33 Years on the Making: MJ’s Silver Medal and the Bruno house


Slideshow Bruno House from our visit to the Bruno House.

MJ was 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; 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…)

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

If they were sick and tired of hearing MJ reminisce about his drinking, his drinking buddies and his drinking holes during his six years at TTech a million years ago, they didn’t show it. (Jeez baby, no wonder you didn’t have the grades to join the actual Honor Society that gave you the award, but I guess is all better now… except wait, it’s Friday, oh no, Margarita day… gotta go!)

The highlights of the trip besides getting to hang out with Adam and Amber, were meeting with MJ’s old professors (still there, still as sweet!) the White twin brothers, Jim and John, and going to visit the Bruno House! MJ was just excited, tickled pink (yet sober, I swear.) He had been there when Bruno had started the house and 30 years later, he’s still at it!!!!

An absolute must see and a wonderful man and artist whom Wallpaper just published!

Posted by Viviane

Slow Home Posts Slow Ramp

The Slow Home editor, John Brown, has posted a third project of ours, the Ramp House

I really like seeing the Ramp House on the screen, makes me feel nostalgic, though… I just remembered that I have some footage on HD of our last days at the Ramp House, I need to dig it out and make a small video… in all my spare time, right… but it really would be nice, if a bit painful.


From Ramp House

FODA Wins Addy!

FODA STUDIO has put up a segment on the stunning design they did for the Moon Units ad for Tribeza.

Their BIG NEWS, though, is that they WON TWO ADDY AWARDS last night! A gold medal and a Best of Show for direct Marketing and Printing Excellence. Well, we’ve know for years they are the best talent in town and beyond but our little secret is really out now that they are running with the big dogs… They SO deserve it, we’ve been telling ya… Just hoping they don’t get too big for us, now!!!


Farley Studio Entry is in!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Picassa slideshow was working on my Safari browser, but not my Firefox.

We’ve been shooting pics for the Farley Studio and putting them together for a presentation. Pretty intense week and weekend but I’m VERY happy with the pics. I was running around the building like mad at sunset, I think I CAN be in two places at once!

The awesome site plans and exploded axo’s are from fab Jett of fodastudio who is so talented I just want to slap him…

It looks pretty good huh??? I hadn’t been in the finished space and it won my heart. As usual, it felt playful but calming, daring but appropiate, unexpected as always. The good thing about MJ is that he doesn’t stop surprising me, when I think I have him figured out, he goes off in a completely new direction, EVERY SINGLE TIME…

If you don’t believe me, wait until we post the almost finished Pilates Studio and especially the Wolfe Den, which is well underway… I’m green with envy with that project… I want it to be mine!!!

I’m also really getting into the photography part of the studio. I was quite shy at the beginning, but after the success with these, the pilates studio pictures, and a project for another architect using a Hasselblad, I’m starting to get requests to shoot other people’s work too. Bring it on!

What a shot!

The local gas company building in Barcelona by Miralles and Tagliabue. Did you see the bird at the top??? We can sell this pic any day. Way to go MJ! So yes, we have been in Europe for two weeks. Barcelona and then the beach… at Calella de Palafrugell and back to Barcelona. It’s a deal, we’re going back in June/July and we will work from the beach. Why not?

So Much to Tell

so little time! We’re back from a memorable trip to Mexico. MJ and I love Mexico DF and its people. We were treated by Guillermo Plazola and co. with such warmth and gallantry that we didn’t want to come back. The lecture went very well, and after it, MJ and I felt like rock stars, being asked to pose for pictures, give interviews, invites for dinner, huy!!!!

