Archive for July 2016

An overhaul of a Southern Living house with a view of Pinnacle Mountain, Little Rock

Sometimes people who are considering purchasing land for a project ask us to dissect it.  Tell them what we think. We take in the views, vistas, solar angles, winds, topography, drainage, composition of soil, vegetation, approach and overall feel of a place.  For three years, we worked with a family of nine searching for a site within the city limits where they could build a home and have some land.  Finally, the search paid off –  It wasn’t until they found this wonderful piece of land with a north view of Pinnacle Mountain, an existing baseball field, a pond and a Southern Living house that we told them to purchase the land (quickly), and we’ll work with the bones of the house.  It was and still is a spectacular site. We kept a majority of the structure of the house, removed the existing front porch, brick, columns, dormers and pool in the back yard. We renovated the existing house, designed a bedroom addition, a separate garage/gym/studio apartment as well as re-positioned the new pool/outdoor fireplace at the front of the house with the view to Pinnacle.

Photos of the existing site before construction:

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Before/After photos of the front porch:

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Photos below – Before (same elevation):         After:

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Before of rear yard with pool:                           After of rear yard with paving (pool in front yard)

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Details of addition and view looking towards Pinnacle Mountain:

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Interiors at kitchen, base and window detail

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Traveling was good for the soul

We recently traveled to Los Angeles where we toured several houses designed by architects in the early 1920’s as well as visited the beaches in the area, particularly Venice Beach and Santa Monica.  Below are photos of Venice Beach and Muscle Beach.

Venice was founded by tobacco millionaire, Abbot Kenney in 1905 as a beach resort town and has been labeled, “a cultural hub known for its eccentricities”.  Our kind of place. It includes Muscle Beach, handball courts, the paddle tennis courts, skate dancing plaza, beach volleyball courts, bike trails and the basketball courts are renowned for their high level of streetball. Numerous professional basketball players developed their games or have been recruited on these courts.  There’s art, music and architecture as well.  Venice was also where The Doors formed in 1965 as well as the birthplace of the band Jane’s Addition.

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House in Chenal Valley – What is beauty in architecture?

Reflecting this week on a recent excerpt in a local publication on Prime Property: 10 of the most beautiful homes in Little Rock. One of the projects we designed is included in this list and is quite different from the other selections. So, we’ve been discussing beauty in architecture and re-questioning what we think beauty means to us.

We realize beauty is dependent to some extent on culture and experience; but can beauty be universally understood at some level?

Aesthetic, in architecture, is often linked with order and balance. Rhythm, for instance is frequently desired within striking compositions. So, is architecture nothing more than the manipulation of space to follow certain rules of beauty? Can architecture break or challenge such rules that are directly connected to the human senses?

When the human nervous system experiences beauty, certain parts of the brain light up. It seems that, to some extent, humans can be taught what beauty means. Again, culture and experience may have a significant role. Yet, there are certain qualities that are constantly found regardless of culture or experience. According to Beauty and Brain these are: grids, zigzags, spirals and curves.  Such findings indicate that on some level, beauty may be universal.

As architects, we strive to create beautiful forms and spaces that inspire humans within. It is often said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”; however, there are a collection of architectural spaces that never fail to stir occupants deeply. Like many designers, architects follow rules and consciously bend them. To advance as a profession, it is important to learn from the discoveries of neuroaesthetics; but it is equally important to challenge them. Architects should not feel limited by such findings, but rather they should feel freed to learn why occupants respond the way they do – to certain arrangements of space.

The experience of beauty is fundamental to what makes us all human. We may find beauty in different things at different times; however, the joy found in surrounding architectural space and form is universal. As spacial compositions continue to evolve, so too will our understanding of the meaning behind beauty.

Below is the house we designed that was included in the list of the 10 Most Beautiful Homes in Little Rock.

And we can’t help but think of this weeks happenings that beauty of the human race is all the differences between us.


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