2022 RDAA | Architectural Details | Tarrytown Residence | Alterstudio Architecture

“When our clients approached us about doing this house, they told us that they liked our work, but they really like dark houses,” Kevin Alter recalls. “We asked, ‘How dark is dark?’” As it turned out, dark was very dark. 

It’s a challenge to enliven a façade that wants to absorb all the available light, especially on a site shaded by mature trees. But ever resourceful and inventive, Alterstudio devised a mix of materials and details that give dimension and dynamism to the façades, with particular emphasis on the front, street-facing elevation. Here, horizontal Corso bricks contrast with vertically applied ebony-stained cedar siding and a roof fascia of linear ribbed steel. It’s a contrapuntal arrangement akin to visual music. “It’s a very well-detailed project,” said one judge. “The entry is quite exceptional in its mix of materials.”

White soffits on the exterior and ceilings on the interior inject lightness, underscoring and contrasting the dark tones. In plan, the house is as layered as the façades, traversing from front wall, across a formal front courtyard, and through the house to another, more casual courtyard at the back. It creates its own zones of privacy and repose on its suburban corner lot. 

“We are interested in architecture having some figure to it, exerting a kind of presence,” says Kevin. “Architecture is made of many things—many small parts and joints. We were trying to make it feel coherent.”


Architectural Details

Alterstudio Architecture

Tarrytown Residence

Austin, Texas

Project Credits

Architect: Kevin Alter, Ernesto Cragnolino, Tim Whitehill, Joseph Boyle, AIA, Shelley McDavid, AIA, Alterstudio Architecture LLP, Austin, Texas

Builder: Clean Tag, Austin

Landscape Architect: Word+Carr Design Group, Austin

Structural Engineer: MJ Structures, Austin

Project Size: 4,401 square feet

Site Size: 0.37 acre

Construction Cost: Withheld

Photography: Casey Dunn Photography

Key Products

Cladding: Corso brick, ebony-stained cedar siding

Countertops: Absolute black granite, marble, Caesarstone

Door Hardware: Pemko, Sugatsune, FSB, Omnia

HVAC: Mitsubishi

Windows: RAM Windows, Heritage Windows by Andersen