2024 RDAA | Custom Urban House | Westbrook Residence | Alterstudio Architecture

There are architectural firms that work on design ideas and then wait for a willing client to underwrite the build. These firms tend to have a signature style, recognizable through iterations of projects. Alterstudio prefers design ideas to spark from the lives of its clients and the features of the site and neighborhood. 

“I’m always a little suspicious when the work of architects all looks the same,” says Kevin Alter. “You have to have enough modesty to know it’s the clients’ house. It needs to speak to them and their place in the world.”

For this award-winning project, the client’s happy place is in the kitchen—it and adjacent dining and living spaces are the heart of the home. She also wanted everything on one level to facilitate aging in place, and she requested private spaces at a remove from the main hub.

Alterstudio delivered this and more in an Austin neighborhood that’s transitioning from modest low-slung homes to more imposing structures. To strike a balance between the two, the firm anchored a steel bar atop an arrangement of limestone-clad boxes. The surprise is that this is still a one-level house, and that bar contains a series of light monitors that add volume and natural light in key interior spaces. 

Said one judge, “I think this move on the top is very successful when you look at it in section. It carves light deep into the space. What that light does from the inside out is really lovely.”

Custom Urban House

Alterstudio Architecture

Westbrook Residence

Austin, Texas

Architect: Kevin Alter, Ernesto Cragnolino, Tim Whitehill, partners; Will Powell, Michael Woodland, Shelley McDavid, project architects, Alterstudio Architecture, Austin, Texas

Interior Designer: Haifa Hammami, Alterstudio Architecture

Builder: Gery Wilde, Wilde Custom Homes, Austin

Landscape Architect: Shaney Clemmons, Shademaker Studio, Austin

Project size: 3,494 square feet

Site size: 0.41 acre

Construction Cost: Withheld

Photography: Casey Dunn

Cooktop: Miele

Countertops: Caesarstone

Dishwashers: Thermador

Entry doors: Western Window Systems (full-lite doors)

Faucets: Grohe, Rohl, DXV

Fireplace: EcoSmart

Garbage Disposers: InSinkErator

Refrigerators: Thermador (kitchen); Liebherr (pantry freezer)

Paints/Stains: Sherwin-Williams, Rubio Monocoat

Sinks: Franke (kitchen, pantry), Kohler (primary)

Tile: Ann Sacks, Porcelanosa, Daltile

Toilets: TOTO

Wall Ovens: Thermador

Windows: Marvin