Wallflower art installation by Randy Brown Architects. Photo: Bryce Bridges

Wallflower art installation by Randy Brown Architects. Photo: Bryce Bridges

Architect Randy Brown, FAIA, is kicking off the 2015-16 lecture season for the Dallas Architecture Forum.

“Since the Dallas Architecture Forum has members and guests who are not only architects and related professionals, but also the general public, I will overview some of the major projects my firm has done and how they impact and influence the everyday lives of those who live and work in them,” Brown said. “Some of the things I will talk about are how my work is influenced by geography and climate where the projects are located. I will discuss the importance of sustainable design and how I use natural materials in my projects.”

He will be presenting his projects in the larger context of architecture, design, and the environment.

Brown, founder of Omaha-based Randy Brown Architects, will be speaking on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Magnolia Theatre in the West Village. There is a complimentary reception at 6:15 p.m.

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Chris-Craft-House

The Chris Craft House, designed by architect Vince Snyder, at 22 Vanguard Way in Urban Reserve, the brainchild of Dallas developer Diane Cheatham.

Dallas developer Diane Cheatham is a dedicated modernist and committed environmentalist.

As CEO of Urban Edge Developers, Ltd., Cheatham has brought those values to her work in multiple settings, from small infill condos and townhomes that won multiple design awards, to her masterpiece at Urban Reserve, a signature modern neighborhood that uses sustainable features creatively.

Diane Cheatham

Diane Cheatham

It’s a trend she’s happy to say is showing up more in North Texas.

“I see more developers and builders responding to consumer demand by building modern and green,” Cheatham said. “The style is much more accepted in Dallas now, and a growing segment of homebuyers are interested in green building and a more modern aesthetic. I’d like to see more developers thinking out of the box, providing more options at all price levels.”

Cheatham envisions and creates enclaves that are both eco-friendly and people-friendly. At Urban Reserve, for example, a reservoir that gets neighborhood run-off water is used to irrigate common spaces and individual lawns. Every house is required to have LEED-H certification. Her own house at 1 Vanguard Way, which she shares with her husband Chuck, has geothermal heating and cooling, energy-saving windows, and an 18,000-gallon cistern that collects rain runoff from the roof. Homeowners in the community are encouraged “not to do the standard Dallas fences,” and many of the homes feature indoor-outdoor living spaces that encourage interaction with neighbors and passers-by.

These efforts have not gone unnoticed. Urban Reserve has earned multiple recognition and awards, like the 2007 Dallas AIA Excellence in Sustainable Design, 2007 CLIDE Award (Celebrating Leadership in Development Excellence), and a 2009 award from Eco-Structure Magazine, where Urban Reserve was distinguished as one of seven innovative projects.

All this took rule-breaking by Cheatham as she customized street widths to slow traffic, created rain gardens and retention ponds, and made the basic infrastructure and layout of the development conducive to her overall vision.

“It’s taken longer than expected, but there are only six lots of the 50 left and work is proceeding on six homes with eight more in various stages of design,” she said. “The realization of Urban Reserve has been the hardest [of all my projects], and as it nears completion, it is also the most satisfying. Being out there on the cutting edge proved to be more complicated than I anticipated.”

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pet grass

Pet grass is an often-overlooked option for homeowners with four-legged friends, but it offers low maintenance, lower lifetime cost, a lush look year-round, and low water requirements, which is environmentally friendly. Photo: Synthetic Grass Pros

My eleven-pound Maltipoo has a knack for being naughty in the backyard the moment I’m not looking. Last year, she managed to dig a hole almost a foot deep in 20 minutes and was sitting in it, covered in dirt and ecstatic, when I went to check on her.

This story probably sounds familiar to dog owners everywhere, who regularly deal with muddy paws and destructive digging in their backyards. Add this to the ever-present North Texas issues of water restrictions, high maintenance in warm months, ugly brown grass in cold months, and grass allergies, and the yard becomes a pain-in-the-rear.

Enter pet grass, a synthetic alternative that eliminates all of those issues, and you have a beautiful solution.

“Conservation Grass is a terrific solution for pets in that it solves the problems of wear and muddy paws,” said Bryce Bartlett, Director of Sales for of Dallas-based Conservation Grass. “Our business has been growing consistently over the past couple of years as more and more homeowners are realizing the benefits that synthetic grass can provide.”

Pet grass used to have a host of problems, like poor drainage, rubber ingredients that absorbed odor, unrealistic all-green color, and too-short lifespan. But many modern applications have addressed those concerns.

“As with all synthetic grass applications, the base preparation is critical to ensure proper drainage and performance, but when selecting a synthetic pet grass, it is absolutely essential to be sure that the backing us permeable and that the blades are polypropylene,” Bartlett said. “This will ensure that there is no absorption in the grass that would cause odors from pet use. The permeability of our patented backing material allows water and urine to pass through, unlike other brands on the market, which use a black plastic or perforated backing that may trap and create odors.”

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