The Highland Park Residence offers a counter proposal to the contemporary Tudor mansions and French chateaus of this tony Dallas neighborhood. On a property without any significant natural features or trees, and neighbors looming on either side, our design creates an extraordinary interior environment. Here, an incredible new landscape disguises the garage and is an invitation to occupy in new and unexpected ways. An unadulterated stone bar hovers precariously at the building line, bends to define a private setting, and cantilevers 35’ at the entry. A separate gallery building supports this private milieu behind, and provides a carefully calibrated setting for a significant rotating collection of art.
A series of expectations are created from the outset, and unanticipated spaces unfold as the visitor meanders through the property. Inside, one is alternatively drawn horizontally into the landscape and further into the house; the living room is carved into the stone bar above providing a space of unexpected height, while bewildering curved glass panels and enormous retracting glass doors encourage the transition through the building into the landscape. Raw and refined finishes are paired ubiquitously, with mill finished steel abutting carefully composed Indiana limestone panels, and custom, hand-made tile & glazed volcanic stones from Guadalajara coupling with refined walnut cabinetry & stainless-steel fixtures. Impeccably detailed throughout, the building provides both a tangible material presence and an abstract ground against which the vicissitudes of nature, art and social occasion are highlighted.
Constructional aplomb and meticulous attention to detail abound in the Highland Park Residence, where spatial and material quality always relies on constructional poise. A significant steel structure lays inconspicuously inside the 2nd floor limestone volume, and allows for the seemingly effortless 35’ cantilever at the entry. Here, a courtyard is carved into the master suite as an abstract glass volume that opens the entry to the sky. A similar 2nd floor, protected courtyard is carved into the middle of the limestone volume that provides another source of light and view to the upstairs spaces, as the limestone volume stretches into a screen wall. Elsewhere, great attention was paid to delicate site-glazed window walls, detailed to work with an enormous Skyframe operable door system. Glass is employed both for transparency and reflection, and the two curved glass panels add a multifaceted sense of wonder to the overall ensemble.
The Highland Park Residence assumes a very high level of environmental performance as a requirement, but insists that such concerns work in concert with the overall design agendas. Here, areas of extraordinary environmental performance give way to more delicate conditions when the design demands (i.e. the delicate curtain wall on the ground floor is balanced by a tighter thermal container elsewhere) – the combination being both very energy efficient and spatially complex. Built to LEED standards, the architects worked closely with an innovative mechanical engineering firm that specializes in Integrated Mechanical Design, High Performance Hot Water Design, & Energy Modeling to ensure that the design of the HVAC systems happened in concert with the architectural design. Indoor zones are defined according to occupancy, exposure, and orientation; spaces are efficiently conditioned with a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system and stand-alone dehumidifiers to efficiently handle sensible versus latent loads. We employed powerful, compact HVAC units that consume minimal energy, have a high coefficient of performance, and contribute to maximum room comfort. They have an inverter-compressor technology: their compressor adjusts, conditional on the needs of each room, to maintain comfort and conserve energy. We focused on the sensory relationship between those living in the home and their indoor space. Further, the unit controls each zone in the home independently and can turn off zones that are not in use. Perhaps most importantly, the house is positioned for optimal north south orientation of the main glass areas and supplementary shading is provided for the other glazed surfaces – to the east by the entry overhang and dining porch, the shading at the west by denser evergreen vegetation, and an evergreen vine-covered trellis by the landscape architect for the cabana.
Alterstudio Architecture, LLP of Austin, Texas is a full service architecture and design firm known for its intellect in design, inventiveness, craftsmanship, and details. The work is rooted in deep-seated virtues of architecture – generous space making, shrewd manipulation of day-lighting, and meticulous attention to detail. The heightening of direct human experience and the framing of the complex circumstances of their situations are at the core of each project. We believe that great architecture should deepen our everyday experience at the same time that it elevates our awareness of a larger, changing world. The practice specializes in precise and creative buildings, landscapes and interiors that sensitively respond to their environment and ecologies of place. Our commitment to enhance and protect both the cultural and natural environments of the communities we serve is evident in the technical craftsmanship of our designs and in the long-term sustainability of our projects.