Dallas Architecture Blog discusses Modern architecture and Mid Century Modern
Homes, Dallas Neighborhoods, Dallas Real Estate and the Aesthetics of the City.

Why Are Early 20th Century Homes More Modern Than 21st Century Builder Modern Homes?

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Swiss Avenue Historic Homes Embrace Tenets of Modernism

Modern Swiss Avenue Home

Modern Swiss Avenue home.

Homes Built in Munger Place in 1905 Were Streamlined, Straight-Lined, Forward Thinking Modern Homes

Soon after high Victorian-style homes were built in1903 on Swiss Avenue in the Wilson Block, architects in Dallas began designing the original modern homes in Dallas in 1905.  Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, these streamlined and straight-lined modern homes were built in the architecturally deed restricted Munger Place planned development, then considered the finest residence park in the entire Southland.

For 50 Years the Historic Homes on Swiss Avenue Were Considered Among the Finest Modern Homes in Dallas

It may seem incongruous to say that the historic homes in Munger Place were the first and finest modern homes in Dallas.  It was not until the 1950s that midcentury modern homes became the coolest modern homes.

Interest in modern homes seems to peak every 50 years or so.  The first fascination with modern homes came in the early 20th century.  Then 50 years later came the midcentury modern movement and, again, now at the beginning of the 21st century, modern homes are more popular than ever.

By 1905 Wealthy Dallas Buyers Were Tired of Fussy, Overwrought Victorian Homes

Ornate Queen Anne Victorian home located in the historic Wilson Block of Victorian buildings.

Ornate Queen Anne Victorian home located in the historic Wilson Block of Victorian buildings.

Munger Place modern homes replacing Victorian style homes were a breath of fresh air.  The small ornate rooms with vertical spaces, vertical volumes and intricate embellishments found in Victorian homes were replaced with the broad strokes of the wide horizontal lines of houses with open floor plans and oversized windows.
At the turn of the century, prosperous buyers were tired of the over-decorated series of closed-in hierarchical rooms. Instead, they wanted the simple, streamlined horizontal lines of early modern homes.

Wide windows and wide passageways connect spacious rooms with tailored trim in early modern home.

By 1950s Buyers Were Tired of the Ubiquitous Tudor Cottage

The Tudor cottage style was the prevalent preference of developers and homebuyers in the 1920s and 1930s

The Tudor cottage style was the prevalent preference of developers and homebuyers in the 1920s and 1930s.

Fifty years later, in the 1950s, buyers grew tired of the 1930s “gingerbread” Tudor cottages found in neighborhoods like Greenland Hills and Hollywood Heights and went wild over the sleek, modern homes introduced at the midcentury.

Midcentury modern home designed by revered modern architect Max Sandfield on Hollow Way in Mayflower Estates.

Midcentury modern home designed by revered modern architect Max Sandfield on Hollow Way in Mayflower Estates.

By the 21st Century Buyers Tired of McMansions and Sought Modern Homes

A modern home designed in the 21st century by Wernerfield Architects.

A modern home designed in the 21st century by Wernerfield Architects.

Similarly, buyers in the early 21st century had grown tired of the fussiness and formality of the ubiquitous 20th century Tudor, Italianate and traditional builder homes and mansions.  These traditional homes did not respond to their sites and were often dark with few or ill-placed windows.  Modern architecture and design became the solution.  Award-winning architects like Paul Field and Braxton Werner were commissioned to design intelligent and modern homes that relate to the environment for their aesthetically sophisticated clients.  Every generation of buyers and homeowners becomes interested in modern homes.  Builders soon recognized the shortage of modern homes and moved to capitalize on the modern trend.  Builders motivated by inexpensive construction, off the shelf products, and the latest trade show sensations built homes that looked modern, but with a builder aesthetic.  Builder modern homes were less fluid and were overwrought with modern ornamentation.

Fussiness of Many New Builder Modern Homes Have Refreshed My Interest in the Original Munger Place Modern Homes


Modern Swiss Avenue informal living room has wall of bay windows that continues illumination through triple passageways to spacious dining room.

Sullivanesque style frieze is found under eaves of 5017 Swiss Avenue.

Sullivanesque style frieze is found under eaves of 5017 Swiss Avenue.

The original modern homes in Munger Place were clean, simple, honest, modern spaces with a lot of sunlight.  The most modern homes on Swiss Avenue were designed on the street’s first three blocks which were blocks included in the first addition of Munger Place.  These architecturally significant homes were designed by Dallas’ most important architects influenced by their European tours of traditional and modern homes, regional American modern architects and the bold work of each other.  One of the first of these homes was the one built at 5017 Swiss Avenue in 1907, inspired by the design of architects Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Architect C.D. Hill designed this modern home for his family in 1909 on Junius Street in Munger Place.

Architect C.D. Hill designed this modern home for his family in 1909 on Junius Street in Munger Place.

Across the street is a home at 5002 Swiss Avenue designed by Charles Erwin Barglebaugh, who worked with Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago and then joined the architecture firm of Lang & Witchell.

Architect Charles Erwin Barglebaugh, after his work with Frank Lloyd Wright, designed this home on Swiss Avenue for architects Lang & Witchell, expressing the modern Prairie Style.

Here you can see very modern elements on the inside and outside of the home.