We figured that architecture presentations are so boring and dry as a norm that we would spice it up a bit and I created two little movies, one for each project, that were very well received. It also helped that I spoke Spanish and made them laugh. M.J. had a simultaneous translator that must’ve been good, because no one seemed too bored and we had more questions than anyone at the end of our lecture…

Another highlight of the trip was meeting Neil Denari, yes THE very one and only. The guy’s work is out of this world! It’s great to see that he’s finally getting to build his amazing stuff. VV

Sprinting Spring

I’ve got to be in some accelerated time warp, school is almost over… it’s time for our Spring Newsletter. Can you believe it! At least, my tomatoes are planted… Now they need to grow, so I can make my gazpacho! (gazpacho stuff)

1. An Artist’s Dream. An Artist’s Barn
2. Live Non-toxic. Build Non-toxic
3. Two-Residence Condo Project on Jeff Davies
4. HGTV Ponders What’s with that House – May 10 – 11 PM (E) / 10 PM (C)
5. Another M. J. Neal House on Bouldin About to Start Construction
6. Curra’s Grill About to Open! We Get an Ass or Two
7. Architect Porn by Scott
8. Great Spaces: Home interiors
9. Off to Mexico Lindo
10. Let me Buy You a Cup of Coffee…

1. An Artist’s Dream. An Artist’s Barn.

Kyle Farley of Cleburne, TX is a talented artist and a friend. We met him and his wife, Angela, at our favorite bar in Fort Worth. Over margaritas and the best green salsa known to man and woman, we used to discuss things people discuss on Tuesday nights at dilapidated 60’s hotel bars, during our whole semester teaching at UTA.

Kyle had been dreaming of building a painting studio of his own for a long time, whada’ya know, so he kept picking M. J.’s brain about it and M. J. kept running one of his man fugit scenarios to Kyle; in where he escapes to this studio that exists only in their imagination and watches him paint; holding a cold beer in his hand, his cell phone turned off. A couple or three years later, the moment of truth is here; in full daylight, this time is for real, the foundation has been poured, the steel has been fabbed in Dallas… and Angela and I can stop hearing about it and we get to watch. Inside Kyle’s head: the next collection that he will paint in there very soon. If I lose sight of M. J., I know where to find him… and I better bring some cold ones with me.

An exciting project for an architect, with a very modest budget-under 100,000-this not-so-imaginary studio is a “modern barn.” Only a small “chinese box” at the center is air-conditioned. The cozy living area contrasts with the oversized metal building open to the four winds… and the large rectangular fire pit.

2. Live non-toxic. Build non-toxic.
While we are on the “affordable housing” front, M.J. Neal Architects has started collaboration with George Swanson. Over the years, George has completed over eighty low-toxic, and fully non-toxic “Breathing” natural building projects in eleven states and several foreign countries. The knowledge of this man regarding all aspects of truly sustainable and green building is way too huge to sum up here. I highly recommend that you read his website and attend one of his workshops.

M. J. is helping him with the design of four houses on the East side that are geared to become the experimental grounds for the use of dragon board panels and the mass production of affordable housing for chemically sensitive people. We’ve wanted to work with George for a long time. We’ve also wanted to get more involved with affordable housing options. Now it’s happening and these projects marry two very important issues to us, affordability and green building. Who isn’t fighting poisons and high costs these days?

george’s digs

3. Two-Residence Condo Project on Jeff Davies
Speaking of dream builders (yes, they exist, it just takes a long, long time to find them…:-) we also started work with John Bowyer. He has the name of a French actor and the refinement to go with it… a … French builder… that’s an odd image… ok let’s try again, John was trained as a designer, went into building and we are just psyched to be working with him. He’s into everything we’re into and we are prone to taking wild road trips to the country side of Texas in search of new materials and ideas. More on this to come. Let me tell you this, these houses will never have a single moth in them! If you are in the market for an affordable M. J. Neal house, wait until you see these! And you just can’t find a more careful and thorough builder/developer. The buyers of his latest home drew smileys on their check to him!

4. HGTV ponders What’s with that House – May 10 – episode .. 108
We are on TV again! (Are they still re-running the Fine Living, Breathing Room episode? That bit got more milage than my old Volvo, just yesterday we got an email asking about something they had seen in it!)

