The homeowners had a combined appreciation for contemporary design and architecture greats such as Wright and his apprentice, Fay Jones, but weren’t finding anything they loved in the San Antonio market. Builder Kevin FitzGerald, who worked with the couple with the goal of “recreating the look and feel of a Frank Lloyd Wright home with modern amenities” knew the perfect architect for the job.
“At M&F we don’t have an in-house architect,” FitzGerald says. “The primary reason is because we feel certain architects do certain styles well. Upon learning that the clients wanted to draw inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in Chicago, I immediately thought of Brantley Hightower with HiWorks because of his attention to detail and affinity for this type of work.”
Hightower, who is a fan of Wright’s work himself, was able to visit many of the architect’s buildings while living and working in Chicago, even giving tours of the iconic Robie House. Upon the third or fourth meeting with the clients, he printed a 3D-version of the Robie House to use for inspiration, a detail FitzGerald says, “gave them the ability to discuss and design details for each room that most likely would’ve been missed if we were just going by the plans.”
“How we treated the ceiling in the living room draws some inspiration from the second-floor living room of the Robie House,” Hightower says. “Additionally, the overall plan of the house, where its various arms pinwheel out from a central core, can be seen in a number of Wright houses like Wingspread near Racine, Wisconsin, and the low-sloping, overhanging roof that appears to float over two-tone stucco walls was inspired by the Willits House in Chicago’s Highland Park.”
Furthermore, the team played with the interior spaces and kept the ceiling low in the entryway to make the main living area seem that much larger. The kitchen is another showstopper in the house, featuring a beamed ceiling, sleek slab countertops and wooden cabinetry which matches the rest of the wood trim used throughout the house.
The 3,600-square-foot, two-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom home was just as much a collaboration between the homeowners, Hightower and FitzGerald as it was paying respect to one of the most “studied and timeless American architects of the past century,” FitzGerald says. And because the clients had a clear vision in mind, it made the entire process from designing the original schematics to developing the set of drawings for the contractor, which Hightower completed alongside his associate, Betsy Johnson, to completing the build that much smoother.
“So often I meet with clients who are as interested in designing a house that will resell as they are in designing a house that actually fits and addresses their needs,” Hightower says. “One of the things I really appreciated about working with this particular client is that they were very clear about what they wanted.”
In addition to building a house that would resemble one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s, it was very important for the homeowners to choose a design that would celebrate the 360-degree views, the reason they purchased the lot to begin with. The home, which sits between a hill to the south, a valley to the north and neighboring houses to the west, feels open and airy, but still offers a sense of privacy. Upon walking up the driveway, the home’s grand scale nearly blocks the views from site, but once guests step inside, the panoramic countryside reveals itself — one of the details Hightower loves most about the home.
Once it was time to start building, FitzGerald and his team of contractors were able to complete the house on the hill in just 12 months, from the time permits were approved to the final stone was laid.
Now, the attention-grabbing home is equal parts an architectural gem as it is a serene country home. And due to the hard work of both Hightower and FitzGerald, the couple’s Frank Lloyd Wright dreams are have now come to life.
210-364-8139 | www.hi.works
BUILDER Mattern & FitzGerald Custom Builders
210-764-7373 | www.matternandfitzgerald.com