSA) I would link to the article but it’s not online anymore!

Urban/Suburban Hybrid by Chris Krager, Assoc. AIA

PROJECT: Twin Peaks, Austin ARCHITECT: M.J. Neal Architects PROJECT TEAM: M.J. Neal, AIA; Thomas Bercy; Powei Chen; Joseph Winkler; Justin Rumpeltes; Viviane Vives CONSULTANT: Jerry Garcia (Structures) PHOTOGRAPHERS: Viviane Vives; M.J. Neal

Two Austin townhouses defy increasing density and create space on a constrained suburban site.

Like many other American cities, Austin has seen a significant increase in central city development in the past five years. The realization that Austin cannot sustain the continued stretching of its urban infrastructure has led to such initiatives as Smart Growth and Traditional Neighborhood Development. These initiatives have led to relatively low-risk residential development guided primarily by builders erecting traditional housing or “soft-loft” projects priced at the top end of the market.

However, instead of relying solely on the high-end of the economic spectrum, cities such as Austin have the opportunity to deal with – economically, architecturally, and socially – the urban phenomenon of centripetal growth with innovative residential typologies. Moreover, placing suburban houses in quasi-urban environments is essentially irresponsible and results in a lost opportunity for more creative solutions.

With his Twin Peaks project, M.J. Neal, AIA, set out to challenge the unimaginative builder model with a “urban/suburban hybrid.” The problems he faced are neither unique to Austin nor without historical precedent (think of Arabian courtyard houses and urban townhouses): How to design stand-alone single-family residences with the amenities of the suburban home within neighborhoods of increased density, and how to provide residents a comfortable level of isolation on a constrained site while allowing controlled engagement with the public realm?

To successfully address these issues, a building must become an exercise in spatial economy. This Neal accomplished in Twin Peaks with choreographed movement around articulated service masses. The two buildings are essentially vertical tubes with which Neal has taken an additive/subtractive approach. Additive is service function (the central stair/storage element) and subtractive are the moments of respite (screened porches and decks). Surprisingly, while these are not large buildings (1,600 sf of air-conditioned space and 1,000 sf of exterior space), they accommodate much more than one would expect.

Neal assembled this new typology with innovative technologies – SIPS panels, steel/mdf cabinets, catalyzed polyurethane finishes, high-velocity HVAC system, and boat-building plywood, to name a few – and off-the-shelf materials that he customized to varying degrees. Continue reading

Apartment Therapy Tours Twin Peaks

It must be Twin Peaks month:-) 

Good Life Magazine and now Apartment Therapy

A house tour by Adrienne Breaux. Fantastic article and she took a bunch of pictures, there’s a pretty comprehensive slideshow.

Table designed by MJ Neal, AIA
Table designed by MJ Neal, AIA, Photo by Adrienne Breaux for Apartment Therapy

Wow, it’s SO great to see a good picture of that table. MJ can design furniture like nobody’s business. I keep wishing we had the time to start that line of furniture that’s waiting in the side lines:-). All in due time, I guess!

AT is a great site and it’s just wonderful to see the house posted there but it’s even more wonderful to see Kim and Paul enjoy and appreciate the house. We worked so hard on those houses, all of us, for over two years. We fended so much criticism, I have pages of emails of neighbors either loving them or hating them, there sure was no middle place, until… they came inside, most people fell in love with the places during the open houses, attracted by the sustainability, the light, the warmth of the materials and color, and our own love, I guess, it must’ve come through somehow… So, when Kim and Paul seem so happy there, it actually means something to us, I’m not just saying  this, we really worked so much in these homes that they are literally a part of us. Kim and Paul’s was the first in Bouldin, too… buf, I’m getting teary eyed… bleagh.

Good Life on Twin Peaks and a Little Porn

Amy Lemen wrote a wonderful article in this month’s issue of The Good Life Magazine.

Download the article’s pdf HERE.

And this reminds me of the .Inc article on the “other twin”, just to balance matters. That’s a pretty wonderful article too. 

 

 

 

 

 

If you happen to read these two articles you’ll get a pretty good idea of what’s like to live in the houses that come out of the studio.

And… if you happen to be wondering what it’s like to work with an architect, us for example, I’d recommend you read these two articles:

A Little Porn

And the sweet account from years ago, when I met MJ and he was working on Ron and Gina’s Lake house.

It makes me think of how much I’ve learned in these thirteen years, I’m grateful and lucky to be able to do what we do.  We create beauty for a living, what else can you ask for?

Posted by Viviane

Lost Images

I was poking around old files and found these (I had never even seen them before) They are an old incarnation of a house that will never be, but I thought I put them here. We can’t post what we are working on right this minute, because it’s a couple of competitions and we can’t make the work public until there’s a winner… But if you happen to come by the office, you can sneak a peek:-)

Anyway, I hope MJ is cool with my posting these here. If not well, I’ll delete the entry:-) I like this house a lot and just in case you were wondering if you can build amazing houses on steep sites, yes you can… say no to huge retaining walls!!!!

06 peeking at us

We are grateful for the year peeking at us with a kind eye.