HGTV came by to ask What’s With that House? So we told them… It was bitter-sweet for us and I wish that they had given us the footage to keep as a memento, but all they’ll give us is the episode they’ll air… TOMORROW! – May 10, 2006 – Episode .. 108 – 11 PM (Easter and Pacific) / 10 PM (C) Let us know what we said (MJ and I don’t watch TV!), because I was so tired that I barely remember a thing about this shoot… except that they had the new Sony HD-DV camera, that caught my eye;-) (I admit it, I do miss the Ramp House, but I’ll live… especially because the house we moved into has tons and tons of potential and it’s shaded and quiet. It will be a great remodel example to give later on. And for Texans only, can you believe that we haven’t had to turn on the air conditioning, yet? It has that many trees! )


5. Another M. J. Neal House on Bouldin About to Start Construction
Speaking of the red one, the project next door is about to start construction by Blue Horse. We call it the Wolf Den for the big bad wolf… (Just joking, Alex, we love you!)

Features in this house that we especially like are: the extension of the living area onto an exterior space complete with outdoor fireplace and lap pool, a storage system that runs the length of the east side of the house on both levels, and the sliding aluminum lattice doors shading the west sun as desired. The projects on Bouldin seem to be coming at us at rapid speeds, we’ll keep you posted as they develop.

6. Curra’s Grill About to Open! We Get an Ass or Two
The new Curra’s Restaurant – North, designed by M. J. Neal, will open the beginning of June. The new Curra’s will feature perforated plywood, a big ass fan and polished concrete floors. Curra’s new location is at Parmer and McNeill in Austin.

The big ass fan company sent us their new catalogues and two cute asses to put on our desks. They are the squeezy kind.

big ass fans


(By the way there’s another VERY exciting restaurant project in the works. Shhh… Stay tuned, can’t talk about it yet!)

7. Architect Porn by Scott
Did you follow the drama on Miesandcarrots? If you didn’t, see below and have at it. The link will take you to a house that never was, unless you buy the site and let us renovate it:-) If you read the posts chronologically, you can follow the process of a modernist choosing his architect. The whole site is great, really, lot’s to explore besides M. J.’s stuff.


8. Great Spaces: Home interiors

The Great Spaces: Home Interiors book is out! Both MJ and I were very impressed with the quality of the work in the book. We are honored to be in it!

great spaces

9. Off to Mexico Lindo
As you know, if you read the last Newsletter in January, M. J. has been invited to exhibit and lecture at the Third International Exhibition of Contemporary Interior Design that will open on May 18th 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.

M. J. Neal, will 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)

Soooo… we’re off to Mexico for a few days (May 18-21) We’ll only go missing from the office for Thursday the 17th and Friday 18th, but we may decide to ride off into the sunset…. just kidding.


10. Let me Buy You a Cup of Coffee…
We’ve been fortunate to win many awards here at M. J. Neal Architects. Awards are great, for sure, but the sense of achievement and success that comes from “winning” is an illusion. “Ok, so I won, now what? What changed, really?” The actual “work” is where it’s at! The recognition and wins are just a nod that you are going in the right direction. You stop for a moment to celebrate, get happy, and then you keep at it exactly the same way you were going to begin with…

So healthy competition in games, art, etc, can be lots of fun and a terrific stimulus, no doubt, but when I look at it from an educational perspective, I can’t help but think, are we buying a bit much into this? Do we need to base the bulk of the education of our children on how they “do” compared to others?

The sense of personal achievement for work that you’ve given it all to, doesn’t need to be measured; actually, it can’t be, because it’s unique to the individual. Wanting to excel and learn is innate to humans and part of a personal process that can’t truly be measured against others. Putting too much stake into competition, in my opinion, is a flag indicating a reaction to the fear that we may not be good enough, coupled with a mind-frame of “scarcity” where there’s not enough to go around for everyone. To me, our nature is abundant, balanced, and nurturing so one might say that this fear is also just an illusion…

If you are interested in educational topics, come to the Thursday coffees at the mansion at Sri Atmananda. The Open Doors Coffee introduces the KPM Institute, the KPM Approach to Children and Sri Atmananda Memorial School. If you are planning to come to a coffee, please RSVP to Suzanne Pitman, KPM Institute Executive Secretary, suzannepitman@kpminstitute.org, 512-467-2820 or 512-689-6109.

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<a href=”http://kpmapproach.org/index.php?/pages/1&#8243;kpm approach

Ok, let’s go for a swim or something…