It’s impossible to drive down Armstrong Parkway and overlook this Highland Park contemporary. This street is one of the best known in the city, and it’s full of beautiful homes, but 3710 Armstrong Avenue is different. It’s a dramatic departure from the typical house you’ll find on this street, and it has certainly captivated me since the day architect Dan Shipley finished it in 2000.
“The idea was to build a modern house that was respectful of the neighborhood, a house that could take its place among the gracious old houses that lined that portion of Armstrong Avenue,” Shipley said. A lot of those graceful homes have bitten the dust, unfortunately, yet this Highland Park contemporary has stood the test of time. That’s a testament to Shipley’s architectural skills.
“Dan is an organic thinker,” Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s listing agent Susan Baldwin said. “The house was designed to recede on the lot and into nature.” Shipley designed it to allow a framed view of the landscape out of every window. If you are wondering about the striking stone wall in front of the house, that is an example of the framing concept.
“That stone wall is an architectural detail that creates a framed view of nature from the study,” Baldwin said. “It is like a picture frame from the inside out, and it also offers a great deal of privacy.”
Shipley works with the land, not against it. It’s one of his many distinguishing traits.
“The trees were big players in the design of the house,” Shipley said. “The form of the house was designed to fit under the tree canopies as if the trees came after the house, not the other way around. Then the floor plan was organized as appendages that fit among the trees.”
The 5,090-square-foot Highland Park contemporary was originally built for an artist, so copious light was essential. There are enormous steel windows throughout the home. “It’s bathed in light,” Baldwin said.
There are four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a powder bath on a 300-foot-deep, half-acre lot. Collins Interiors recently updated the home, and the kitchen has to number among my all-time favorite renovations. You can’t go wrong with Calacatta marble and plenty of prep space.
The bedrooms are located upstairs, along with a family den, which is so much more relevant today than a media room. Besides, with those tree-top views, who needs a giant screen?
That deep lot provides an enormous amount of space for entertaining family and friends. With a pool, patio, and screened-in outdoor room, as well as a separate guest quarters above the garage, no detail has been overlooked.
Let’s get back to that screened room. Shipley calls it the Bug Shelter. “It’s like a kid’s bug box except it’s people who are on the inside,” Shipley said. The present owners use the screened room for outdoor dining, but the possibilities are endless. Throw a couple of sleeping bags inside, and it’s perfect for kid’s sleepovers!
Highland Park is coveted as an area where people visibly enjoy the neighborhood. You see kids on bikes, people walking dogs, and jogging over to the Katy Trail — which is mere steps away. There are beautiful public parks, tennis courts, neighborhood pools, and of course the exemplary school system.
“The house has such a peaceful serenity to it, inside and out,” Baldwin said. “And you’re are in the heart of everything!”
Baldwin has this dramatic Highland Park contemporary listed for $4.9 million.
Karen Eubank is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager for more than 25 years. She’s been a professional writer for 20 years. Karen is the mother of a son who’s studying music at The University of Miami. An ardent animal lover, she doesn’t mind one bit if your fur baby jumps right into her lap. Find Karen at www.eubankstaging.com