Amidst the buzz and vibrant blossoming of Austin’s East Side, the work of husband and wife team Minguell-McQuary is exceptional. As a Broker-Associate with Maxavenue, I specialize in East Austin real estate and am delighted by the caliber of luxury these two are bringing to the East Side.
This design duo understands that architecture originates in the realm of fantasy but lives in reality. So instead of designing contemporary structures that exist in spite of the everyday needs of the modern family, they design contemporary architecture that compliments those needs.
Laura McQuary is a UT-educated architect who has worked on projects around the world as a part of internationally and nationally acclaimed teams in Germany, Spain, San Antonio and Austin. Her husband, Jose Minguell, studied at Unversidad Catolica de Chile and The University of Texas at Austin, and has had his work featured in The Texas A&M Bonfire Competition, The International Tree House Competition, DWR Furniture Display show, Tree House in Paradise, and Coney Island, The Parachute Pavilion Competition.
A Creative Challenge
“What attracted us to the East Side is the fabric of the neighborhood…the lots are close together and rectangular, so it’s a challenge to make them work well together,” says Minguell.
When you hear a master of their craft use the word “challenge,” get ready to witness the product of their genius. With a toolbox of light and spatial ratios, Minguell-McQuary have designed rooms that become havens, vantage points, openings and enclosures for activity or reflection.
Jose notes, “Many times you see high-end design architects designing these huge houses on very big lots…So how do you design here? What do you do so that you don’t stick out and you fit in, but that you’re adding to the neighborhood in value, and not just for the developer? So from a design point of view, that’s very interesting.”
Good Things Come in Threes
In the architect’s view, modern urban in-fill construction often gives homes a “pug-nose approach” to the environment around it; abrupt beginnings and ends that have difficulty mediating the space in which the home interacts with its surroundings. So the first of the three custom homes they planned for the Chestnut neighborhood aimed at redefining the “nostalgic, postcard approach” to residential real estate by re-evaluating typical curb-appeal elements like the front yard, the picket fence, and the block-front park and approach. Those risks were rewarded with recognition as a juried finalist in the 2015 AIA tour.
Redefining Urban Style
Exterior curtains line the outside of the cedar deck—not the interior window—that faces 12th Street. The deck acts as a threshold between the busy street and the home, blending public and private spaces. They also understand Texas weather, creating a deck that’s not just suitable for seeking shelter from the weather, but for enjoying it.
Although Minguell-McQuary consider themselves contemporary in style, they have no problem designing homes that fit into the mid-century urban landscape while redefining what that is at the same time. “The density of this neighborhood is very attractive.” says Minguell. “It’s not like suburbia where you have an acre lot and a long driveway and never see your neighbor. As architects, we like the mix of people; different backgrounds, different struggles.”
A Lot the Size of Austin
This latest venture is a wholly unique custom home at 2700 East 12th Street in the Chestnut section of East Austin that aims to bring urban life into public space. A floor-to-ceiling window wall that wraps around two sides of the house blurs the line between inside and outside, giving you a breathtaking view of Texas sunrises from the comfort of your couch.
“I think what we are trying to do is say, ‘Your lot is the size of Austin. It’s all of Austin. Your house just happens to sit [right] here.’” Since the home sits just a half-mile from the MLK MetroRail station and a 7-minute drive to the private jetway at Austin Bergstrom International Airport, you may just feel like you have the whole city at your doorstep.
Interacting with Light and Sound
Minguell-McQuary designs are meant to compliment the environment around them, not compete with it. The foundation at 2700 East 12th Street is multi-leveled because it’s on a slope. The first floor of the home takes full advantage of this site element with levels that sweep from a cozy space in the kitchen, to a slightly more open dining space, to a beautifully open living room that appears to float within the corner.
The light and flow of the space are made for entertaining and enjoying. “Our spaces are designed three-dimensionally, not just in plan,” says Laura McQuary. “We explore the connections of spaces horizontally and vertically. There are so many interactions of light and sound that happen vertically and help create a sense of the space.” A third home concept is in the works, and promises to be as brilliant and at home in this unique part of Austin as the first two.
A Sanctuary with Urban Access
These properties at East 12th Street are a unique opportunity to own a sanctuary nestled peacefully, beautifully, in urban East Austin environment with the pulse of a creative, blossoming community in full view.
I’ve lived in Austin since 1995, and Austin is a smart city that still has a relaxed lifestyle, which makes it hugely attractive to large numbers of people. That’s one reason I believe the area will continue to grow for years to come.
If you’d like a showing of 2700 East 12th Street or want to know what’s in store for Minguell-McQuary’s next residential project, call Danielle Becker at 512-599-8751.