Recently, I represented a very stylish and sophisticated young couple who desired a modern home. These buyers recognized the Robert Meckfessel design of this Mediterranean home in Greenway Parks is a link to classic Mediterranean and Texas Modern styles. They knew the influence of Spanish Colonial homes on David Williams who created the Texas Modern style of architecture. They immediately responded to the modernity of this Robert Meckfessel-designed home, which they quickly purchased.
I often find that clients and friends who really enjoy modern homes have a similar affinity to Mediterranean-style homes. The open floor plans, abundance of natural light, and lack of heavy ornamentation are the most apparent similarities. The more subtle similarities are rooted in the concept behind Mediterranean and Texas modern homes.
One can see the similarity of the classic Mediterranean homes in Europe, the Spanish Colonial homes in Mexico and the David Williams designed Texas Modern homes in Dallas. All these homes typically had a spare, symmetrical and formal structure with a subordinate wing that added later. Courtyards were often framed with these subordinate wings or low courtyard walls. Covered terraces provided shelter from the summer sun while allowing the low winter sun to infiltrate the home and provide and outdoor space that captured the summer breezes.
The David Williams designed homes at both McFarlin and St. Johns reflect the formal structure, the more informal wings, continuous walls to outside rooms, and protected porches. These homes, like the early Mediterranean homes and the recent home by Robert Meckfessel share their architectural honesty, lack of excessive ornamentation and a crisp modernity softened by rolled corners on the plaster walls on the Meckfessel design in the Greenway Parks home and the hand-carved woodwork and hand-hammered iron work in this David Williams-designed Texas Modern home in the Park Cities.
Robert Meckfessel, known for his modern architecture, was asked to design a Mediterranean home in Greenway Parks. Robert Meckfessel confirmed in a recent conversation that he was inspired by his research in classic Mediterranean homes and his familiarity with Texas Modern homes. “When I researched Mediterranean homes, I realized there were no hard-and-fast rules when it came to design or proportions,” he told me. “But I did find a pattern of symmetrical structures with subordinated wings that were added later. This is how I approached the house on Wenonah in Greenway Parks. It started with a fairly formal structure that becomes more relaxed when a wing is added along with a courtyard wall with a planter top. The feel of the house becomes softer because there are no wood casements around the doors, only rounded plaster openings. I eliminated ornamentation in the interior and around the doors, creating a crisp but rolled edge.”
Meckfessel added that the planter top on the three-foot tall courtyard wall was inspired by one of his favorite residences, Alvar Aalto’s Villa Mairea outside of Helsinki.
Not only has David Williams had a great influence on modern architects in Dallas, but he had a great influence on Greenway Parks. Here he laid out a plan of curving boulevards and triangle parks, and shared private greenways. Along with his architecture being influenced by the time he spent in Mexico where he made his small fortune between 1916-1923, Greenway Parks is also influenced by his residential project in Tampico where David Williams sited the homes in Aquila Colony facing public greens and parks.
There are a great number of architect-designed homes representing many architectural styles. On the other end of the block is a Fooshee and Cheek Colonial home that I sold and is now completely renovated. Around the corner is a midcentury modern home I sold that was designed by Hidell and Decker. Another midcentury home is the one designed by Howard Meyer on Nakoma
Greenway Parks home owners have retained talented architects and interior designers, including Svend Fruit and Mil Bodron, Allen Kirsch, Jason and Signe Smith, who preserve and burnish these delightful Greenway Parks homes. While original 1930s and 1940s houses are reinterpreted in a modern way, many are not spacious enough for a large family or open enough to fulfill the desire of modernists. This Mediterranean home on Wenonah designed by Robert Meckfessel, FAIA, accomplishes what so many homeowners are now looking for – space and style.