Open floor plan of Prairie Style modern home on Swiss Avenue, designed by Lang & Witchell with stairs pushed to side.

Early 20th Century Modern Homes Pushed Center Stairways to Side of House

In these early 20th century homes on Swiss Avenue, often the classic center stairs were pushed to the side of the home.  You can see that at 5017 Swiss.  Because the stairs were placed to the side of the home, open space was preserved and pushed throughout the home without visual obstacles.

Early 20th century modern design eliminates center stairs.

Open entrance room connects to dining room and living room.

The flow of the open entrance, formal and informal living rooms were accentuated by extremely wide passageways and open pocket doors. The wraparound porches provide ingress and egress from different rooms, allowing the porch to extend the flow and living space of the home.

Porch wrapping around Swiss Avenue home extends the interior of the home to the boulevard and street of architect-designed homes.

Munger Place Homes Express Tenets of Modernism

Even though they are more than 100 years old, Munger Place modern homes express the current and time honored tenets of Modernism.  The design is cognizant of the environment.  The homes yield to the rhythm of the street and continuity of the architecture.  The design is honest and the artisanship of the structure apparent.
These modern homes were built on a southeast/northwest grid that allows each corner of every home to receive direct sunlight over the course of the day.  The homes were sited on lots elevated above the street.  In the case of 5017 Swiss, the wide wraparound porch captures the cool breezes out of the southeast.

Deep eaves are an important element of early modern homes.

Deep eaves are an important element of early modern homes.

The deep eaves were designed to shield the home from the harsh direct overhead summer sun, but allow the sun to stream in when the sun is low on the horizon in the winter.  The open rooms and large windows were designed to allow ample cross ventilation before central air and heat were available.  The tall ceilings allowed the heat to rise in a room, making the rest of the room cool.  There was an honesty to the artisanship and the design of the details, from the double-hung, multi-light windows to the cleanly crafted design of the fireplace mantels.  Livable modern spaces allow people to move easily from one room to another and on to the sunrooms and exterior porches.  The clean lined grace of these open floor plans replaced the hierarchy of Victorian rooms that were designed for very specific purposes.

Informal and Formal Rooms Flow Into Each Other in Early Modern Homes


Front windows and front porch of Swiss Avenue home connect estate property setting with entrance room and living room.

Modern Homes Allow Sunlight

Often it appears as if modern homes were designed around the windows and in contrast, traditional homes had windows placed after the home was designed.  The early 20th century modern homes had an emphasis on windows for many reasons.  These large glass openings provided copious amounts of natural light when artificial light was still in its infancy.  Another key reason was to provide fresh air.  In the summer when the night air was cool, the windows would be opened and during the day the windows were closed to keep in the cool air.
The windows in these minimally adorned homes created views of gardens and trees, enhancing the appeal of the interior spaces.

Deed Restrictions Protected the Views

Expansive front lawns of Swiss Avenue Homes.

Deed restrictions pertaining to heights, fences and setbacks protected the views from every home, so no house could overpower the site or have improvements that would diminish the sightlines of the neighboring homes.

Oversized Double-Hung Windows Opened the Home to the Outside


Double-hung windows bring in sunlight and fresh air.

Oversized double-hung windows can be opened to capture cool breezes inside the home.  Even when the windows are closed, they connect residents inside the house to the exterior.

From the Front Door One Can See the Majority of the First Floor

Living room with very large windows opens to spacious informal living room.

Visually the modern home at 5017 Swiss Avenue opens up when one walks through the front door.  Four large rooms surrounded by windows are seen from the front door with the rear stairs and kitchen in the background.  The interior space clearly defines this home as a modern home. The interior space, with its open floor plan and clear sight lines, clearly defines this home as a modern home.

Stand in a Room and Look Outside in Four Directions


From the front door of the Munger Place modern home, one can see through open entrance room to both living rooms on the right and to the dining room, with rear stairs in background.

My favorite homes are ones that allow me to stand in many rooms of the house and see natural light from the outside in four directions.  Looking directly outside or through rooms to see sunlight accentuates the connection to the environment. Even classically designed homes influenced by modern architects create spaces that connect to the outdoors in meaningful ways.

Modern Homes Have Rooms With Multiple Purposes


Modern Swiss Avenue home dining room opening to rest of house.

The more modern a home, the more flexible the spaces become.  The more traditional a home, the stricter the purpose of the rooms becomes.  How many times have we seen expensive builder homes where the dining room does not feel appealing and looks like it is used begrudgingly once or twice a year?  Or a living room that is formal and overstuffed, but uninviting and seldom used?  The dining room at 5017 Swiss Avenue is in the middle of the home, to connect visually with several open rooms in three directions.  It is an inviting room for a dinner, breakfast, sitting down or a reception or a party.  The formal and informal living rooms are almost interchangeable in their purpose and desirability.
Depending on your needs, desires and how you live in a home, the entry room, living room or informal living rooms can function as open art galleries or intimate spaces.  An open floor plan allows the space to function as a whole or as more separate spaces.

Front Porches Are a Modern Expression

Front porches express the modern idea of connecting interior and exterior spaces fluidly.  Front porches expand the living space of a home without expanding the environmental footprint of heating and cooling this additional space.  Front porches also invite interaction with one’s neighbors and the community.  They generate a sense of vitality and human connection that inward looking homes reject and repel.  The modern elegance of the homes is enhanced as they harmoniously maintain the architectural rhythm of the street.

