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The New Brutalism: Preston Hollow Residence in Dallas, Texas by Specht Architects

Project name:
Preston Hollow Residence
Architecture firm:
Specht Architects
Dallas, Texas, United States 
Casey Dunn
Principal architect:
Scott Specht
Design team:
Interior design:
Magni Kalman Design
Built area:
8,000 ft²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Environmental & MEP:
Hocker Design Group
Tools used:
Sebastian Construction
Residential › House

The Austin-based architecture firm Specht Architects has recently completed the Preston Hollow Residence a single-family home located in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas, Texas, featuring 2020 brutalism in its architecture and design.

Architect's statement: The design of Specht’s Preston Hollow 8,000 square foot house was driven by the desire to blur the lines between inside and outside while providing a sense of privacy and seclusion from the street and surrounding neighborhood, at the homeowners request. Its design is influenced by strategies common to classic Dallas modern homes of the 1950’s and ‘60’s. 

The New Brutalism:  Preston Hollow Residence in Dallas, Texas by Specht Architectsimage © Casey Dunn 

Heavy cast-concrete walls extend from the interior of the house out into the landscape, breaking the “modern box” and creating courtyards that allow for a bright, nature-filled view from every room.  This effect is complemented by the huge glass walls that define each space.  A large, floating, pavilion roof hovers over both the interior and exterior rooms, defining a special “living precinct” in the site and further fragmenting the boundary between interior and exterior.  The roof shape and large cantilevered overhangs were carefully configured to provide complete shading from the harsh Dallas sun at all times of day.  An “Impluvium” or opening in the center of the roof is modeled on those found in traditional Roman houses and allows rainwater and light to reach the garden below.  Flowing water plays a large part in the design as well.  Beginning at the entry, a narrow channel courses through the site and to the pool beyond.  The stream is punctuated by a series of cascading terraces and a gentle waterfall near the main entry.  At night, lighting within the water casts changing patterns on the adjacent textured concrete surfaces. 

house in Dallas Texas with large swimming pool at backyard image © Casey Dunn 

A New Brutalism  

The concrete walls in the Preston Hollow house were cast using custom-fabricated formwork that creates a corrugated appearance.  “This technique, a staple of brutalist architecture from the 1960’s and ‘70’s creates a play of shadows and pattern that changes throughout the day.  Unlike the brutalist work from that era, however, the heavy walls here are countered by delicate steel columns, thin window frames, and the hovering cantilevered edges of the roof.  The concrete is a grounding element that provides a contrast to the overall lightness of the spaces,” says Scott Specht, founder Specht Architects.  

Site Plan drawing Site Plan

Traditions of Dallas Modernism 

Dallas has a long tradition of modern architecture that faded for decades and is now experiencing a resurgence.  The home sites of Central Dallas, which are urban, relatively dense, and close to the city center, have driven a unique residential architecture with shaded and screened living spaces that are inward-looking and private.  The Preston Hollow house refers to examples such as Edward Durell Stone’s 1959 Oak Court house, with its outdoor covered dining room surrounded by water, and Philip Johnson’s 1963 Beck Residence with its tree-filled inner courtyards. 

concrete textured wall at the entrance of the house image © Casey Dunn 

Sustainable Design Features

The design for this house is organized around eliminating direct solar gain while still allowing for expansive views.  The large pavilion roof and cantilevered roof overhangs were modeled to provide complete passive shading from the harsh Dallas sun at all times of day. In addition, the entire west façade has no openings at all. Large operable areas of glazing allow for extensive natural ventilation during appropriate seasons. The “Impluvium” allows rainwater to reach the courtyard garden and water collection area below.  This rainwater is used for irrigation and other non-potable uses. 

Dallas home with small garden in front image © Casey Dunn 

house with inner courtyard image © Casey Dunn 

modern house in Texas with courtyard garden insideimage © Casey Dunn 

white dining table with red chairs image © Casey Dunn 

cozy living room with fireplace and large window image © Casey Dunn 

a modern luxe house with inner garden courtyard let the sunlight reaches the plants image © Casey Dunn 

luxury living room design with modern furniture image © Casey Dunn 

round glass table with chairs image © Casey Dunn 

two blue chairs near window image © Casey Dunn 

chairs nearby fireplace image © Casey Dunn 

modern kitchen design image © Casey Dunn 

bedroom with garden view through window image © Casey Dunn 

bathtub with garden view through large window image © Casey Dunn 

house surrounded with green trees image © Casey Dunn 

a house surrounded by beautiful landscape trees image © Casey Dunn 

The New Brutalism:  Preston Hollow Residence in Dallas, Texas by Specht Architectsimage © Casey Dunn 

house with concrete wall and long cantilevered roof image © Casey Dunn 

house with illumination at night image © Casey Dunn 

reflection of the red clouds and house in the swimming pool image © Casey Dunn 

house with green landscape during night time image © Casey Dunn 

green garden design for a modern house image © Casey Dunn 

kids playing football at garden image © Casey Dunn 

Preston Hollow Residence in Dallas, Texas by Specht Architectsimage © Casey Dunn 

house surrounded with swimming pool water image © Casey Dunn 

house with textured concrete walls and green landscape image © Casey Dunn 

Preston Hollow Residence in Dallas, Texas by Specht Architectsimage © Casey Dunn 

bedroom can be seen through window image © Casey Dunn 

outdoor furniture image © Casey Dunn 

Ground Floor PlanGround Floor Plan

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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