The best of San Antonio architecture was on display Saturday as crowds of admirers toured six homes that have been remodeled or recently constructed by member architects of the San Antonio Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
The self-guided tour, held from noon to 6 p.m., was meant to inspire locals with design ideas to incorporate into their own homes. Around 20 people toured each house throughout the day.
At the home on 832 Estes Ave. in Alamo Heights, architect Elizabeth Haynes told the Rivard Report that her task was to open up the home to light that had been previously shut out, in order to give the home an open feel.
“Before we came in, the home was dark and clunky,” Haynes said. “Now we’ve got glass doors leading outside so that more light gets into the kitchen. And we installed an island in the kitchen, which is the 21st Century hearth of a home.”
Also in Alamo Heights, at 401 Ogden Ln., architect John Grable said that the home in question was built in a historic neighborhood made up of traditional one-bedroom cottages. From that, he managed to put in four bedrooms and bathrooms for each of them in a 3,000 sq. ft. two-story home.
The home at Ogden Lane feels larger than it is, as most rooms have large glass windows and doors to connect with nature.
“Modern architecture has all of the warmth that traditional architecture has,” Grable said. “It’s not really a cold element. It is one that really allows you to explore a better connection with nature.”
Nearby, in Olmos Park, sits a house at 250 Stanford Dr. that architect Kristin Hefty describes as a “funky old Brady Bunch house.” Much of the decor does conjure an image of the Brady family, but Hefty and her team transformed the home into a more modern space by opening up the walkways through the house and utilizing some decor that the owner already had.
In Southtown, just a block over the bustling S. Alamo St., sits a house on 310 Madison St. that the casual passerby might think has been there for decades, but really, it was only constructed back in 2010. Architect and owner Mickey Conrad has created a comfortable and historic-looking home that impressed many on the tour.
“I think the primary thing is that we wanted a comfortable house,” Conrad said. “We just wanted something that is very comfortable, could fit for a family, and work in a lot of natural light. Also, we wanted to fit in with historic King William. Those were our goals and I think we met them.”
At another home, designed by prominent 20th Century architect O’Neil Ford, the new owner has kept the same design and layout as it had when it was constructed in 1962, making small changes to suit modern needs.
As she toured the home, Mayor Ivy Taylor told the Rivard Report that the AIA Homes Tour shows locals that architects in San Antonio are prepared to meet the needs of a modern family.
“Whether it’s building something new, reimagining an old space, or preserving what was here, (this house) seems to fit right in with our 21st century living standards,” Taylor said.
Taylor added that people overlook the importance of being inspired by the spaces that we occupy.
“In our public spaces, the spaces where we work, they help us to create energy,” Taylor said. “That’s the way I always looked at it. As a planner, I like to see the intersection between the built environment and the social environment, but the built environment just provides so much inspiration.”
She added that while renovations to her 105-year-old home are nearly done, the homes from the Saturday tour provide design inspiration for her backyard.
Driving out to the Hill Country, one would expect a planned community on rolling hills to produce identical homes. But at 23421 Edens Canyon, architect Joseph Smith has broken stereotypes and opened up a home on the hillside to the surrounding expanse.
Adam Wilson, president and CEO of Adam Wilson Homes and builder of the house, said that the home has more attention to detail than the other ones in the area.
“It’s a really efficient use of space,” he said. “This house lives much larger than it is.”
This is the 19th year of the AIA San Antonio Homes Tour. To learn more, click here.