Front porch of Swiss Avenue home overlooks front lawns of estate homes on boulevard.

Are Builder Modern Homes the New Victorians?

Modern builder homes with loads of tricky ornamentation remind me of Victorian homes. Builders often design modern homes with self-conscious modern embellishments to bring attention to the homes and their modernity.  Their tricky ornamentation might include exaggerated modern sconces, light fixtures, railings, hardware, tile, and technological features.  They become caricatures of modern homes.  In contrast to many of the best modern homes that yield to their site and are inconspicuous from the street, builder modern homes often flaunt their modernity.  Like Victorian homes, these builder homes have a grand entrance and public space filled with embellishments, decorations and conspicuous features.  The materials are modern but eye-popping rather than subtle and subdued.  After the showy open public space, the importance and style of the room become increasingly inconsequential and closed off.  Often, there is lots of glass with views to nowhere.

Builder Modern Homes Exaggerate Their Modernity

These speculative modern homes are designed to advertise, emphasize and even exaggerate their modernity.  They become arguably as exuberant in style yet closed in, much like the Victorian homes designed in the late 1800s. Early 20th century modern homes embrace their modernity and site.

A Modern Home is Only as Good as Its Site


A Modern Home is Only as Good as Its Site

The planned residence park was designed to create beautiful sites raised from the street, with utilities and services placed in the rear, and in the front uniform setbacks were determined, allowing each home to enjoy the ribbon of green space running down both sides of the street, flanking landscaped boulevard parks.  The architectural continuity of these setbacks, spacing and the height of the Swiss Avenue homes further simplify and amplify the linear flow of the street and the architecture.
As far as the eye can see, the houses harmoniously march down the street in an architectural parade, visually flowing from one wide front porch to the next, creating a neighborhood with an elegant and simple context.  It is only when one stops in front of a specific house when the detail and individual architectural style emerge.  This is in contrast to Victorian homes and some builder modern homes where each homes shouts for attention.

Returning to the Modernity of Munger Place is Refreshing

Early modern homes on Swiss Avenue express the period and simple modernity.

There is a reason Munger Place and Swiss Avenue homeowners love living in their homes.  They express simple modernity with lots of character in a vibrant neighborhood and community.

Architecturally Significant Homes

Architecturally Significant Homes For Sale

Dallas Modern Homes

Categories: Architects and Architecture, Dallas Insights, main_posts

Can a Modern Home Also Be a Good Family Home?

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François Lévy Designed Modern Home As Family Home

Modern Home on 6239 Azalea Lane

This home designed by architect Fraçois Lévy is a great example of a modern home that is also a great family home.

Modern homes and homes with a modern aesthetic are becoming increasingly popular with every generation of home buyer. These modern styles of homes include stark white and glass modern homes, midcentury modern homes, Texas Modern homes, and early 20th century Prairie Style homes.

The question remains: Can a modern home also be a good family home? The modern home at 6239 Azalea Lane answers that question. It has the best elements of the following popular modern styles and is specifically designed for a large family.

Stark White and Glass Modern Home

Architect Richard Meier designed modern home

Architect Richard Meier-designed modern home with staircase surrounded by glass.

The stark white and glass modern home has the most dramatic appeal and often comes to mind first when one thinks of a modern home. People respond to the flood of sunlight, the architectural transparency and lack of visual clutter. One of the best examples in the country of this modern style is the Rachofsky house in Dallas, designed by Richard Meier.

It is elegantly stark, open, precise and the spaces beautifully orchestrated. The copious amount of glass provides the sunshine and light that a family loves, but this one-bedroom 10,000 square foot house, like so many homes of this style, is not perfectly suited for a family.

Modern Home at 6239 Azalea Lane Is Designed For a Family

The modern home at 6239 Azalea Lane is designed specifically for a family, with five bedrooms, several formal and informal living areas and separate guest quarters. This modern home on Azalea in Preston Hollow also shares many of the appealing architectural features of the Rachofsky house.

Family Home in Preston Hollow

Glass enclosed staircase shows modern design of this home.

As an example, just as a protruding glass encased staircase is a central design element of the Rachofsky house, the projected staircase on the front façade surrounded by glass is a defining design element of the Azalea modern home. In the spirit of the open, stark, predominantly glass Rachofsky house, the modern home at 6239 Azalea has floor-to-ceiling walls of windows and doors that allow the sunlight to rake across both the ceilings and maple floors. Also similar to the Richard Meier-designed Rachofsky house in Preston Hollow, the François Lévy-designed home in Preston Hollow has rooms open and organized so in many rooms one can see through the home and view the outdoors in four directions.

Modern home designed by François Lévy

Modern home designed by François Lévy has open floor plan and is filled with natural light.

The dining room is flanked by two walls of steel cased windows that look into the east and west gardens and exude the transparency of the home. The dining room has wide pocket doors that open into the kitchen and a wide cased opening to the living room that adds to the modern plan. The natural stained maple floors have the finish of a museum or gallery.

Midcentury Modern Homes Also Have Great Appeal

Midcentury Modern Home

Midcentury modern home designs today are still popular and appeal to buyers.

Midcentury modern homes keep growing in appeal. The attraction to midcentury modern homes is the clean modern lines, the materials, and artisanship involved in the execution of the design. Architect-designed midcentury homes express an architectural intimacy.