1. New Featured Project, Szeto/Shum Residence renderings at mjneal.com
2. New Curra’s Restaurant starts construction
3. Challenging Remodel in Rollingwood
4. Steep-site Remodel in Balcones Drive
5. University of Texas Arlington Revisited
6. Exhibition in Mexico
7. Books and Magazines: Japan, Mexico and Bulgaria publish work by M. J. Neal, AIA
8. Sponsorship. M.J. Neal Architects and Barcelona Films support Sri Atmananda Memorial School


1. Check the “Featured Project” on our website for the new renderings for the Szeto/Shum Residence! This project is nearing its final construction documents phase and is on an “lean and mean” budget.

mjneal.com


2. Curra’s North has started construction.
We are pleased to announce that the new Curra’s Restaurant – North, designed by M. J. Neal, has started construction. The new Curra’s will feature perforated plywood, a big ass fan and polished concrete floors. We are very excited about a new system for finishing concrete floors. They look incredible and you never have to redo them again!

Curra’s new location is at Parmer and McNeill in Austin. If you’ve never tried their delicious interior Mexican food, well, most likely, you just moved to Austin!

curra’s


3. Remodel project in Rollingwood, a complete remodel and addition of a house with dramatic views of downtown. Bringing it up to date, adapting it to the needs of the new owners, and connecting the house back to the land makes this a challenging and exciting project.


4. Another remodel of a 50’s house, this one on Balcones Dr, that presents interesting opportunities as we are dealing with a steep site, an old house, and a landscape that has gone back to a semi-wild state. Volume will be added to the house to create a library and a new master bedroom. All the other rooms will be opened up to the new private, and semi-private, gardens that will be created by taking advantage of the overgrowth.


5. M. J. Neal, AIA returns to the University of Texas, Arlington to teach a graduate design studio. There may be more news on the universities front, come next winter… check back for updates. In December, M. J. was invited to the University of Texas, Austin, to UTA, and to Texas Tech for final student critiques. He was also one of the jurors for the 2005 AIA, Lubbock awards.

UTA


6. M. J. Neal, AIA invited to the Third International Exhibition of Contemporary Interior Design – Bienal Mexico
M. J. Neal, AIA has been invited to exhibit boards of the Ramp House residence and the Anthony Nak flagship store at this prestigious exhibition in Mexico city and other cities, as a traveling exhibition. The Ramp House previously won the Miami Bienal 2003 Silver Medal for Interior Design, the Texas Society of Architects Honor Design Award and the AIA, Austin Citation of Honor Award. Anthony Nak was the IIDA 2005 winner, a TSA Honor Design Award, an AIA, Austin Citation of Honor Award and the Store Concept of the year by Couture International, Jeweler. (This last award was presented to store owners Anthony Camargo and David Nakard)

The Third International Exhibition of Contemporary Interior Design will open on April 2006 at the Claustro Betlemitas, Mexico, DF, the leading museum of contemporary design in Mexico City. This event is organized by the IIDA México City Chapter, Plazola Editores and the Colegio de Arquitectos, Ciudad de México.

The first and second events had more than 33,000 visitors in Mexico City during 5 weeks, with the principal works of architects, interior designers and industrial designers from all over the world (Mexico, USA, Spain, Ireland, Brasil, Corea, South Africa, Canada, Germany, etc). Some other firms exhibiting this year are Karim Rashid, Jorge Penzi, Legorreta Legorreta, KMD, and Cini Boeri.

muestra

7. More international publishing for M. J. Neal, AIA. Last year was an intense one of publications for our work, and the beginning of 2006 seems equally poised.

Upcoming Magazines and Books:

SPA-DE, Space-Design,is a newly established Japanese magazine for interior architecture and design focusing on commercial and office spaces. SPA-DE presents an international selection of distinctive restaurants, bars, cafés, boutiques, shops, hotels, beauty salons, museums, as well as shopping centers, space installations, display design, furniture design, etc. by the world’s hottest designers and architects. M. J. Neal’s Anthony Nak Flagship Jewelry Store will appear in the fifth issue, which will be published both in Japanese and English in the Spring.

Ambientes, by Editorial Expansion is one of the leading interior design Magazines in Mexico. The anthony Nak store will be featured on the February-March issue.

ambientes

The Home Today and Tomorrow magazine – a Bulgarian print venue for furniture, interiors, design, and new trends has requested the Edmonds residence.

the home

Libro de la Exposicion de la Tercera Muestra Internacional de Interiorismo. A book with a selection of the works exhibited in Mexico (see number 6) will be published by Plazola Editores, S.A. in 2006.

8. Sri Atmananda Memorial School

Many of you know that our son attends Sri Atmananda Memorial school. After much thought, we decided to pull him out of the traditional schooling environment, that most of us went through, and try the KPM Institute approach to Children. SAMS is a non-sectarian, private school where every child is unconditionally valued and acknowledged. The teacher-student relationship is at the center of the approach with a ratio of 4:1. I’ve never seen so many children and so many teachers having so much fun, every single, blessedly full, day.

Sri Atmananda School is a daily source of inspiration, hope, and just plain happiness for the three of us; it has brought to our family profound positive changes. To us, this way of schooling is critical to self-discovery, by supporting honesty and clarity in learning and in life.

M.J. and I strive to contribute to a honorable way of life, not only with our architecture and film work, but through big and small daily actions; we try our best to breathe life into our core principles as we endeavor to create a milieu of freedom, honesty, and love.

If you are curious about this education approach, and the school, attend their open houses, Child Worl Workshops,and coffee sessions. And see these websites:

Sri Atmananda Memorial School (SAMS for short!)
kpm approach to children