“We’ve actually had people stop at our house and ask if it was a Frank Lloyd Wright,” laugh the homeowners. But those looking to rub elbows with the contemporary master responsible for their glass jewel box in Preston Hollow would do better to knock on the door of Dallas architect Michael Malone. While the home’s structural steel frame and massive glass expanses are certainly reminiscent of one of architecture’s favorite sons, it was Malone who balanced all of the residence’s modern elements with its uniquely shaped site and the homeowners’ serenity-seeking, private personas. “It’s everything we wanted in a house,” the couple gushes. “We didn’t have a clear picture going into this, but thanks to Michael’s insight and his taking our input into consideration, it turned into something far beyond our expectations.”
That’s no small commendation coming from homeowners who originally had no intention of building a new home. At first, they were simply looking to add an extension onto their existing 1970s contemporary on the other side of town—a move their real estate broker advised against and that would eventually lead them to an unusual acre-and-a-half lot. “The site had never been built on before,” says Malone. “It sat for probably close to 18 years as a blank field with nothing but weeds growing on it.” The house that would eventually rise like a phoenix out of the long, narrow plot that drops down to a creek, takes full advantage of its positioning, with window walls that face north to avoid the heat of direct sunlight and a 2,400-square-foot, infinity-edge pool that acts as a focal point, grounding the entire design.
“The most theatrical part of the house is the pool,” says Malone. “A lot of negative-edge pools drop off on one side, but in this one, all three do; it took some very delicate engineering.” To capitalize on the pool’s dramatic impact, Malone also floated the dining area out over the water, creating a room-as-peninsula, with 180-degree views of the surroundings. And while the exacting nature of the architecture provided some challenges along the way, they were challenges home builder Bill Manning, of Dallas’ Manning Snelling & McIlyer General Contractors, was happy to take on. “Steel framing is always a little hard to work with; there’s no tolerance with reveals. Everything has to line up and be super straight,” Manning says. “But I’m glad I got to be a part of it. The project really stands out as one of the best-designed contemporaries in the city.”
Though the pool and its jutting, glass-encased peninsula make quite a formidable statement at the rear of the house, Malone deferred to the homeowners’ shared love of privacy by ensuring the structure remain relatively unassuming from the street. “I wanted it to be reflective of their lifestyle,” the architect explains. “I didn’t want a big, sweeping front or a giant, two-story stair. It’s modest and unpretentious and that worked well, because now, when you walk in, you don’t know what to expect and it takes your breath away.”
That element of the unexpected is what continues to endear the couple to their modern gem. “When you walk in, you’re in an anteroom with a relatively low ceiling, but then you open a sliding door and the ceiling expands to 20 feet, and you’re hit with a wall of glass from the right; all of a sudden, you’re in the middle of this stunning, almost shockingly extravagant scene,” the homeowners smile. “We love it. It’s like a surprise every time we come home.”