You would never imagine from driving down a street of lovely estate homes in the gated community of Glen Abbey that behind the deed restricted architectural continuity of homes you would see rugged topography, creeks, and forest. What appears to be a street of conventional lots and homes is where you will find one of the most dramatic modern homes and sites in Dallas.
Previously, I have written that the most challenging and difficult sites inspire great homes. These sites are often remnant pieces of land like the embankment of railroad tracks, now the Katy Trail running alongside the Turtle Creek Park neighborhood. Starting a construction in a place like this can be complicated with the rugged terrain but it can become easier if you get some mini excavators for rent to level out the land quickly to get started, just how the architect Frank Welch did who designed a three-story modern home with a swimming pool placed on the top of the jutting rock formation:
Or ones tucked in a crevice of a neighborhood on which there did not seem to be room for a home to be built. Architect Bob James found the solution with this Dallas Chapter AIA Merit Award-winning home built in the Brookshire Park neighborhood:
It is true, it would not be difficult to design a traditional French or Mediterranean style home lined up on the street in this deed restricted neighborhood.
One may wonder how a one-acre lot in the middle of a series of wide lots in the prestigious neighborhood of Glen Abbey could create a complex challenge or prove to be a difficult site.
Not visible from the street is the stunning elevation, topography, elevation and view of nature uninterrupted by homes or lights of the city. The question for any modernist is how to capture that landscape with the design of the home. Additionally, a really puzzling aspect of designing this home was how to do this when the property has neighborhood deed restrictions that require the facades of the homes to reflect a traditional European style.
On the largest estate properties unencumbered by other development, it is possible for a classic estate home to capture the landscape. The Crespi/Hicks Estate is the best example of this. It is an elegant French-style home that is perfectly sited on 25 acres that capture the views of gardens, meadows, and forest from any room room in four directions.
However, a luxury neighborhood, like Glen Abbey, filled with large estate homes on one acre lots makes it far more difficult for a traditional home to have private and expansive views.
My first impression of the property totally changed when I approached the home’s front door and could see through the glass corridor to the rear of the property where the land sweeps towards a bluff and nature area beyond White Rock Creek.
Graham Greene, AIA, of Oglesby•Greene did not let the neighborhood deed restrictions and design guidelines restrict the views of nature. Graham Greene was able to design a home where nature is the central theme of the design.
Greene’s design solution was comprised of three elements:
Graham Greene, AIA, went further back into the architectural archives than the prevalent French and European designs used today. He found a 14th century stone English estate home whose façade lent itself to the modern home designed in Glen Abbey.
Both Graham Greene and O’Neil Ford designed modern homes that reinterpret a time honored style. Their designs resulted in rooms that are open, an honesty of materials, continuous exterior and interior walls, and the design of the homes submit to the landscape.
Graham Greene created a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired pattern of exterior stacked stone that continues inside the home. The exterior element of crosscut Douglas fir is repeated inside the home. The large amounts of glass and glazed openings show the walls that penetrate the interior and exterior spaces.
The consistent use of materials used to satisfy the exterior deed restrictions are also used on the inside of the home, further blending the interior and exterior spaces.
Architect Graham Greene, by siting the home on one side of the lot, allows the public perimeter of the house to be reinforced with mechanical rooms, garages, closets, pantries and rooms not requiring windows.
This plan also allows the rest of the home to be effortlessly open with one- and two-story walls of windows and glazed openings on the private side of the home and rear façade. Nature becomes the central element of design.
Many of the most admired homes are hidden away from the street as they submit to the landscape. This Graham Greene-designed modern home is close to the street, but still almost disappears as it recedes into the landscape. The home ascends in height, in unison with the fall of the land descending towards the creek. This accentuated verticality enhances the views of this dramatic setting.
This modern home is precisely designed, with a consistent palette of warm woods, stacked stone, and glass reflecting and integrating the landscape into the design of the home. These materials and textures create a carefully composed composition that reflects the mature trees, the natural state of the topography, and a sense of nature.
Graham Greene has created a home with a precision relating to its design, technology and materials. The textures are warm and rich. Glass is abundant. One of the most beautiful spots in Dallas infuses the design of this modern home.