Arch Swank Designed Midcentury Modern Home

Arch Swank designed this home in the 1950s and its design still attracts people with affection for architecture and design.

Good examples of midcentury modern homes are 10306 Crittendon Drive and 5303 Waneta Drive. The home on Crittendon is designed by Arch Swank, and the home on Waneta in Greenway Parks is designed by Hidell and Decker. The efficient floor plans and intricate efficiency of these midcentury homes give them great appeal, but the approximate 2,000 square feet limit their appeal to large families.

Cape Cod Stairs Emphasize Modernity of Home

Cape Cod stairs show architect’s crafted architectural solution.

The modern home at 6239 Azalea captures much of the appeal of a midcentury home. Architect François Lévy, similar to Arch Swank at the Crittendon house, created an open floor plan but defined spaces, in part, by different treatment of the ceilings. Both of these midcentury examples, the Crittendon and Waneta homes, have courtyards as does the modern home on Azalea. These homes also share a combination of materials: stucco, stone or brick and wood trim. Often one also sees in midcentury homes clever and intricate cabinets such as sliding cabinet doors that reveal a stylish bar. In the Azalea home the Cape Cod stairs found in the library that leads to the main stair landing is an example of prudently using space with architecturally crafted solutions. The home at 6239 Azalea carries these elements through its 5,000 square feet, a size that so easily appeals to and accommodates a family.

Texas Modern Homes Have Sustained Their Appeal

David Williams Designed Home

Different beam ceiling treatments define rooms that open up to each other. Beams in living room continue outside to covered veranda.

One of the defining features of Texas Modern homes are their courtyards, terraces, balconies and porches that extend the interior living space outside. This can be seen in early Texas Modern homes like the one designed by David Williams on McFarlin Boulevard in 1933 or in recent homes designed in this style.

Home Designed by Frank Welch, FAIA

Home designed in 2004 by Frank Welch, FAIA, shows Texas Modern wood detail.


Another characteristic of this popular modern style that pulls from the Modernism of Europe and the indigenous pioneer houses of Texas is the concept of adding additional wings and separate structures to the house, creating almost a residential compound for a growing family. Frank Welch, FAIA, with direct ties to O’Neil Ford and the most prominent architect continuing the Texas Modern tradition, beautifully uses the simple application of natural stained woods to add a geometric pattern of warmth.

Preston Hollow Home

Home designed in 2000 incorporates wood to add warmth to this family home.

The home on Azalea Lane on a double lot in Preston Hollow embraces this modern approach that creates very comfortable living spaces for a family while emphasizing the windows and sunlight in this home. Architect François Lévy also uses straight line patterns of wood trim and detail to add warmth and geometric precision.

Modern Homes From the Early 20th Century

Crafted Front Porch Details

Historic homes emphasize detail and craftsmanship.

The earliest modern homes in Dallas were built in Munger Place or on Swiss Avenue. These Progressive homes were drawn from the Prairie School of Frank Lloyd Wright. While many buyers respond to the historic nature and craftsmanship of the Swiss Avenue homes, many are also drawn to the open connecting rooms, oversized windows, and the clean lined craftsmanship of the trim and detail. When I first looked at the home at 6239 Azalea Lane, I became fascinated by how open and how much glass the home has and yet the home had the simple, well crafted woodwork and cabinetry of the early modern homes on Swiss Avenue that were designed for the most important families in Dallas.

Modern Home in Preston Hollow Neighborhood

The home at 6239 Azalea provides great design and also space for the whole family.

The home at 6239 Azalea is influenced by many modern styles from different eras. Its design pulls from these modern architectural traditions that have sustained their aesthetic appeal and their appeal to families who desire, first and foremost, a livable, enjoyable and accommodating space. The home at 6239 Azalea is a great example of a home that is modern and desirable for a family.

Architect Designed Modern Home

A 5,986 square foot Preston Hollow modern home on .73 acres, designed for a family to enjoy.

Categories: Homes For Sale, main_posts, Real Estate Insights

Popular Greenway Parks Surges Again

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Why Greenway Parks Has Become Even More Popular

Residence designed in 1955 by architects Marion Fooshee and James Cheek.

Residence designed in 1955 by architects Marion Fooshee and James Cheek.

For many years I have identified Greenway Parks as the most popular and attractive Dallas neighborhood with young partners of venture capital and hedge fund firms and financially successful vibrant residents.  What has caused this already expensive neighborhood to have another surge in its desirability and demand for its homes?

The Neighborhood West of Inwood Road Has Been Transformed

The demand for Greenway Parks continues as a result of the success of the Greenway Park Conservation District and the thoughtful renovation taking place in the neighborhood. However, the rapid escalation in demand is based in great part on the dramatic change in Shannon Estates, the neighborhood west of Inwood.  Several years ago the area was feared and now it has new and renovated homes selling for more than some of the homes in Greenway Parks.  Once a buyer understands the neighborhood west of Inwood is surging, Greenway Parks seems undervalued. This is the reason many of the home purchases in Greenway Parks are made by Greenway Parks residents who already live in the neighborhood. History has shown that once one has lived in Greenway Parks, it is hard to leave the neighborhood.

