Last Dollar Ranch
Set in one of America’s most iconic landscapes, the Lodge at the Last Dollar Ranch is nestled on a hillside within perhaps the most important landscape known to form the image of the rugged American West. The combined ranches of the Last Dollar Ranch and the True Grit Ranch have served as the backdrop for both the famous Marlboro man and the Budweiser Clydesdale ads, as well as served as the film set for John Wayne’s character Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.
It was critical that the architecture of the ranch house be both respectful to the landscape and history, yet hold it’s own in the shadow of the dramatic Dallas Mountain Range. Rugged stone and large antique timber beams recall the striking architecture of the National Park lodges of the turn of the century, while the house employs modern features, such as board-formed concrete and immense retractable windows.
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.
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.