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 entrance 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 of Austin, Texas focuses
its attention to the relationship between the
material facts of architecture and the social
occasions it shelters and invites. The work is
rooted in deep-seated virtues of architecture —
generous space making, shrewd manipulation of
daylighting, 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.
Their commitment to enhancing and protecting
both the cultural and natural environments of
the communities they serve are evident in the
technical craftsmanship of our designs and in
the long-term sustainability of their projects.
Widely recognized for their compelling designs
and meticulous attention to detail, Alterstudio
Architecture has won more than 100 design
awards and has been regularly published