Why Douglas Newby Realtors Have Sold the Most Greenway Park Homes Over the Last Six Months

Mediterranean modern home designed by architect Robert Meckfessel. Copyright © Douglas Newby. All Rights Reserved.

One of the reasons I have sold the most homes in Greenway Parks recently is because I have introduced and explained the aesthetic and economic benefits of Greenway Parks to an audience greater than those who already live in the neighborhood or who have friends in Greenway Parks. In the last six months I represented the owners of the architecturally significant Hidell and Decker-designed midcentury modern home that was beautifully renovated by Mil Bodron and Svend Fruit.  During this same period I also represented three buyers who purchased architect designed homes in Greenway Parks.

Clients Understood Greenway Parks is a Great Value and Interested is Stronger Than Ever

My clients quickly agreed with my assessment that Greenway Park is an incredible value for the many attributes of the neighborhood, location, and individual sites of the homes. Over the years I have sold some of the great properties in Greenway Parks, including the home designed by Fooshee and Cheek on the largest lot in Greenway Parks, and the best home designed by prominent architect Robert Meckfessel.  However, I have never seen the interest in Greenway Parks as intense as it is now.

The Real Estate Market is Strong Across Dallas

The real estate market is strong across Dallas and will remain strong for some time.  Greenway Parks has the potential to appreciate even more than many of the other finest neighborhoods of Dallas.

As a Real Estate Agent I Enjoy Providing Insights on Neighborhoods

Renovation design of midcentury modern home by Bodron+Fruit Architects. http://significanthomes.com/home/5303-waneta-drive-dallas-texas/

One of the things I enjoy most as a real estate broker is providing insights on the small, desirable neighborhoods that help buyers understand and feel confident in their purchase of a home in a delightful neighborhood like Greenway Parks. I also understand that it is difficult for a Greenway Parks homeowner to find another neighborhood that embodies the characteristics of Greenway Parks.  How I do this is worthy of a whole other post.  While I am most associated with architecturally significant homes, my passion has always been neighborhoods and thus my affection for Greenway Parks.

Categories: Dallas Neighborhoods, main_posts, Real Estate Insights

Trinity River Toll Road is So 20th Century

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Eliminating Crosstown Expressway Boosted Revitalization and Dallas Development

Thirty-five years ago, Dallas’ city leadership proposed a cross-town expressway that would connect R.L. Thornton Freeway to Central Expressway.  However, the new road would have eliminated parks and devastated neighborhoods. Residents of Old East Dallas fought it, and stopped it.  Instead of the cross-town expressway, Fitzhugh and Collette one-way couplets were returned to two-way residential streets and two lanes of traffic on Munger Boulevard were removed and replaced with a grass and tree-filled median and a boulevard park was created. The expressway was abandoned on a long shot hope that the inner city neighborhoods in Old East Dallas would be revitalized.

Now we know the rest of the story. Since then these Old East Dallas neighborhoods have attracted billions of dollars of investment and FNMA has called this one of the nation’s most successful revitalization projects.

Today we need to apply that lesson to stop the current proposal to build a Trinity River toll road, because the toll road is founded on faulty 20th century ideas. Building this road will foster a segregated, weaker, less vibrant 21st century city dependent on the suburbs to provide people to work downtown.

Trinity Toll Road Fosters Segregated Neighborhoods

Members of Dallas City Council have continued to support a 20th century pattern of concentrating voters in geographic areas and segregating neighborhoods to consolidate their power base. The council did this with redistricting in 1991 and they’re looking to do so now with the toll road, by encouraging segregated neighborhoods to keep their power concentrated instead of dispersed.

Currently, the most vocal city council proponent of the Trinity River toll road is a South Dallas councilperson who indicates she wants to enable her South Dallas constituents to commute to North Dallas for their jobs, rather than have them move to North Dallas — which would dilute her minority power base.

Conversely, a prominent Lake Highlands city council candidate supports the Trinity River toll road because it would make it easier for South Dallas residents to commute to jobs in his district.  When I asked him why he would not want South Dallas residents to move to Lake Highlands, which has an abundance of low- and high-income housing, he explained he did not want to uproot the residents from their South Dallas neighborhood.  In other words, he wants to keep the neighborhoods segregated, too. This sort of thinking is out of touch with the 21st century citizen, who thinks more inclusively.

Geographical Boundaries and Prejudices are Dissolving

The 21st century Dallas citizen is helping the time honored geographical boundaries and prejudices naturally dissolve, making Dallas a more vibrant and healthier city.  For instance, people who grew up in North Dallas are moving to South Dallas, Park Cities residents are moving to Lakewood, East Dallas residents are moving to North Dallas, and many people across the city are moving downtown.

The 21st century concept of Dallas calls for a more fluid city where people can live and play close to where they work, which reduces congestion and traffic bottlenecks.

Driverless Cars Will Allow Existing Roads to be Used Much More Efficiently

If there is any lingering concern that Dallas needs more lanes of roads, we should take comfort in how little of the roads are utilized now.  If you look at how much concrete is occupied by a car when the roads are performing at peak efficiency, it’s very little –92% of the road is empty.

However, roads will not always be so inefficient. Recently at the TED conference in Vancouver, I co-hosted a dinner with Chris Urmson, director of Google driverless car project. Google driverless cars are only five years away from mass production. We talked about the inefficiency of current expressways and how driverless cars will be spaced much more closely, eliminating the need for so many lanes.  They will also disperse traffic more efficiently using the existing roads and eliminating driver errors that compress traffic and cause congestion.  Driverless cars will totally change how cities will be planned, developed, and lived in. In other words, we don’t need to lay more concrete to solve a problem that technology will handle in the near future.

