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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The Legacy West development in Frisco, designed by Ross Conway and his team at Gensler. All photos and renderings: Ross Conway

The Legacy West development in Frisco, designed by Ross Conway and his team at Gensler. All photos and renderings: Ross Conway

In 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).

Ross Conway

Ross Conway

Ross Conway, AIA, LEED AP, is Senior Associate and Design Director in the Lifestyle Studio at Gensler’s Dallas offices, where he has worked for almost 14 years.

His portfolio includes big names like the Dallas Cowboys Headquarters (The Star) in Frisco, the Legacy West addition in Frisco, Preston Hollow Village, The Shops at Park Lane, The Gate in Frisco, The Music Factory in Irving, and the Brazos Riverfront in Waco.

One of his current tasks is the $100-million Bishop Arts redevelopment in North Oak Cliff, an enterprise he calls “a once-in-a-career project for me.”

Conway grew up in Arlington and earned a Masters degree in Architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington. He and his wife recently built a house in Urban Reserve, a Lake Highlands neighborhood of 50 modern, single-family homes, designed by a select group of regionally and nationally recognized architects, including Evan Beattie, the first person we interviewed for this series. He’s also on the architectural review committee there.

CandysDirt: Where are you with the Bishop Arts redevelopment?

Ross Conway: We will finish the design in next few months, and [developer] Exxir Capital wants to start construction in August for phase one. We want to gradually grow it over a two-year process, getting it built out to let people get used to it, and to take into consideration people’s concerns.

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