Robbs Run House
Austin, TexasA need to save 15 specimen oaks determined the iconic form of this house. Its potentially bulky form is transformed into two tall slim Monopoly houses with a glass slot that joins and splits the house top to bottom, flooding light throughout. McKinney York chose straightforward materials such as metal roofs for rainwater collection, cementitious siding and recycled stone for the retaining walls and porch fireplace. It is the detailing that brings elegance to those materials - for example the taut eaves and clever "inverse board and batten" use of the siding which accentuate the slimness of the building. The siding is joined at the corners by an inverted metal corner, enhancing the simplicity of the composition. Each house form has its own grayish blue chameleon color which sometimes looks the same and at other times of the day are striking different - a feature that keeps the neighbors intrigued.
2006 AIA Austin Merit Design Award
Sustainable initiatives include: five-star rating from City of Austin Green Building Program (the highest rating, only given to .5% of submitted projects, as of 2005); 1,200 gallon rainwater collection cistern for garden irrigation; house sited to protect specimen trees; salvaged stone from former house on lot reused to create fireplace and retaining walls; high performance spray foam insulation for exterior envelope including sealed attic space; high efficiency water-cooled air conditioning system utilizing an evaporative condenser, a variation of a “cooling tower”; 3 kilowatt photovoltaic system; low-water consumption, native plants; VOC-free compressed wheat board used for 75% of interior cabinet materials; recycled glass terrazzo counter top in guest bathroom; and optimization of daylighting and cross-ventilation.