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

Future Owner of Crespi Hicks Estate

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Andy Beal Purchases Crespi Estate

Architect Peter Marino was responsible for the renovation design and the space added to the Maurice Fatio-designed Crespi Estate such as this morning room overlooking the creek and foot bridge.

Architect Peter Marino was responsible for the renovation design and the space added to the Maurice Fatio-designed Crespi Estate such as this morning room overlooking the creek and foot bridge.

Andy Beal’s purchase of the Crespi Estate is a great compliment to Dallas. Most cities do not have buyers who have the resources or taste to buy such a fine estate home. Dallas has several buyers who had an interest and a few that I worked with who made offers. As I discussed with Tom Hicks over two years ago, Andy Beal was the most logical buyer for his home. While other buyers interested in the Crespi Hicks Estate, some of whom made offers, did not need a home and were not looking for a home, Andy Beal was an active buyer looking at and making offers on Highland Park homes. With resources of several billion dollars, he was also a buyer who could enhance this estate home by further developing the gardens and making additional improvements.

The one hold up as I explained to Tom Hicks at the end of 2014 was that while Andy Beal was interested in the Crespi Estate, he was committed to finding a home in Highland Park for the security, the schools and all the reasons people love Highland Park. Nevertheless, I was confident that if none of the owners of the large estate properties in Highland Park who Andy Beal was targeting did not agree to his offers, he would move forward on the Crespi Hicks Estate because of its many merits that would offset not being in Highland Park. The Crespi Hicks Estate has the elaborate security around the property and the Secret Service on one border, protecting the president, making the Crespi Hicks Estate one of the most secure estate properties in Preston Hollow. Also, the design of the home would be a draw. A CNN producer originally from Russia, who I worked with on a video she shot and produced of the Crespi Hicks Estate, beautifully expressed to me the affection Middle Europeans have for the classic and opulent design of the Crespi/Hicks Estate.

Private Air is a good example of national and international publications I worked with to bring attention to Dallas and the Crespi Hicks Estate.

Private Air is a good example of national and international publications I worked with to bring attention to Dallas and the Crespi Hicks Estate.

A Splendid Consolation House

After offers on other Highland Park estate properties and, most recently, offers on 4500 Preston Road were rejected by the Crow family, Andy Beal proceeded to buy the Crespi Estate.

Even though the Crespi Estate is in Preston Hollow and not Highland Park, the property will be a good purchase for Andy Beal. After negotiating a favorable price, the Crespi Estate will cost much less than if he were constructing a new home on one of the estate properties in Highland Park. This is attractive to a value investor like Andy Beal.

Baton Will Be Passed to Someone Who Can Comfortably Afford Home

I am pleased that after all their inspired work on the house, Tom and Cinda Hicks will be able to pass the baton to a family who will be able to enjoy and comfortably afford a house of this magnitude. It speaks volumes that we have those in Dallas who can and will continue to preserve an architecturally significant home of the importance of the Crespi Estate.


The Crespi Hicks video is the initial marketing piece I created for the Crespi Estate. It now has over three million views, more than any other estate home video in the country.

See Renovated Crespi Estate – The Finest Estate Home in America, The Crespi/Hicks Estate

See Article in Private Air on Crespi Hicks Estate

Categories: Real Estate Insights, Uncategorized

The Characteristics of Homes People Love

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Is the Pursuit of Happiness Forgotten in the Pursuit of the American Dream?

Architect Graham Greene designed this modern home where the materials reflect the surrounding natural environment and nature penetrates the home through large glazed openings.

We have all been taught that owning a home is the American dream. We know that the purchase of a home is one of life’s most significant decisions and one’s most significant design decision. (Well, maybe you have just heard that from me.) We all know America and its culture are founded on the pursuit of happiness. And yet when most people buy a home, they put happiness on the back burner which robs them of the rich experience of living in a home that makes them happy every day. They do not treat the purchase of a home as their most meaningful design decision. Is it surprising then that so few people really love their home and love living in it? However, people who love their homes passionately usually approached the purchase differently than those who don’t.

Homeowner Makes Inspired Comments

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This Don Chapell-designed Sarasota Modern home of voluminous space, balconies, delightful views and Texas art charms the homeowners and visitors alike.

As an example, I asked a friend to share his thoughts on this. He and his wife love their home and he had this to say:

“I think that we most strongly feel the presence of our house when we are sitting in our library at the end of the day to read, relax, and reflect. I can look through the opening in the library wall and into the living room and then through the glass window in the living room wall to see my neighbor’s tall crepe myrtles, frequently swaying in the wind.  When I leave the library, I walk along the upper gallery that gives me the opportunity to look again into the living room from a different point of view and out to the pool courtyard.

The strongest point of this house to me is its multiple viewpoints, compounded by the changing nature of the light that works its way through the house during the day.

People frequently ask us, ‘What part of the house do you actually live in?’  We always answer, ‘All of it.’  The reason is that we are looking at our entire house as we move through it during the day.  Thus, a trip from the downstairs bedroom to the upstairs office is practically an exploration.  We might see something in a new light.  Because of all of our windows and multiple courtyards, we see the outside of our house and our gardens often during the day. Sometimes while I am eating lunch in the breakfast room, I marvel at the fact that I can look out the window there and not see another house.  Thus, I can pretend I am in my country house while I am there.”