In the 1950s the Car Was King and Roads Revered

It might seem surprising that the Trinity River toll road had come so close to actually becoming a reality.  Then again it is not so surprising when one stops and realizes that the Dallas mayor, the executive director of the Trinity River Commons Foundation, the former city manager, the transportation director of the North Texas Council of Governments, and the president of the Citizens Council were all raised in the 1950s, when the car was king.  They were all educated and trained in the 1970s where more big roads and expressways were considered essential to a city’s economic prosperity.  In the 20th century the only thing Dallas loved more than their cars were roads.  Dallas might be the only city that once had a serious proposal for a road museum.

The Thinking of Many City Administrators and Transportation Directors Has Not Changed in 40 Years

I experienced first-hand how city managers and regional directors think about downtown Dallas and roads while earning my master’s degree in Public Administration at SMU.  My classmates included a future Dallas city manager, a South Dallas congresswoman, assistant city managers, and regional directors, many of whom at the time were interning at city hall or at the Council of Governments.  Our class was assigned a semester project to develop a plan to revitalize downtown Dallas.  It is remarkable how little the thinking of city administrators and politicians has changed since 1976.  This public administration class enthusiastically proposed more toll roads and expressways as the silver bullet to revitalize downtown Dallas and to make it easier for people to live in the suburbs and commute to downtown for jobs.

By contrast, my minority report called instead for a plan to revitalize downtown residential neighborhoods.  It became the foundation of my master’s thesis, a blueprint for the ongoing successful revitalization of Old East Dallas neighborhoods.

Dallas Cannot Concrete Its Way Out of Congestion

Most people know, at least intuitively –and the studies all confirm this — that if you build a road the cars will come.  Dallas cannot concrete its way out of congestion.  Despite old ideas dying hard, Mayor Rawlings should be applauded for recently instigating a new Trinity River road plan in which a group of planners and engineers treated the Trinity River Park as the client.  They proposed a meandering road, giving access to the park, which is a much different concept than a toll road through the park for commuters.  However, until future plans for a toll road are abandoned, the full development of the park with an integrated park road will never happen.

With Trinity Toll Road Gone Trinity Park Will Be Energized

The original call for a Trinity River toll road was not a malicious idea, just a 20th century idea.  Creating the nation’s largest urban park in the center of the city is a 21st century idea.  It embraces the current excitement for a vibrant downtown and a city filled with sunlight and nature. The Trinity River Park and the surrounding area will be much easier to energize and revitalize because it is a blank canvas begging for the creativity and vision of nature lovers and developers.

For a hint of the future one can look at the popularity of the Trinity River Calatrava-designed bridges and the throngs of people flocking to Trinity Groves, which the bridges inspired.

Trinity Toll Road is Out of Date and Out of Fashion

Proponents of the toll road have argued that they do not have sinister intentions and the voters already approved the toll road 13 years ago.  These well-intentioned motives became out of date.  Taste, design, lifestyle, technology and circumstances have created a whole new dynamic in the 21st century.

Now is the time for the mayor and city leaders to embrace a 21st century vision for the city and put a nail in the coffin of the Trinity toll road.  The city council is a smart, generally collegial group that wants what is best for Dallas.  The threat of a toll road undermines the Trinity River Park, divides the city council and disappoints Dallas.

The politicians can always resubmit what they need to the federal and regional entities.  Dallas lobbyists can expedite approval.  In the meantime, Dallas should have the comfort and clarity of knowing the plans for any future toll road in the Trinity River Park have been abandoned.

A City Designed for Success in the 20th Century is Doomed to Failure in the 21st Century

So now we need to ask: Do we want a successful 20th century city or a thriving 21st century city?  As David S. Rose, a successful serial angel investor famously said, “Any company designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure in this 21st century.” I think this is also true for cities.  The Trinity toll road is a 20th century idea that will undermine the success of Dallas in the 21st century.

Now the mayor and city council has the opportunity to unite Dallas, eliminate the threat of a Trinity River toll road, embrace technology and nature, and allow Dallas to become a 21st century city.


Categories: Dallas Insights

How Does One Architect Renovate Another Architect’s Design?

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Modern Home

Steps from rear of modern home to pool and garden.

Norman Ward 2013 Restoration Approach to Bill Booziotis 1978 Designed Home

How an accomplished architect approaches another acclaimed architect’s work has always fascinated me.  Will the current architect encourage their client to tear down the home?  Will they recommend meticulous restoration, remodeling, or even recommend taking an adaptive use approach?

 The Overton Crest House in Fort Worth is Particularly Interesting

Contemporary House

Contemporary house pool and terrace.

Dallas architect Bill Booziotis, an AIA Fellow, designed the Overton Crest architecturally significant home in Overton Park in Forth Worth in 1978.  I first met Bill Booziotis when he was president of the Dallas AIA Chapter and I had founded and chaired the Dallas Restoration House of the Year Award of which Bill Booziotis was a member of the selection committee, representing AIA.  This was a time when preservation and the restoration of homes was just getting started in a big way, with very little precedent or direction on how to approach a period home.  The Restoration Home of the Year selection committee included the president of ASID, a bank president, a magazine editor, the president of Preservation Dallas, and a neighborhood representative.  Every person had a very different definition of restoration, emphasis and approach in mind to fulfill our goal to annually find a home that best represented restoration to live in.

