Renovation of the Harrell House, Originally by Neuhaus & Taylor, 1963 | Houston, TX | 2014
| LEED Certified |
| Preservation Houston: 2016 Good Brick Award |
| Houston AIA Design Award 2015: Residential Architecture |
| Houston AIA Design Award 2013: On the Boards |
This one-story colonnaded house on a plinth was designed in 1963 by Harwood Taylor of Neuhaus & Taylor when the office was increasingly focused on large commercial projects. The perimeter columns establish a 7’-6” square grid, to which the house and garage rigorously adhere. In the 50 years since its construction, the house has maintained its basic organization of a central living room separating master wing from the children’s bedrooms and kitchen.
The kitchen has been relocated from the front corner of the home, to a central location between the living room and garage. A new floor to ceiling glass wall at the kitchen provides views to a reconfigured upper terrace. Four columns at the West end of the upper terrace were removed to improve views from the living room and kitchen to the new central lawn and pools, and a new steel and aluminum structure above shades the terrace.
The new West lawn and upper terrace reinforce the original central axis through the house. At the front of the home, what once was a pair of solid front doors flush with the brick is now an inset frosted glass wall spanning the width of the entry hall. Separating the entry from the living room is a new central element providing slivers of view and light beyond, but obscuring a direct view into the living room. On the living room side, this space divider integrates a tv cabinet, storage and a fireplace within its body of tightly arrayed vertical fins. The addition of a small round skylight in the living room reinforces centrality and converts the space into a solar clock when its motorized shade is retracted.
The master bedroom size has been reduced to allow for a reconfigured bathroom and dressing areas that improve sharing from what was a separate “his” and “hers” arrangement. A new frosted glass wall and skylight provide natural light within this private space.
The front auto court and side driveway have been reconstructed to reduce hardscape areas and introduce grass pavers for parking. In the back yard a new shade canopy on the pool terrace provides protection from the afternoon sun. The openings in the acrylic panels are inspired by the shadow patterns of the magnolia trees beyond.
Structural repairs as well as new mechanical, electrical and plumbing improvements required stripping the interior to its wood frame. Leaky internal roof drains were removed and a new shallow sloped roof directs rain water to integrated perimeter gutters. Water-damaged interior parquet flooring was replaced with durable matte porcelain tile in a color and finish resembling the new natural limestone of the upper and pool terraces. These steps, and other improvements to the durability, indoor air quality, energy and water efficiency, and site sustainability helped the project receive LEED Certification.
To extend life to this mid-century modern residence, we considered modifications that will allow the house to evolve, paying tribute to the original organization, concept and structure while looking forward to the needs of a growing family.
• Architecture: Murphy Mears Architects
• Interior Design: Meedi Hidalgo, ASID w/ Kuhl Linscomb
• Landscape Design: Murphy Mears Architects + Tim Hansen, ASLA