In contrast, most homeowners talk about their home as it relates to the real estate market and tired and wrong real estate clichés (i.e., how they bought the least expensive property on the street), the good deal they got, how they achieved a statistical victory by buying below the average price per square foot, how they paid less than their neighbor or maybe even less than the previous owner or less than the next buyer on the block.

How Often Do We Hear a Homebuyer Say Their Home Makes Them Smile Every Day?

This Scott Lyons architect-designed home makes the homeowner happy every day. Glass makes up one wall looking into the garden while the framed landscape paintings on the interior are perfect against the backdrop of oversized, soft Mexican brick walls.

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Another Scott Lyons-designed home with a living room balcony terrace that wraps around the house and juts into the forest surrounding the small spring-fed finger lake.

Here are some examples of what makes a homeowner smile. Pleasing proportions of the rooms fill a homeowner with an aesthetic calm; the sun circling the four corners of the home through the day and that illuminates every room, creates joy; breezes deliberately captured on the veranda bring comfort and a sense of freedom; or the views of nature: green trees and blue water immerse one in a nature consciousness, rather than the blank walls of neighboring homes. The people who love their homes talk about how their home is sited with views; the people who just like their homes talk generically about the neighborhood. And yet that homeowner with a smile may not have paid any more per square foot than the owner who was preoccupied with price.

What gives a home its real value? What characteristics foster happiness and joy and even wonderment? On the flip side, what are the characteristics that most buyers take into consideration as they ignore the aesthetic criteria that would make them happy? Most people buying a home have a checklist of amenities, a predetermined preference for a certain style, an inventory of rooms, and criteria such as school districts and price.

Most Homebuyers Search For Generic Style Preferences and Amenities

The following are some typical priorities for most home buyers who make aesthetics and happiness in a home a lower priority:

They search for a home in a good school district. Within a desired school district buyers often say: “There are not any homes here we like, but we want to be here for our children and this house will do for now.” In essence, the home becomes a school dormitory for the children.

Often homebuyers search for a home that has an architectural façade that represents how they see themselves or how they would like to be perceived. Whether they prefer English TudorModern or Mediterranean, it is a little like slapping a bumper sticker on their car to reinforce their personal identity. Bumper sticker styles become problematic when personal interests or tastes evolve.

Buyers often search for a home as a stage for an interior designer to create a set design. Eventually the decorations quickly become stale and any lingering excitement for the home soon evaporates.

Often buyers will look for a home that will look good with their furniture or they will bring a tape measure with them as they are looking for a home that will fit their furniture.  This is in contrast to buyers looking foremost for a wonderful home and then finding the furniture that will accentuate the space.

Many Homebuyers Search for a Set of Statistics and Inventory of Amenities

While pragmatic, none of these considerations would ultimately rank very high in the happiness quotient of living in a home. Styles come and go, needs for rooms change, technology renders some spaces obsolete, more charter and private schools render public school districts less important.

But on top of the typical checklist of “wants” in a home, most home buyers are consumed with gaining a statistical edge on other buyers. This is true regardless of whether the price is a few hundred thousand or many millions of dollars. I do not know of any other investment that people take so personally. I have seen sophisticated investors in a down market meltdown at the thought of losing a few percentage points of the purchase price at the time they sell their home when they routinely realize losses or gains of millions of dollars in other markets or investments without flinching. Ironically, the home buyers consumed with gaining a statistical edge on the purchase of a property generally realize far less appreciation than those buyers who emphasized the aesthetics of a home, the site of a home, and the qualities of a home that generate happiness when living in it. That is because structures depreciate and fashion trends go out of style, but the appeal of aesthetically sound homes remains current and resonates with the homeowner.

The Characteristics of Homes People Really Love

People who really love their home discovered a home with a more enlightened sets of attributes.

A Great Site

Buyers who found a great site, not just a good location are the ones who feel good every day.

View from second floor library with two walls wrapped in glass. This home is designed by architects Oglesby Greene.

A great site is not just the land it is on, but what is next to it and in the distance. What a difference in your day if you are able to look out at a meadow, a park, a river, an ocean, or the private gardens of a large estate.

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Modern architect Howard Meyer knew how to site a Georgian style home to capture the views of White Rock Lake.

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Some extraordinary homes are designed on small lots with great views, others are designed on the rare four-acre lots in Dallas as this one is, capturing 270° views of White Rock Lake.

A Vibrant Setting

Homeowners love living in a vibrant setting. When they look outside and see interesting neighbors, an eclectic mix of people, or see the vibrancy of nature with calls of competing songbirds, they have a profound appreciation of their home and the nature that surrounds it.

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From the street one would not know this period home is on a creek and that it enjoys Rock Creek on the side of the home and Turtle Creek behind the home.