Restoration to Live In

Architecture as Evolution, Not as a Museum

Modern Residence

Library in modern residence

While every member of the committee reflected different design disciplines and interests, the entire committee embraced the concept that a historic, architect-designed home needed to reflect the current needs of the owners. The Restoration House selection committee also understood that design, materials, and taste evolve, but the integrity of the original home should be preserved.  Norman Ward, AIA, embraced these same concepts many years later as he approached his contribution to the Bill Booziotis-designed home.

Architect Norman Ward, With Respect and Reverence, Renovates 1978 Bill Booziotis, FAIA, Modern Home

Renovated Modern Architecture

Renovated modern architecture by Norman Ward, AIA

Norman Ward understands the brilliance of Bill Booziotis, an architect who has designed and continues to design architecturally significant modern homes, museums, art galleries and commercial buildings.  As an architect, Norman Ward understood the impact the entire body of architectural work of Bill Booziotis has had on modern architecture and the community.  Norman Ward also recognized the importance of this iconic modern Overton Crest home in Fort Worth and Overton Park, a neighborhood bounded by the water of the Fort Worth branch and adjoining greenbelt and trail to Fort Worth.  Further, Norman Ward recognized the specific genius of Bill Booziotis as it related to this site and the home he designed on Overton Crest.

Norman Ward Received the Fort Worth Chapter Charles R. Adams Award for Excellence in Design

Contemporary House

Contemporary kitchen opens to modern home.

In 2013 Norman Ward was only the eighth architect in 40 years to receive the Charles Adams Award for Excellence.  His acclaimed body of work and architectural virtuosity made him a wonderful choice to make meaningful modifications to the home designed by Bill Booziotis.

The Site Propelled the Design of Booziotis; The Site Propelled the Renovation Design of Norman Ward

Modern Residence

Texas Modern residence site plan.

This site is on a five-cornered lot with a narrow base that fans out and descends in three directions.  The modern rectangular elements Bill Booziotis designed are arranged as if centrifugal force moved them into position to engage the home and its views overlooking the land.

Modern Home

Stairs from rear terrace leading to Texas Modern home.

Curved porches, terraces and steps reinforce this theme. Exterior and interior oversized soft Mexican brick quickly emphasizes the home’s Texas Modern lineage

Norman Word Preserves the Envelope and Exterior of Modern Home

Norman Ward, as an architect, recognized how well the footprint of the home and its exterior related to the home and should remain.  As a Fort Worth architect, he recognized this was an iconic and much loved home in the Overton Park neighborhood that created context and provided memories in the neighborhood and Fort Worth.

Renovated Modern Residence

Library catwalk in renovated modern residence.

Harder Edged Rectangular Volumes With Softer Surfaces Replace Vaulted Volumes and Harder Spaces

Norman Ward was able to create a 2,500-book library, stair and catwalk where a two-story barrel vaulted volume previously existed.

Modern residence bedroom detail

Modern master bedroom.

While the lines of the interior become more severe, the surfaces become softer.  Cherry wood, sourced from Costa Rica, is used for the floors through much of the home, replacing the original Saltillo tile floors
Arched openings and a curved bay window were replaced with rectangular openings and windows.  While the windows and glazed openings remain, the advancements in technology and glass allow these glassed openings to be pushed further to their edges.  Slotted skylights bring in more natural light.  Norman Ward’s lighting design further illuminates this modern home.

Modern Home

Two story library in renovated modern home.

Modern house

Large windows and skylights fill the modern home with natural light.

Contemporary House

A wall of glass accentuate views of modern home.

 Smooth porcelain creates a sleeker finish for the floors in the bathroom and the kitchen that have white oak cabinetry and Bulthaup appliances.
Modern home interior

Porcelain floor and Bulthaup cabinetry in contemporary kitchen.

Contemporary Home

Modern bathroom in contemporary home.

Architect Creates and Preserves Graceful Tension of Curves and Rectangles

The curvilinear design of the interior was straightened, but several curved elements remain.
Modern Residence

Living area of modern residence.

Architect Norman Ward continued to emphasize the curved elements of this modern home.  You see this in the curved end wall of the living room and continuing to the curved terrace outside the living room.  Curved stairs lead to the swimming pool, and the curved radial theme of the home continues within the master bedroom study, the water feature and outdoor fireplace and entrance terrace.

A Triumph for “Restoration to Live In”

It is a great compliment to architect Bill Booziotis that a nearly 40 year old home remains as relevant to day as when it was designed in the 1970s.  It is a testament that good design survives.  Norman Ward demonstrated that an architect can preserve a period home and make it as dynamic, contemporary and current as a modern home designed today.  To this home Norman Ward added geo-thermal wells, radiant floor heating, a sophisticated lighting control system, high performance windows, and other 21st century appliances and technologies to the existing architecture.

Thank You Norman Ward, AIA

It is always easier for an architect to start with a blank sheet of paper when designing a home than to start with another architect’s work.  Often the best homes are those where the architect has a three-way conversation with his client and the existing structure on the site.  Now in this lovely Fort Worth neighborhood site we have a modern home designed by Bill Booziotis, based in Dallas, and a Norman Ward-designed home.  The combination of these two significant architects makes a profound contribution to architecture.

