alicia quintansIn our ongoing series, Interview with an Architect, we speak with leading voices in the North Texas architecture community and learn about their work, development issues in our community, and good design practices and principals (you can read the last one here).

Alicia Quintans

Alicia Chandler Quintans, AIA

Alicia Chandler Quintans, AIA, is an Oak Cliff-based architect, interior designer, and preservationist. She founded JQAQ Atelier in 2012, a small design firm focused on solving modern design challenges for residential and commercial projects.

She graduated from UT Arlington School of Architecture in 1991, where she met her husband Joel, a collaborative partner for JQAQ Atelier and the Creative Director for UTA.

The summer after graduating, they stayed at a professor friend’s home in Oak Cliff, and fell in love with this southern borough of Dallas. The couple found a small, 1947 minimal traditional house in Beckley Club Estates.

“After almost 25 years, the house has transformed into a laboratory for ideas,” Quintans said. “We’ve updated the kitchen and bath, installed energy-efficient features, and added a studio on the property to serve as a workshop and guesthouse. The property evolves to suit our needs and interests.”

She’s a board member of both Old Oak Cliff Conservation League and Preservation Dallas, actively assisting in educating and strengthening historic connections between local communities, neighborhoods, and the built environment.

“By learning the history and sharing stories of collective memory, we better understand the sense of place in our community and provide an emotional connection, represented in form by our built environment,” she said.

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Yes, there’s a house behind those overgrown bushes at 1231 Walter Drive. (Photos: Jo England)

On the other side of Fort Worth Avenue, just off of W. Colorado Blvd. is a quiet enclave of 176 homes called Stevens Park Village. The North Oak Cliff neighborhood, first developed by Annie Stevens between 1939 and 1941, feels homey and quaint, full of Austin stone Prairie-style cottages — even a few Dilbecks! – and bungalows with neat lawns and groomed hedges.

The homes are all sturdy, set upon the meandering tree-lined streets of the neighborhood. Though Cliff Manor Apartments, a public housing project, is just down Fort Worth Avenue from Stevens Park Village, there’s not much traffic and very little crime. It’s idyllic and charming with greenbelts and friendly neighbors.

But there’s one home that didn’t look tidy or loved, with overgrown hedges and peeling paint masking the rotted window frames. That’s the home that Donovan Westover fell in love with.

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One of the many houses in the Swiss Avenue Historic District. Photo: Swiss Avenue Historic District

One of the many architecturally significant houses in the Swiss Avenue Historic District. Photo: Swiss Avenue Historic District

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the preservation climate in Dallas was almost nonexistent. Historic buildings were routinely razed on a whim and the city lost quite a few prominent structures, like the Commonwealth National Bank in 1969, the Melba Theater around 1971, the Southland Hotel in 1971, and the Hotel Jefferson in 1975.

The Swiss Avenue area, now one of Dallas’ most treasured neighborhoods, was almost destroyed by high-rise development and disinvestment. But in 1973, homeowners banded together to protect the area and through historic district status and many years of investment by property owners, created the first historic district in Dallas, and what is now the “crown jewel of East Dallas.”

The Swiss Avenue Historic District is truly a success story and one that blazed a trail for other future historic districts in Dallas to follow,” said David Preziosi, Executive Director of Preservation Dallas. “It stands as the finest example of an early 20th-century planned neighborhood with an eclectic mix of houses representing virtually every popular residential design style of the day.”

Those efforts, along with 12 projects, organizations, and individuals, were recently honored at Preservation Dallas’ 16th annual Preservation Achievement Awards. The awards recognize the most outstanding developments in historic preservation and individuals or groups who are committed to preserving Dallas’ history. They help continue the organization’s efforts to educate and advocate for the preservation and revitalization of the city’s significant historic buildings and places.

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