"These old bungalows had an insightful way of carving out a community in a sprawling city like Houston,” says architect Carlos Jimenez, looking down Willard Street in the eccentric inner-loop neighborhood Montrose, where new site-maximizing townhouses threaten to outnumber the original single-family cottages. “Their porches create a collective, a way of understanding a city street. We have to reinterpret that in contemporary ways.” On the block where he works and lives, the architect has created a “small urban community of three,” comprised of his own home, his architecture studio with an attached apartment, and, most recently, a new residential project.
Jimenez designed the 3,000-square-foot, wood-framed, two-unit house for a longtime friend on the lot next to his architecture studio. The building’s slate-colored brick facade rises above a trellis-like curtain of aluminum infill panels that form the door for Jimenez’s sophisticated take on a carport. (“Garages create bad habits,” he says. “You start accumulating too many things when they’re out of sight.”) Breezes pass through the south-facing metal scrim, which, when retracted, reveals a wide connection from the street to gardens that wrap around the side and back of the house. A gate of the same panels encloses the passage to the front door, providing an added measure of security while preserving a sense of openness.
The linear two-story house’s lower and upper units (occupied part time by the client and his son, respectively) share a staircase and front door but can function independently. On the ground floor, two bedrooms each have their own bath. “The downstairs is almost like a small hotel,” says Jimenez, whose firm recently completed the Hotel Saint George in Marfa, Texas. The entry hall leads to a small kitchen and common room which, in turn, opens through large sliding glass doors to the landscaped courtyard. Upstairs, an elongated loft-like space spans the full length of the house, roughly defined by open-plan kitchen, living, and dining areas and a sizable bedroom, separated from the other spaces by a master bath and closet. Clean lines and refined material choices throughout—terrazzo flooring, Portuguese travertine countertops—unify the minimalist interiors.
Through strategic window placement, Jimenez curated the views to engage with the outdoors while maintaining privacy. “It’s a void of landscape and color,” he says, noting how a low, wide window on the western wall of the upstairs kitchen looks out on an elm tree and the cornflower blue cinderblock wall of his studio next door. According to Jimenez, “Windows are opportunities to make you forget the architecture.”
Carlos Jimenez Studio
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Carlos Jimenez, Principal, Project designer,
Bradley R. Dougherty, PE
Marlys Tokerud, Tokerud & Co., Interiors consultant
Ted Anderson Builders
Paul Hester, Hester + Hardaway Photographers (713) 819-8420
structural concrete slab on bell bottom footings, wood frame
Manufacturer of any structural components unique to this project: Trussway (wood trusses)
Masonry: Western Brick Co.
Metal panels: Aluminum infill panels at carport by Rollac Shutter of Texas, Inc.
Moisture barrier: Dupont Tyvek, Grace Ice & Water Shield
Built-up roofing: GAF TPO Roofing systems
Metal: Metallic Building Co. galvalume steel panels (carport roofing)
Metal frame: Fleetwood Aluminum Windows and Doors
Glass: double insulated / Fleetwood
Entrances: Fleetwood Aluminum Windows & Doors
Wood doors: Solid core wood doors by BISON
Sliding doors: Fleetwood Aluminum Sliding doors
Special doors: Custom garage door by Rollac Shutter of Texas, Inc.
Locksets: Fleetwood, Yale
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Bulthaup Kitchens and bathroom cabinets,
Paints and stains: Benjamin Moore Paints
Plastic laminate: Wilsonart Plastic Laminate
Solid surfacing: Bulthaup (kitchen counters and bathroom vanity tops)
Floor and wall tile: Terrazzo flooring
Other furniture: ARTEK
Interior ambient lighting: Lightolier Lighting, Louis Poulsen Lighting
Downlights: Lightolier Lighting
Tasklighting: Artemide Tolomeo table lights
Exterior: Hubbel lighting
Dimming system or other lighting controls: Lutron Dimmers & Switches
Duravit Bathroom fixtures
Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:RheemTankless water heaters,