Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Favorite Architect

From a Mexican hacienda to a quaint English cottage, I love architecture.......... I LOVE architecture. It's a passion I was born with, I think. Truly, for as long as I can remember, I have been interested in and drawn to certain styles of homes and buildings.

The style that I have loved and been attracted to my entire life, though - the style that feels like home and makes me smile from within - is that of Texas Modernism.

Texas Modernism refers to a style of design that not only uses materials native to Texas, but also to characteristics indigenous to the region, with roots from early Texas homes. These homes do not have excessive ornamentation, but while simple, are elegant in their design. Much thought is given to the orientation of these houses regarding ventilation and cross breezes, natural light and warmth, as well as cooling shade.

My friend, Jon Pankratz, AIA, comes from a long line of "descendants", if you will, of great Texas modernists. From one of the the most well known Texas architects, O'Neil Ford, to Jon's mentor and close friend, Frank Welch, to having some similarities to San Antonio architects, David Lake and Ted Flato, Jon has developed a style of his own that is both classic and unique.

Jon attended Texas A&M University for both undergraduate and graduate study, receiving his undergraduate degree in Environmental Design and Masters degree in Building Design. He worked for Frank Welch for 15 years before starting his own firm in Dallas in 1994.

I met Jon in 1994 when I drove by a great looking house in Dallas that was under construction - of course, being the house addict that I am, I had to stop and ask for details - and it happened to be his first project "on his own".

The rest is history. Not long after that day I began to refer to Jon as "my favorite architect" and to this day, he remains so.

Jon and his wife, Marilee, moved to Fredericksburg shortly after we did and have become dear friends over the years. I have loved following Jon's work and think it so appropriate to share here. This house is one of his most recent projects and perfectly exemplifies a Texas hill country modern house , built of native limestone and quietly embraced by the surrounding hills.

Although this home can be seen from a distance, it blends in beautifully with the landscape.

Jon's designs stretch from Dallas to Fredericksburg, and beyond into South Texas. His most recent works dot the Texas hill country. He has designed homes and weekend lake houses for friends and friends of friends. His best advertising is word of mouth. While his work is steeped in Texas modernism, it is always unique to each setting and the personality and needs of his clients. I quote the mother of the woman who shares this house with her family - "Jon got it perfect. Every square inch of that house is just right for Carol and her family " - Yep! that would be my favorite architect!

Native limestone, wide covered porches and standing seam metal roofs are classic characteristics of this style. The pool, crisp and clean in design, is a focal point for this home. Not only is it lovely aesthetically, but provides a cool relief from the Texas heat. (If you want to see greater detail, click on the photos. It is worth your time to see more of this stunning house.)

Open air pavilions and loggias are often designed to capture light and warmth from the sun during the winter, and to catch cool breezes and shade in the summer. Inside and outside become one with the use of porches, closely grouped buildings, and courtyards. Jon created a beautiful outdoor space for this family, whether they are enjoying the pool on a hot Texas day or sitting by a fire on a chilly evening.

One of the characteristics of many of Jon's designs are separate spaces that are attached to the main home, but function on their own. I love how the small building is part of the overall design, but distinctively separate from the main house.

Natural materials like brick and wood, and lots of natural light make this loggia classic to Jon's design aesthetic.

A beamed ceiling , more interior brick and hardwood floors make this house perfect for either traditional or contemporary furnishings.

I love the arches over the openings and the use of interior brick throughout the house.

The kitchen is warm and traditional in materials, but contemporary in it's clean lines.

If you are interested in seeing more of Jon's work, or want to contact him, please let me know in the comments section and I will send you his contact information. I do plan to feature more of his designs as well as those of other Texas modernists.


  1. Fantastic post - although I lived in Texas for 7 years, I lived in Houston/Dallas and did not see much of this style. I love learning about new architectural styles!

    I am reminded of some of the homes I saw in Napa and Sonoma - homes that use the natural material of the area and blend seamlessly into their environment.

    I did a post yesterday on a principle from a book called 'A Pattern Language' - the book is about creating buildings and towns that work for modern life and work in their environment. Looking at the pictures of Jon's work, there are so many of these principles that he too follows - buildings that have their own function, but are attached to the house; rooms the flow to and from each other; halls that have windows all along the length of the hall; outdoor spaces that are like rooms, and outdoor spaces that are positive spaces and work seamlessly with the indoor spaces.

    Great post!

  2. Okay, I have serious house-love on this one! Have to ask... where in D. was the first house you saw of his?! Cuz you know I'm thinking it was probably one of my favorites too ;)!
    I'm curious... has Jon ever designed a Maine house... yet?!!!
    Love the post!

  3. Hello and thanks for stopping by my blog! Funny how one blog leads to another...I am a native Texan and you have just listed my dream architects! Nice to know about Jon. He is now on my list. Additionally, I know a San Fran couple who are looking for a builder in Fredricksburg...any suggestions?
    I love fasion, interior design, and all things spiritual. I hope you will keep dropping by henriloves.
    PS. My email is henricoleman@aol.com for builder recs.

  4. Thanks for sharing Jon with us. I love seeing the work of architects, especially Texas architects.

  5. Such a beautiful house! I love the contemporary squared lines of the outdoor pool area! I can see why he is your favourite!

  6. Love this post and what a fabulous house. It fits right into the landscape.

  7. What a wonderful post - I loved reading about this architect and especially since he is a good friend of yours! I'd love to take part in your conversations - they must be wonderful!!!


  8. The open air fire place is wonderful - beautiful work, xv.

  9. I had never heard of Texas Modernism before, so I'm glad to learn all of this! That house and covered porch and pool -- gorgeous. Thanks for telling us about this architect!

  10. What a perfect house for someone who needs a separate art studio! The layout is wonderful, open and airy, and I love that roof. Thanks for sharing! I wish I had seen this before buying in suburbia...

  11. I love the outdoor fireplace and loggia. I am not sure I care for the brick walls indoor though. I am with you though...I love looking at interesting architects.

  12. Interesting post...beautiful home! Love all the light fixtures, the long hall with the nice big windows and all the exposed brick. Thanks for you kind comments! So glad to have found your blog. :-) Susan

  13. What a wonderful and informative post. Thanks for the introduction. Hooked on that open air pavilion -- and the loggia. Love the idea, too, of using materials available to the area. cheers, -s

  14. The open air pavilion is lovely - the view wonderful.

    This is a bit unrelated but I'm going to be touring the Hill Country w/my best friend and her husband for 2 nights/3 days in mid-July. Do you have any suggestions for places to stay in Fredericksburg or things to definitely see? My friend lives in Dallas but hasn't been to this part of TX. Thanks. Michele

  15. What beautiful and interesting work. Thank you for introducing us to John and to Texas Modernism.

  16. What a nice home...I love the use of bricks and wood.

    And the open air pavilion is so awesome.

  17. What an amazing house! I love how open and airy it is. And that pool!!!

  18. I love the clean lines. No fussiness - I like that. You're right that his designs would compliment contemporary of traditional decor. Nice.

  19. Hello, I just found your blog, I am always on the lookout for other Texas bloggers. I have been to the same shop several times, Beadboard Up Country. I live in Jewett which is about 50 miles from Bryan/College Station.
    I am going to put together a list of Texas bloggers.

    Come and visit me.


  20. Dear Anne...

    We would like to get more information about the builder Jon Pankratz, as well as the location of the wonderful home you featured on your blog that he built. We have recently moved to Fredericksburg and we are looking for a builder and property.

    Thank you,




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