Functional & Sensitive

One of a Kind

Words by Jess Hagemann  Photos by Jose Minguell  Portraits by Parker Thornton

They’re spouses, business partners, and classically-trained architects—and amazingly, after nine months spent building, outfitting, and landscaping the house they designed together, they’re still talking to each other!

Jose Minguell and Laura McQuary are the brainchildren behind east Austin’s newest stunning abode. The house with the black metal exterior and all those windows at the corner of quiet Walnut and bustling East 12th is attractively situated across from Rosewood Park. Stepped terraces of no-hassle xeric landscaping, offset by raw steel dividers and clean black rock, create a natural and inviting path beneath the home’s cantilevered living area and up a short wooden staircase. The stairs lead to a private patio—shady, cool, and large enough for outdoor entertaining—which in turn funnels into the 3-bedroom, 3-bath, 2300 square foot home.

The duo describe the exterior vibe as an “urban streetscape” specifically crafted for “today’s Austin: a city that is very active and connected.” Instead of the traditional “front yard, house, back yard,” where residents are fenced off from their neighbors and outdoor spaces are underutilized, Jose and Laura envisioned a more “functional” design that is “not so cookie-cutter,” but embraces Lady Bird Lake and our countless parks as our communal backyard.

They’re also sensitive to the unique character of east Austin, and the threat that gentrification poses to this historic district. Jose adds, “A lot of developers come in here, buy up property, build something low-budget, and sell it for a high return. The quality is poor:  that doesn’t contribute to the neighborhood.” Jose and Laura aim to see more “design-oriented development” that maintains the eastside’s “socially-varied environment.”

“We’re providing something a bit more modern and contemporary than the typical eastside bungalow,” says Laura, “but something that blends in with it, relates to it somehow.” The cedar cladding on the house at 2700 East 12th is accordingly whitewashed to match with the “weathered, comfortable” feel of the neighborhood. The patio is private but open and neighborly. Given these thoughtful touches, people often mistake Minguell-McQuary’s new builds for renovations (a compliment!).

When it came to designing the interior spaces, Jose and Laura took a page from French-Swiss modernist architect Le Corbusier. The flexible two-story floor plan with tons of hidden pocket doors allows residents to segment rooms at will, creating guest rooms or offices as needed, with the option to keep all the doors open to “maintain flow.” As Laura says, these are “usable spaces, not just checked-off environments.” Natural light suffuses the white-oak flooring (finished on-site for a “raw” look) and glints off the polished concrete kitchen floor, ground down to expose the aggregate for added visual texture.

As Jose explains, “Usually, architects just design the house and somebody else builds it; but we decided to basically become general contractors, too.” Doing so has allowed the firm of Minguell-McQuary Architecture and Design, in operation since 2009, to create spec homes that aren’t limited in design by the abilities of other builders, while also keeping costs down.

“It’s not a house for just anyone,” Jose adds, citing first the price point and second, how the future residents would need to “appreciate the architecture as well as the neighborhood.” They await someone who feels “this is the right house in the right place.”

Did You Know?

Throughout the design and construction process, finding sustainable or environmentally friendly options are essential to this duo. From the way the house sits on the site to the mechanical systems and from the finishes and materials to recycling of debris throughout construction are all elements that attest to their commitment of creating a sustainable home.

This thoughtfully designed house at 2700 E. 12th Street is on the market and is available for showings now.

702 San Antonio St.

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