Contemporary Home

Modern house staircase detail.

See this home on Dallas Modern Homes.
See original photographs of this modern home on Architecturally Significant Homes.

Categories: Architects and Architecture, side_posts

Dallas AIA Tour of Homes Premiere Party Home October 30 Designed by Oglesby Greene

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This modern home was designed by Oglesby Greene Architects and architect Graham Greene.

The Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects makes a brilliant decision by selecting the modern home at 40 Braewood Place as the site of the Premiere Party for the 2014 AIA Dallas Tour of Homes. The Premiere Party will take place on the evening of October 30, preceding the AIA Dallas Tour of Homes that will take place on November 1st and November 2nd from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A very limited number of $100 Premiere tickets are available for purchase to see the Graham Greene architect-designed contemporary home, an amazing home high on a bluff, wrapped in two-story glass that allows nature to become the central design element.

The AIA Premiere Party is Rare Opportunity to See This Oglesby•Greene Designed Home

You will want to see this exquisitely designed, crafted and engineered modern home that Graham Greene and his colleagues at Oglesby·Greene designed. The house will provoke the imagination and admiration of every architecture aficionado and modern home lover. Since this modern residence is in the gated community of Glen Abbey, access to even the outside of the home is very limited. The AIA Premiere ticket will allow you to see the exterior, interior and gardens of this architecturally significant home.

Modern Home Recedes From Street and Then When One Enters the Home It Presents Itself in a Breathtaking Way


Image copyright©Douglas Newby. All Rights Reserved.

As you approach the front door you will immediately feel like you are in the rear garden. Gardens, streams, bluffs, and White Rock Creek appear through the glass doors, windows and glazed openings. In addition, there are views over the negative edge pool to a backdrop of endless nature.

Water running over copper sheathing of negative edge pool.

Image copyright©Douglas Newby.  All Rights Reserved.  Water running over copper sheathing of negative edge pool.

Many patrons of modern home tours often see white walls filled with art and spaces filled with fashionable designer furniture, but at this home on Braewood nature becomes the central design element. There is a transparency to the home that lets nature permeate every space.

Dining room of Oglesby-Greene-designed home.

Image copyright©Douglas Newby. All Rights Reserved. Dining room of Oglesby·Greene-designed home.

Interior Designer Robyn Menter Participates in Selecting Materials, Appliances, Finishes and Fixtures

Robyn Menter, interior designer and president of Robyn Menter Design Associates (RMDA), adeptly put to work her design skills that accentuated the design accomplishment of Oglesy-Greene. The Buxy Beige Limestone for the stone walls and for the running band pattern of the honed stone floor was sourced and selected by Robyn Menter to complement the Douglas Fir.

Robyn Menter design talent seen in kitchen.

Image copyright©Douglas Newby. All Rights Reserved.   Robyn Menter design talent seen in kitchen.

The kitchen is the heart of the home and you will admire the sleekness and warmth of the kitchen with the larch wood cabinets, Sahara Gold granite and stainless steel countertops, and RMDA custom design vent hood, and appliances from Sub Zero to Gaggenau. The interior nuance of this home, from the bathrooms and the kitchens, can be seen in the selection of materials, finishes and fixtures that further propels the architect’s vision of a home that reflects and embraces nature.

YouTube Video of Modern Home was Created to Give AIA Dallas Tour of Homes Patrons a Partial Preview

Whether you are inside the home or on the third floor terrace, you will enjoy the 180° views of nature. At the Premiere Party have a glass of wine and explore the paths through the gardens, by the koi ponds or waterfalls or the overlook above White Rock Creek or along the waterfalls by the negative edge pool. Be sure to go up to the third floor terrace to see a view you did not know existed in Dallas.

Looking back at engineer’s feat of architecture at Oglesby-Greene.

Image copyright©Douglas Newby.  All Rights Reserved.  Looking back at engineer’s feat of architecture at Oglesby·Greene.

Tickets to 2014 AIA Dallas Tour of Homes and AIA Premiere Party

Visit the Dallas Chapter AIA website to purchase an AIA Dallas Tour of Homes Premiere Party ticket that will give you the only opportunity to see the Oglesby·Greene-designed modern home in Glen Abbey.

You may also visit the Dallas Chapter AIA website to purchase the 2014 AIA Dallas Tour of Homes ticket that will allow you to see nine other modern homes that are recently designed and built or extensively renovated by very talented Dallas architects, including Mark Hoesterey, AIA, of Stocker Hoesterey Montenegro Architects; Cliff Welch, AIA; Dan Shipley, FAIA, Todd Hamilton, AIA; Mark Domiteaux, AIA; Susan Appleton, AIA; Maestri Architects.

I look forward to seeing you at the Premiere Party and the 2014 AIA Dallas Tour of Homes, my favorite home tour of the year.

Twilight shot of back of Oglesby Greene-designed home.

Image copyright©Douglas Newby.  All Rights Reserved. Twilight shot of back of Oglesby Greene-designed home.

Categories: Home Tours and Events

Douglas Newby & Associates | 100 Highland Park Village #200, Dallas, TX 75205 | (214) 522-1000