Dallas Architecture Forum Features Architect of Controversial Highland Park Box House on Mockingbird

Mockingbird June 4

Last night was Dallas Architecture Forum’s “Inside The Box” Modern Living 365 cocktail reception at the Russell Buchanan-designed Mockingbird house. As we previously reported, this structure caused some chafing with nearby residents in Highland Park who weren’t so keen on the house’s angular structure.

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Well, let me tell you — this home may not blend in with Highland Park’s stately brick and stone manors, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful or remarkable. It was fantastic to hear Buchanan’s explanation of the design and creation of this amazing structure, which was compared to, essentially, “a refrigerator box.” If you’re just now tuning in, this house was constructed using steel beams and pre-fabricated, two-inch foam-insulated aluminum panels, making it one very long rectangle.

The angular, spare nature of the home’s exterior really emphasizes the materials used. Everything was designed, cut, and manufactured specifically for this home, especially the Metl-Span jacket, sourced in our very own Lewisville. The panels, which look the same on both sides, lend to the industrial feel of the home, which is echoed in the finishes and furniture. Truly, much of the interior finish-out feels more streamlined and commercial than residential.

Buchanan said that the structure took 11 months to build, and that when the aluminum cladding was one of the final steps in preliminary construction. “When they’re in, it’s finished,” he added, which is very much unlike traditional construction where the exterior walls are constructed first, and the interior is then addressed.

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Inside, the home feels very much like a souped-up shipping container, save for the gorgeous Douglas fir rafters, rich stone surfaces, and glass wall spanning the entire length of the first floor. Speaking of finishes, the house has an amazing array of stone inside. The entry vestibule is golden onyx, the kitchen counters are “Syrah” granite and “Aston White” quartz, there’s Brazilian “Arabescato” marble in the master bath, “Xango Red” quartz covering the staircase, and “Breccia Imperial” leathered granite topping the Buchanan-designed dining table. A very bold mix, if I may say.

IMG_1175As Buchanan explained, the paneling and glass walls don’t allow conduit to run inside, so the floorplan was developed with access to power and plumbing in mind. And the floor-to-ceiling windows downstairs feature an exterior camouflage curtain that screens the living space from the owners’ easterly neighbors, who have a birds-eye view into the first floor. This is a house where performing the trademark scene from “Risky Business” would be ill advised.

Still, it feels strangely private. That’s probably because the walls also act as a sound dampener, a plus, especially given the high-traffic location of the home — right off of a major two-lane thoroughfare. In fact, this home’s design and its owners’ wishes resulted in a lot of innovation from Buchanan, who said that “this is not a conventional structure.”

We definitely agree with that!

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