Homes Accentuated by Nature

Exhilarated homeowners have homes that relate to the outdoors. People have a special affection for their home when the winter sun, low on the horizon, will rake across their floors and ceilings or when they view nature through the windows and those visual vignettes become the decoration for the home.

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Sunlight permeates this O’Neil Ford-designed home.

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Tucked back against the Katy Trail on a very small lot, this elegant modern home designed by architect Frank Welch has views of forest, Turtle Creek, and beyond, creating visual vignettes on every floor.

Sunlight From Three or Four Directions

When I am visiting a home an owner really loves, I find it remarkable how often I can stand in a room and be able to see outside in three or four directions. Also, whether it is a traditional or modern home, it has a floor plan that allows sightlines into several different rooms and creates an environment that is elegant and relaxed.

Richard Meier-designed home allows views to rooms on both levels of home and to gardens surrounding home.

Living in Every Room of Home

Homeowners who passionately enjoy their home will say to me that they live in every room of their home. How often do we hear the opposite from others who don’t passionately enjoy their home? Many actually live in only a third of their house and some rooms they seldom enter.

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Braxton Werner and Paul Field designed this modern home where the delineation of exterior and interior spaces disappear. The homeowner enjoys living in every interior and exterior space, all visually connected.

Flexibility in Use of Rooms

A beautiful space is a thrilling space regardless of how it is used. It is satisfying and fun for a homeowner who can easily repurpose a room as needs, interest, or technologies evolve. These spaces that can be purposefully transformed are in a stark contrast to homes with a very strict hierarchy of rooms with prescribed purposes assigned to each one of them. Narrowly used unpleasant living rooms or stadium seating media rooms over the garage or in a bonus space quickly come to mind.

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Classical proportions and architecture create a lovely room that the homeowners are able to use as a sunroom, breakfast room, for luncheons, dining, business meetings or extensive entertaining.

Classical proportions and a subdued or exuberant design can architecturally excite a homeowner for years. Pronounced architectural embellishments thrown at the surfaces of either a modern or traditional home can become caricatures of themselves.

Positive Evolution of Neighborhood

There is nothing like a neighborhood that is evolving in a positive way to make a homeowner fall in love with their home all over again. Homeowners can be very happy and enjoy the adrenaline of living in a dangerous, run-down neighborhood if every day the neighborhood gets better. By the same token, homeowners become very unhappy in a very expensive neighborhood if it is evolving in a slightly negative way, whether fraying at the edges or obnoxious new homes being built nearby.

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Ron Wommack, FAIA, designed this hidden home with views of a greenbelt for a cultural tastemaker that set the positive trend for a neighborhood that was forgotten and now is becoming very chic.

Design and Renovation Fosters Affection

The bond that develops between an owner and a home through the process of design and renovation is incredible. Renovating a home allows one to better understand the nuances of the home and what it is trying to express. There are always moments during the design dialogue, sometimes better described as a battle between a house and owner, but in the end both sides yield a bit and there is an everlasting love affair.

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Extensive renovation is most often associated with early or midcentury homes, but often the most creative and compelling renovations are done on more recent homes like this one renovated by architect Bentley Tibbs.

A Dynamic Neighborhood

A dynamic neighborhood keeps the feelings for a home fresh. A neighborhood with people of different ages and interests keeps it vibrant. A home one loves is both a private sanctuary and one that links to nature and the community.

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Along with birds attracted to the many species of trees, thousands of monarch butterflies visit the flowering garden every year to the delight of neighbors and visitors strolling or running down the Swiss Avenue boulevard.

The view of the boulevard from the front porch of a Swiss Avenue home is a perfect place to experience a vibrant neighborhood.

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Families with young children and a 100-year-old philanthropist live side by side, all enjoying the Highland Park residents visiting the library across the street or people playing in the park.

Architect-Designed Homes

Homeowners love homes that are architect-designed. Over the years I have noticed that if someone grew up in an architect-designed home, that person is likely to retain an architect to design his or her home as an adult. These homeowners appreciate that an architect-designed home has a point of view, a purposeful floor plan and pleasing proportions. All the things they come to love.

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California Modernist Harwell Hamilton Harris designed what he referred to as his favorite home.  His clients were a young couple who in the 1950s who had each grown up in architect-designed homes. They loved every minute in the house for over 40 years as do the current owners who have lived there approximately 20 years.

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Whether architect Howard Meyer was designing a modern home or a traditional home, he designed spaces that made people smile.

Viewing a home purely as a style, a size, a statistic, as an investment, or a portal to a particular school district, is not a recipe for happiness in the home, nor is it a reliable route to appreciation in value. Viewing a home as a place that generates happiness brings joy as well as economic appreciation. Happiness in a home nurtures and empowers us to make a great contribution to the community. The pursuit of happiness in a home should be the fundamental goal of the American dream.

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When I think of a home that is loved, I think of this home much loved by many in Dallas. Everyone who has been in this home designed by John Scudder Adkins is enchanted by its warmth, sunlight, exquisite tailored elegance, and views looking out at beautiful gardens.

Please email me at dnewby@dougnewby.com to let me know why you love your home.

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Categories: Architects and Architecture, Favorites, Real Estate Insights

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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


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