Pioneering midcentury-modern architect Harwell Hamilton Harris designed only a few Austin residences in his short tenure as dean of the UT architecture school (1952-1955, according to the USModernist website). An acolyte of Richard Neutra, Harris worked on the famed Lovell Health House before starting his own practice and is probably best known for the homes he designed in California—but the quality of his work in Austin is just as appealing and remarkable. The Barrow Residence in Balcones Park is a single-family home, more typical of his work, but he also took an unusual turn with the three-unit Cranfill Apartments, commissioned by a U.T. professor and built in 1959.
Those apartments are now condos, of course, and have been incorporated with a 1930s bungalow (remodeled with interiors by Harris in the 1950s) into what is now a five-unit complex. Tucked away in a quiet, leafy part of West Campus, closer to Shoal Creek than to UT and designed around a courtyard containing a large Live Oak, the building was been well-maintained and retains many of its original features. It’s recognized as a city, state, and national landmark.
This two-story condo in the complex is for sale, but it hasn’t hit the MLS yet. Measuring 858 square feet, it has an open, lofted bedroom that connects visually with the first-floor living area via a two-story glass wall and the masses of bamboo providing privacy from the outside.
Well-preserved features include ergonomic cabinetry, redwood siding, original paint colors, and decorative light fixtures.
The bathroom was recently updated to meet current standards and expectations but is sleek and neutral enough that it doesn’t disrupt the deeply modernist design of the home as a whole.
Harris’s approach combined formal modernist principles with the landscape, climate, and materials of its Central Texas context.
• 1911 Cliff Street, No. 2 [The Value of Architecture]
• Harwell Hamilton Harris, FAIA (1903-1990) [USModernist]