2019 Homes Tour
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615 Leigh Street

Neighborhood: Lavaca

Architect: Fernando Ortega, AIA

The owner of 615 Leigh, who is also its architect, was ready to begin a new chapter in his life as he approached the age of fifty. He wanted to relocate closer to downtown and build a home that would allow him to live simply, entertain more, and enjoy a stronger connection to exterior space and abundant natural light while maintaining privacy. The opportunity to build on Leigh St. was an ideal location but it also presented a challenge in trying to accomplish all this in a narrow lot about one-sixteenth of an acre.

The challenge was profound and forced the owner/architect to distill the project in order to manage expectations and consequently focus explorations primarily to the flow and layering of space and the character of light. The result is a simple form in metal and natural wood, justified completely to one side of the property to allow natural light to permeate into the resulting narrow courtyard. Large expanses of glass allow the open-plan sequences within to visually extend outdoors to the courtyard and the rooftop deck enhancing the perception of open space. A slender light well introduces natural light from above and softens the light to produce a diffuse glow into the main Living space below, effectively balancing daylight throughout most of the day. RGB LED lighting animates the Light Space at night with a virtually infinite palette of color. The flowing open-plan interiors are intentionally left a neutral white to appreciate the subtle changing character of natural light throughout the day. The exception is the upstairs bath, finished in shades of grey tile to provide a visual respite from natural light.

Sustainable efforts include continuous exterior insulation, performance glazing, vented skylight units to create a stack effect naturally ventilating the house in ideal conditions, low-flow plumbing fixtures, LED lighting throughout, smart controls, FSC-certified engineered wood flooring, and drought-tolerant landscaping.