Wolfe Den, Austin, Texas

written by:
August 25, 2009

Architect MJ Neal, much like his hometown of Austin, Texas, possesses a balanced combination of country cordiality and urban edge. In October 2008, we wrote about one of his projects in the rural town of Cleburne, outside of Fort Worth, which embodied the spacious, roughhewn side of Neal's style. Today we feature one of his most recent projects, Wolfe Den, an urbane counterbalance to our last visit with this Texan architect.

 

Click the yellow "Slideshow" button to see photos and floor plans for the project. Photos: Viviane Vives.

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  Homeowners Alex Wolfe and Jamie Thorvilson recently moved into the Wolfe Den, which sits on a quiet residential block in Austin. The facade, clad in massarunduba hardwood sourced from a managed forest supplier, strikes a sharp modern chord but still echoes the painted wood siding on many of the neighboring homes.
    Homeowners Alex Wolfe and Jamie Thorvilson recently moved into the Wolfe Den, which sits on a quiet residential block in Austin. The facade, clad in massarunduba hardwood sourced from a managed forest supplier, strikes a sharp modern chord but still echoes the painted wood siding on many of the neighboring homes.
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  The bright red front door forms a complete piece with the glass panel beside it, such that the entire piece pivots when the entryway opens. Wolfe, a technology enthusiast, chose to substitute a standard lock and key system for a high-tech thumb-reader mechanism.
    The bright red front door forms a complete piece with the glass panel beside it, such that the entire piece pivots when the entryway opens. Wolfe, a technology enthusiast, chose to substitute a standard lock and key system for a high-tech thumb-reader mechanism.
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  The front entrance opens onto the expansive double-height sitting room with a large sectional couch. The white wall on the east side of the house is entirely dedicated to built-in storage, with recessed lighting along the upper edge.
    The front entrance opens onto the expansive double-height sitting room with a large sectional couch. The white wall on the east side of the house is entirely dedicated to built-in storage, with recessed lighting along the upper edge.
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  The stairs to the second level are constructed with a steel superstructure and two-tone ipe treads. The third step from the bottom extends outward to form a bench.
    The stairs to the second level are constructed with a steel superstructure and two-tone ipe treads. The third step from the bottom extends outward to form a bench.
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  The west-facing exterior side wall is covered with an aluminum lattice rainscreen that controls sun pouring into the full-height windows beneath.
    The west-facing exterior side wall is covered with an aluminum lattice rainscreen that controls sun pouring into the full-height windows beneath.
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  Along the entire west side of the house, a lush courtyard creates private exterior space that can be enjoyed during much of the year in Austin, particularly with large shade trees overhead. The entire ground level of the house opens onto the courtyard, including the first-floor shower.
    Along the entire west side of the house, a lush courtyard creates private exterior space that can be enjoyed during much of the year in Austin, particularly with large shade trees overhead. The entire ground level of the house opens onto the courtyard, including the first-floor shower.
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  For cool nights in the courtyard, a built-in brick fireplace keeps outdoor space comfortable and functional.
    For cool nights in the courtyard, a built-in brick fireplace keeps outdoor space comfortable and functional.
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  The master suite dominates the second floor of the house. The large master bath is separated into two areas—a toilet and sink zone, and a wet area where the tub and showers can drain into the plank floor. Sliding glass doors open the bathing area onto the deck, which connects on the other side to the master bedroom.
    The master suite dominates the second floor of the house. The large master bath is separated into two areas—a toilet and sink zone, and a wet area where the tub and showers can drain into the plank floor. Sliding glass doors open the bathing area onto the deck, which connects on the other side to the master bedroom.
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  The Bulthaup kitchen is open and light, with a wide stainless steel countertop that separates the cooking area without isolating it from the living space, allowing the residents to prepare food while entertaining guests.
    The Bulthaup kitchen is open and light, with a wide stainless steel countertop that separates the cooking area without isolating it from the living space, allowing the residents to prepare food while entertaining guests.
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  The simple rectangular floor plan keeps the interior program open on the first floor, with each zone flowing into the next, and maximizes the connection to the garden.
    The simple rectangular floor plan keeps the interior program open on the first floor, with each zone flowing into the next, and maximizes the connection to the garden.
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  The second level master suite is isolated from the rest of the house and was designed to pivot around the deck, which connects the bathroom with the bedroom.
    The second level master suite is isolated from the rest of the house and was designed to pivot around the deck, which connects the bathroom with the bedroom.
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  The Wolfe Den will be featured on the Austin AIA Homes tour in October 2009. It has won the Texas Society of Architects (TSA) design award and the AIA Austin design award. For more on this project and others, visit MJ Neal's blog
    The Wolfe Den will be featured on the Austin AIA Homes tour in October 2009. It has won the Texas Society of Architects (TSA) design award and the AIA Austin design award. For more on this project and others, visit MJ Neal's blog

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