Arriving from the noted New York firm of Harrie Lindeberg, John Staub established himself as the architect of choice in the wealthy Houston neighborhood of River Oaks. In the early 1940’s Staub was commissioned by Charles and Berenice Urschel (Mrs. Urschel being the widow of the famous Texan Tom Slick) to design a home for their San Antonio estate, Magnolia Hill. Designed to recall Villa Godi, the home was not constructed until 1951. In the 1980’s the property was purchased, subdivided, and demolition on the Villa was begun. After much of the home was demolished, the property was bought from the troubled developer and the remaining portion was reconstituted into a livable home, a shadow of its former existence.
In an effort to re-establish a portion of the former estate of Magnolia Hill, the property was re-acquired and the occupying home demolished. Although not enough property was available to restore the home to John Staub’s original vision, space now allowed for expansion of the grounds to a new structure, The Casino - providing for casual living by the pool, additional bedrooms, a game room, catering kitchen, and an underground garage and workshop. The Casino was designed as the focal point of the new grounds and garden, and as a petite reflection of Staub’s original Palladian design.
Bonefish lodge was designed as the fishing haven on the Bahamian Island of Long Island. The residence takes its cues from the historic architecture of this onetime British outpost in the Caribbean that straddles the tropic of Cancer. Cool white plaster walls are accented by cerulean blue shutters, reflecting age-old island traditions. Nested in white dunes overlooking the crystal blue waters of the bay and built of hurricane-hardened construction, the home is intended to withstand the harsh hurricanes known to visit the archipelago.
This Gothic-inspired design for a minor seminary is currently being developed for the Diocese of Charlotte in North Carolina. Tucked into a wooded corner of Belmont Abbey College near Charlotte, the seminary will not only provide a place for men to discern the priesthood but also encourage theological and philosophical thinking. The seminary is split into three different zones with the chapel and residence wing acting as 'bookends' to the academic and administration building. Two enclosed courtyards within provide opportunities for quiet prayer and reflection. The layout of the chapel is similar to that of a cloistered monastery; there is a section with pews for the faithful community, another section with choir stalls for the seminarians, and a rood screen separating the seminarians from the laity. The colored light entering through the stained glass windows and the layering of spaces through a series of arches creates a sense of mystery in the chapel. The architecture will consist of local materials, including brick with stone detailing.
Overlooking the grassy plain of the Colorado River, River Ranch anchors a glen of ancient sycamores. Broad porches shade stone pavilions strung along a ridge. Simple white trim accents rustic Texas stone, recalling early farmhouses of Texas. A family home, a master pavilion anchors the house and brackets several children's bedrooms with the broadside of the living room. Living areas are spacious, open and relaxed for casual, if not rambunctious, family living.
Woodside Equestrian Estate
Occupying 11 acres south of San Francisco in the village of Woodside, well known in the Silicon Valley as a horse town, this large estate is designed for riding and entertaining. An existing stable designed by architect George Washington Smith’s protégé, Floyd Brewster, occupies the site as the last of the remaining structures of the once sprawling Jackling Estate designed by G.W. Smith. The addition of new apartments to the renovated stables anchored the new development of the site to the main estate residence. The pool house, sited at the top of a grassy slope, looks out over the agrarian landscape toward a separate compound of stone structures designed for guests.
MGIA is known widely for the design of large idyllic estates throughout the country, including places with complicated design criteria such as San Francisco and Aspen. Edgecliff Villa is a current example of one such project with a challenging set of circumstances. Located on the ocean in Montecito, California, MGIA was not only required to meet the unique aesthetic requirements of an international client, but also to meet the demands of complex rules, regulations and requests of state and county agencies, as well as local review boards. MGIA’s success in understanding multiple layers of codes and regulations, as well as working with local consultants, boards, agencies and citizens to present architecture that reinforces the local community’s values has become a hallmark of the firm.
Rancho Sabino Grande
Set within the rare and beautiful riparian valley of the gin-clear Sabinal river west of San Antonio, this large ranch headquarters occupies a bluff overlooking a meadow lake, the twisting cypress line of the Sabinal river and the dramatic crests of the Hill Country. The construction of the ranch residence is of solid masonry in keeping with the owners' desire for a structure built to last generations. Exterior walls are of white plaster and traditional lime wash over stone and roofed with a soft colored flat terracotta tile, wood shingles and traditional thatching. Interiors are finished with premium woods such as cypress, pecan and oak, harvested and milled on the ranch property.
Texas Hill Country vegetation
Michael G. Imber sketching the Sabinal landscape
Wood is to be reclaimed from the Ranch property
Comanche Hill Ranch
Comanche Hills Ranch takes its name from it location among the scrub oak and plains of what was once the heart of Comancheria, the Indian nation that occupied much of Texas. Aptly, the aesthetic precedents of this ranch headquarters are the frontier forts built after the Civil War to help make the Texas Hill Country safer. Lime washed stone walls and a wood shingle roof give the residence a striking repose among the gentle grassy hills.
Phi Mu Sorority House on the Campus of the University of Arkansas
On the boards for Phi Mu Sorority at the University of Arkansas, this sorority house was influenced by neoclassical architecture in Britain and America. Located centrally along the main avenue of Greek housing, it will serve as a beautiful and durable home to its residents, helping to promote the organization’s mission of vibrant living.