Two trees were saved allowing shade for second-floor patios.

Two trees were saved allowing shade for second-floor patios.


Two trees were saved allowing shade for second-floor patios.

Mount Vernon TH, Houston

  • Two trees were saved allowing shade for second-floor patios.

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    Two trees were saved allowing shade for second-floor patios.

    Two trees were saved allowing shade for second-floor patios.
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    Houston's Mt. Vernon multi-family project demonstrates how high design can squeeze into small spaces.

    Houston's Mt. Vernon multi-family project demonstrates how high design can squeeze into small spaces.
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    A succession of rectangular forms give interest and diversity to the exterior.

    A succession of rectangular forms give interest and diversity to the exterior.
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    A courtyard on the front side of the building creates a buffer for neighbors.

    A courtyard on the front side of the building creates a buffer for neighbors.
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    Kitchens tuck into long walls, almost camoflaged into the decor.

    Kitchens tuck into long walls, almost camoflaged into the decor.
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    Interiors are open and mult-functional

    Interiors are open and mult-functional
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    Interiors are sleek and white.

    Interiors are sleek and white.
The alley was key to squeezing three, three-story attached homes onto a 0.14-acre postage-stamp-sized Houston infill lot, says architect James M. Evans of Collaborative Designworks. That allowed the units’ car needs to be in the back, leaving the front as a shared courtyard space and creating a buffer between near neighbors.

Evans found other more private spaces for residents to enjoy the outdoors via outdoor terraces on the second floors, reminiscent of those found in Pueblo dwellings, except these are shaded by an oak tree.

The form of the building, with its succession of rectangular elevations, is also reminiscent of pueblos, only these are made from concrete, some painted white and the rest left in its natural gray state. Redwood, used both horizontally and vertically as a rainscreen on some parts of the building, warms the look and softens the hard edges.

The units—built within a 10-minute drive of downtown Houston, the Medical Center, and the Galleria mall—sold within a few months for $700,000 to $725,000. They range from 2,375 to 2,562 square feet.

“This was actually designed almost five years ago,” says Evans. “But it was put on hold for three [years]. It was nice to be able to finish this.”


On Site

Mount Vernon TH is a study in how to warm and soften contemporary architecture for the masses. Bright white-painted rectilinear forms have gray counterpoints, muting the starkness of all white. And redwood rainscreens offer a touch of warm organic brown, echoing the tree canopy spared during construction. The window shapes, different for every rectangle, provide a touch of whimsy, giving the structure a friendlier face.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Houston, TX.