Douglas Newby
Architecturally Significant Homes
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Top 5 Inspired Homes to Shelter in Place, Fall 2020

Homes That Make Us Happy

- Douglas Newby

1. Max Levy, FAIA, Designed a Neighborhood Home Immersed in Nature

Perfect to Shelter in Place

It is almost as if Max Levy anticipated shelter in place. Architect Max Levy has always been inspired by nature to shape his ideas. His homes reflect his reverence for nature which makes the homes he designs even more relevant now. As I mentioned in my TEDxTalk four years ago, homes people love are immersed in nature and surrounded by vibrancy. I haven’t seen a shift in the thoughts about homes that make people happy, but I have seen a renewed focus on the characteristics of homes that make us happy.

There has been a pronounced shift from people emphasizing statistics and amenities and refocus on the characteristics of a home that people love living, working and playing in the home during a shelter in place directive. Max was pandemically prescient with the design of this Greenway Parks modern home.

It is a top five inspired home to shelter in place because it is immersed in a neighborhood, Greenway Parks, that celebrates nature and a vibrant community with its shared greenway. This home becomes a lovely retreat when there is a government edict to retreat to your shelter in place home. Further, the home is built around a second-floor window-walled room accessed from the courtyard garden.

This glassed-in room becomes a refuge within this Greenway Parks residential retreat. From the outside, one ascends to this room surrounded by windows and is physically removed from the rest of the home but visually connected to nature, the neighborhood and the other rooms of the home through the lovely veil of trees. When you are sent home to shelter in place, this is where you would want to be.

2. Architect Frank Welch Designed This Modern Home in Turtle Creek Park, Known for Nature and Vibrancy

Shelter in Place Home Immersed in Nature and Surrounded by Vibrancy

Turtle Creek Park is a perfect shelter in place neighborhood. It is here the late architect Frank Welch, FAIA, designed a home on a site carved out of the rock outcropping of a railroad embankment. This Turtle Creek Park modern home is not only immersed in nature, but is imbedded in nature, ideal to shelter in place. It backs up to the lush perimeter of the Katy Trail and looks over the estate gardens of the homes across Turtle Creek Drive to Turtle Creek. Turtle Creek Park is maybe the definitive Dallas neighborhood of nature and vibrancy.

This forested Turtle Creek Park neighborhood of hills and curving streets of just 39 homes feels a long way from Dallas yet in the distant foreground of the tops of Turtle Creek high-rises and immediately around this protected neighborhood are many of Dallas’ favorite restaurants and shops. What a perfect place to shelter in place. You walk through nature to arrive in the most vibrant parts of Dallas.

Architect Frank Welch also elevated the kitchen and living areas to the second floor to capture the best views of its forested neighborhood and Turtle Creek. During shelter in place, one of the largest Bulthaup kitchens in North America brings even greater joy when you are cooking and eating at home. This was an inspired home when it was built and now with shelter in place becomes even more inspired.

3. Lionel Morrison Designed Home Looking Over Flippen Park in Highland Park

Shelter in Place and Connect With Neighbors

This Lionel Morrison architect-designed home received recognition when it was built, but it seems even more forward thinking now during shelter in place. The same characteristics of the home that the owners loved when they built the home are even more loved when they shelter in place. Every day they looked at the splendid views in several directions of the park and said to each other and themselves how lucky they are to live in such a splendid home.

The characteristics of homes people love have not changed, but the awareness and focus on them has since shelter in place. A good site is often the defining element of a home. Twenty years ago, the homeowners and Lionel Morrison looked out the upstairs bedroom window of the previous home on the site and realized the best views were from the second floor. Architect Lionel Morrison suggested that he design the home similar to a London townhouse with the living spaces on the second floor. The homeowners quickly agreed and purchased the lot. When Lionel Morrison’s first draft of the plans came back, the living areas were shown on the first floor as that was the logical way to create all the rooms within the footprint of the home. The homeowners pushed for the original concept that was discussed of the living areas on the second floor, and Lionel was able to come up with a solution. The bowed wall of glass on the second floor provides a panoramic view from the home’s living room, dining room, library and kitchen of Flippen Park on Versailles Avenue in Highland Park.

The park’s gazebo and reflecting pool and fountain can be seen in one direction. The elaborate landscaping can be seen at the other end of the park. Directly in front of the home is the wide expanse of greenspace with curving paths. These views enhance the experience of shelter in place.

During the period of shelter in place, this park was busier than ever as people wanted to be socially distanced while they enjoyed nature in a safe environment. This shelter in place phenomenon made this Lionel Morrison-designed home even more enjoyable for the homeowners who faithfully followed shelter in place recommendations. The human connection is diminished with shelter in place directives. Seeing people walking in the park created a sense of vibrancy and connectivity. During the initial shelter in place order, the homeowners would sit close to the window enjoying the views of the park and people and those on the park paths would look up and wave. During the pandemic people crave nature, but also crave the human connection. This is an inspired modern home to live in at any time, but is even more inspired during a time when people shelter in place and desire to be immersed in nature, surrounded by vibrancy and live in a home that fosters a human connection.

4. Architect Joshua Nimmo Designs a Small Home That Expands into Nature and Connects with Vibrancy

Shelter in Place Here and the Environment Expands

Architect Joshua Nimmo designed this modern home that shows it’s not just how much land you are on or the square footage of your home that makes it enjoyable to shelter in place. This modern home in Urban Reserve is comparable in price and size to many two- and three-story modern townhouses. To shelter in place in this home has the advantage of being on .20 acres of land with a porch that wraps around the front and side of the home overlooking a pond. In addition, a terrace with an overhanging brise-soleil on the other side of the home provides full views through the open living room, dining room and kitchen of the house to the pond on the opposite side. This home is sited to have privacy from all the other modern homes in the neighborhood while a residential path connects the front porch neighborhood of Urban Reserve and a bike path across the street connects you to SMU and White Rock Lake.

While there are defined spaces, the open floor plan and walls of windows of this modern home keep one from feeling claustrophobic. The classic study is a quiet space removed from the rest of the house. An outdoor shower connects to the master bath, further creating a sense you are immersed in nature. This was an inspired home when it was built, and now with shelter in place intermittently in effect, it becomes even more inspired as it embraces the characteristics that make one happy living, working and playing in a home.

5. Howard Meyer Designed the Perfect Shelter in place home in 1939

White Rock Lake Exudes Nature and Vibrancy

During shelter in place directives, people have been leaving their expensive homes to go to a country house or lake house. Famed architect Howard Meyer had it right in 1939 when he conceived of this perfectly proportioned home at White Rock Lake. People have always loved homes that have sunlight streaming in from every direction and sightlines into several rooms. Standing in one room they love this effect even more during shelter in place.

Another characteristic that people love is when a home has a park, a trail, a meadow, a forest, or a lake in front of the home or behind it. This Howard Meyer designed home has a trail and a 1,000-acre lake in front of it. It has a forest, a meadow and a park behind it. Sited on top of a hill on three acres, one can see all the way through the home to endless acres of nature in two directions. During shelter in place, people crave nature.

Here you are surrounded by nature and immersed in nature. During shelter in place people also crave being connected to others. From this home, one sees joggers, runners, walkers and bike riders that go by in the distance, and friends walking at the lake may even wave when you are on the front porch. Even during shelter in place, you feel connected to humanity.


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