Sustainable Homes in the USA

We are proud to be in this fine book and I’m particularly happy that my pictures are getting published all over the place. I’m enjoying photography more and more, as I have been mentioning in this blog. I’m preparing an exhibition… I’ll post about it soon.

Anyway, the focus of the book is sustainability. I encourage you to review the Texas Architect article by Richard Wintersole, AIA:

 Conserving energy is important to Neal, thus the SIPs serve as a thermal umbrella and air is encouraged to circulate through the building from end to end. The Farleys plan to add a large, low-velocity fan to improve the air circulation. When ambient air breezes through the home, the Farleys and their guests are truly in touch with the natural world.”

or by going to the Dwell article by Sarah Rich

In a climate like this, air-conditioning seems indispensable, but to cool the entire structure artificially would be inefficient and costly. Neal devised a solution by building a 540-square-foot box nested within the superstructure, which contains the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, as the only air-conditioned space in the building. The two-story plywood envelope has sliding walls on all sides that can be closed to keep cool temperatures in or left open to the fluctuations of the natural ventilation throughout the building.”

 

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Twin Peaks Explained

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Twin Peaks Project – Two Single Family Urban/Suburban Residences

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.

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:

For Email Marketing you can trust
It’s a cute story!

MJ Neal Architects 

2008 AIA Austin Design Honor Award
and
Tau Sigma Delta Silver Medal

If you can’t read this email please click here
 


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: 

HONOR AWARDS
(The highest award given in this program)

PILATES STUDIO
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.


ball

 

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.

 

Publications 

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

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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