collaborative designworks, houston

James M. Evans, AIA, never set out to be a developer. But when the Houston-based architect and his wife, Catherine, couldn't find a house that appealed to them, he decided the only way to get what they wanted was to create it himself. So he bought a piece of land just outside the city's Midtown area and designed four three-story townhomes. One unit serves as a live/work space for the Evanses, while the others were snapped up by buyers looking for modern, urban dwellings.

His efforts to infuse the units with light while maintaining privacy caught the jury's attention. “There's not a single view from one unit into another,” marveled one judge. The driveway doubles as a light-capturing courtyard. A second-story corner of each unit is turned at a slight angle to the otherwise boxy plan, offering yet another entry point for natural light. “The rotation in plan opens up the locations where you can put windows,” Evans explains. “It was a simple idea that started to inform the massing and interior layout as well.”

The project also helped get Evans' fledgling firm going: he's now designing a number of similar projects, mostly for outside developers.

principal in charge / project architect: James M. Evans, AIA, Collaborative Designworks
developer: James M. Evans, AIA, Evans Family Development, Houston
general contractor: Eimar Virkus, Virkus Construction, Houston
project size: 2,900 square feet per unit
site size: 0.22 acre
construction cost: $98 per square foot
sales price: $435,000 to $450,000 per unit
units in project: 4
photography: Aker/Zvonkovic Photography, except where noted