2023 RDAA | Custom Urban House | Rollingwood Residence | A Parallel Architecture

“This house is so, so good, said one of our judges. “It’s effortless inside and out.” Or seemingly so, because as all architects know, it takes a great deal of heavy lifting to achieve that effortless look in a house—especially a large house in an urban setting. In this case, A Parallel Architecture was tasked with arranging more than 7,000 square feet of living space and a three-car garage on less than half an acre—all while preserving as much usable open space as possible. 

“Our client valued design, but she was most concerned with how it would function as a home,” says Ryan Burke, AIA. “Our challenge was to provide a family-oriented front yard and backyard and a big car program without walling off the neighborhood. And we had a very large tree to work around. Our siting and the more austere massing were to make sure the house and garage remained a backdrop to the landscaping.”

To mask the size of the garage, the firm rotated it away from the street and pulled it forward on the lot to create an entry court. The entry and living room behind it maintain the garage’s single-story proportions, while a bedroom and lounge wing to the east rises to two stories. The carefully calibrated front façade of Roman brick, glass, and Thermory wood accents keeps all the volumes in balance.  “It’s so unfussy,” noted a judge. “It’s sculptural without being overbearing. And the composition from the street is beautiful—so serene, quiet, calm.” 

Interiors are equally serene, continuing the delicate orchestration of scale and the restrained palette of materials. The living room hews to just one story, allowing its Roman brick chimney and shimmering, fluted-glass fireplace to convey an understated elegance and intimacy. White oak appears on multiple surfaces—as storage walls, cabinetry, ceilings, doors, and as large-format flooring sourced from Europe. A curved Roman brick and white oak storage wall bends from the entry to the kitchen, subtly leading visitors to the true heart of the house. 

Unlike the more compressed living room, the kitchen rises high with a four-sided clerestory. Without popping its top, the room would have been darkened by the garage and suffered excessive glare from adjacent window walls. “We don’t like making all the ceilings tall,” says Ryan. “Otherwise you feel like you’re always chasing your tail.” 

The kitchen opens to a vast covered porch with screens that can deploy in buggy weather. Organic natural pavers trace a path to an outdoor fireplace, a vertical element that rises above the garden wall. Beyond the walls are rain gardens that capture and channel stormwater runoff. “The shaping of exterior spaces is lovely,” said a judge “There is so much restraint in this house, yet it feels so warm.”

Honor Award

Custom Urban House

A Parallel Architecture

Rollingwood Residence

West Lake Hills, Texas

Project Credits

Architect: Ryan Burke, AIA, and Eric Barth, AIA, principals in charge; Jacob Brown, project designer, A Parallel Architecture, Austin, Texas

Builder: Shoberg Homes, West Lake Hills, Texas

Interior Designer: Polly Hazelwood

Structural Engineer: Steinman Luevano Structures, LLP, Austin

Project Size: 7,169 square feet

Site Size: 0.4 acre

Construction Cost: Withheld

Photography: Chase Daniel; Casey Dunn

Key Products:

Bathroom Ventilation: Panasonic

Cladding: San Selmo brick; Thermory wood cladding

Cooktop/Ovens: Wolf

Door Hardware: Emtek

Faucets: Kohler; Hansgrohe

Fireplace: Spark Modern Fires; Isokern (outdoor)

Flooring: Moncer

Humidity Control: Ultra-Aire

HVAC: Mitsubishi

Lighting: Sonneman 

Lighting Control: Lutron

Outdoor Grill: Lynx Grills

Paints: Benjamin Moore 

Pavers: Holland Stone; Eco-Priora

Refrigerator: Sub-Zero

Roof Windows: VELUX

Shower Enclosure: C.R. Laurence

Sinks: Kohler

Toilets: TOTO

Tubs: Duravit; custom 

Underlayment/Sheathing: ZIP System

Windows/Window Wall Systems: Western Windows