News Flash – Facebook is the Winner!

August 21st, 2014

As it has turned out, we do most of our posting on our Facebook account, so we’re going to officially stop trying to do alternating or parallel posts, and just post on our Facebook page from here on.  Nevertheless, we’ll leave these posts here for those who may find them useful in the future.

Come see us here! article on modern houses

November 25th, 2012

The following article appeared on It’s title is something like the 10 iconic modern houses you should know.

It has a quick photo and explanation of – as it says – the iconic modern houses of the past century plus a few years  – from the Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House in Chicago (noticeably skipping the popular favorite, Fallingwater in Pennsylvania) to Le Corbusier’s (are they still teaching architecture as though he invented the subject, I wonder?) Villa Savoye in France.  Greene & Greene’s Gamble House (1909) remains as timeless as when it was first built.

One surprise (for me, at least) was the Schroder House in Utrecth, Netherlands.  I had never seen it before but am encouraged by it on a project we have on the boards right now.  We have been working with a client whose choices had made me think we should model their home after a Mondrian painting – mostly white with some strong vertical and horizontal elements in an outspoken black and some geometric splashes of primary colors.  As soon as I saw this home I thought its designer might have been thinking of Mondrian, too.  (I guess I can’t say “too” since its architect did it first referring to the movement as De Stijl (“the style”) many years ago.)

Anyway, if you have time this Thanksgiving weekend, take a look at this article.  It will remind you who the architects were and which homes are considered icons of the modern home movement we see having a resurgence today.  It’s interesting that the last line speaks to the difficulty of living in a modern home.  Hopefully this time around we will find comfort and boldness in the same designs!


Book, The Architecture of Happiness

September 15th, 2012

I’m reading the book, “The Architecture of Happiness” by Alain de Botton. The book itself is a work of verbal aesthetics the likes of which one seldom sees these days. The author’s vocabulary is prodigious, but a few trips to the dictionary are worth it. His writing is lucious and his topic very dear to my heart. He describes a philosophy that I hope our work embodies but that I have never said so eloquently as he does in this delightful book. Here is a quote that, without preface or substantiation (i.e. taken out of context) doesn’t do the concept justice. But, still I’d like to share it with you. He says:

“…at its most genuine, the architectural impulse seems connected to a longing for communication and commemoration, a longing to declare ourselves to the world through a register other than words, through the language of objects, colours and bricks: an ambition to let others know who we are – and, in the process, to remind ourselves.”

I take it from this quote that “we” refers to those who commission the design – the owners of the homes or buildings. And, I take those of us who design them to be servants in that process. It is our job to help you to build a structure that let’s the world know who YOU are and to remind you who you would like to be when all the compromises and tribulations of the day are washed away.

Badly summarized, what I understand so far of what he is telling us includes a concept that we build our buildings to be beautiful for many reasons but one of them is that, by being in the spaces we create we are reminded of ideals we care about. We’re made happy or generous or open or the antithesis – crabby, stingy and closed minded – by the spaces we choose to build and occupy.

Let’s build some happy, open spaces that elevate the spirits and soothe the soul!

Internet plan sales

June 12th, 2012

As you know, we have dabbled in Internet plan sales the last couple of years and had some success publishing through Hanley Wood’s web and print based plan sales media. (Hanley Wood is the publisher of Residential Architect, Builder Magazine, Custom Home Magazine and a number of plan sales magazines.) One of our homes was their best seller in the Southwestern part of the country.

Today I was notified that another home which we designed for a friend and client who agreed to have their home published (but which we won’t sell locally for obvious reasons) will be the “Plan of the Week” on as House Plan # DHSW075779
According to the publisher it will be distributed to 75,000 “registered users”. Power of the internet!

Smog eating tile?

May 24th, 2012

My designer buddy in the Carolinas, Willy Dalrymple, sent me this link about a new kind of tile roof.

Along with self cleaning windows being brought to the market we apparently have air cleaning tiles now! The manufacturer claims that there is a catalyst built into their tile that converts air pollutants to a nitrogen compound which, when washed off your roof acts as a fertilizer for your yard!

As with all similarly innovative products these days, they claim it has been used in Europe for a while!

Hobbs’ Ink expanding

April 28th, 2012

It has been a while since I updated you on the happenings at Hobbs’ Ink.

We continue to expand our business on all fronts – new kinds of work, new staff, new styles.

On the staff front, the head of Design Development, Traci DiGiorgio Kelley, completed her requirements to become a Certified Professional Building Designer and can now seal plans for the City of Austin. This brings the total number of CPBDs in our office to three.

Meanwhile, Alicia Norman who has been with us about eighteen months immediately took on the job of being our office manager but has grown into much more than that. She works on just about every kind of project in the office, but has really excelled at our remodel and additions work.

Cynthia “Jo” Vaughan, CPBD, has shown herself to be our best plan checker and code expert. Along with her duties at the office she volunteers on a national code committee.

And, our most recent addition, Linda Glaze Tsai, AIA, has been working with us since moving back to Austin from San Diego. She is, along with being a registered architect, LEED certified. Currently she is working on a subdivision amenity center for us along with a number of other projects. She is also beginning to get involved in the City building ordinance review process as her contribution to the industry. We’re very excited to have her on board.

I continue to have the happy job of interfacing with and getting to know some of the most interesting and gracious clients in the world and designing for them and/or working with our Design Development team to do the best part of what we do – envisioning homes that will make our clients happy and serve their needs.

Meanwhile on the recognition and promotion front, we have had some good media in “Design Guide Magazine” and “Austin-San Antonio Urban Home Magazine.” We just won two design awards at the HBA of Greater Austin MAX awards ceremony held at the Oasis on Lake Travis this month and hope to garner some awards at two other design competitions we have just entered.

And, last but not least, our foray into Internet plan sales continues to go well and to expand. Our homes are featured prominently on several Internet plan sales websites as well as in a number of print media also managed by Hanley Wood, the leader in that field.  We’ve actually put up a map in the office with flags for all the many states where owners have purchased our home plans.  We even had one order from Australia! 

While we represent only a small portion of the overall economy, we are seeing a definite improvement on all fronts and expect this bodes well for the rest of the country!

Austin Tree Ordinance

March 23rd, 2012

To find out how to handle the trees on your Austin lot in conformity with Austin’s tree ordinances see this video:

Austin Loses Talented Structural Engineer

March 23rd, 2012

On March 9th we lost one of Austin’s most talented Structural Engineers. Debbie K. Lance succumbed to cancer that day and we all are poorer for her absence.

She had practiced as a structural engineer here since before I ever thought of starting Hobbs’ Ink. In 1984 after working on such high profile projects as the Hyatt on Town Lake downtown, she started her own business. Even today her field is dominated my men, but at the time she was a very brave young woman to hang out her shingle as a woman engineer.

Her work was always carefully thought out. She read our plans carefully and made sure that her engineering aligned with them and, in fact, she often noticed things about the plans that I had missed myself!

Some felt her engineering was too conservative, but in a world of what I call “disposable housing” I considered that to be a plus.

Possibly her most high profile project, which occupied much of her time the last few years, is one you can see from Loop 360 with cranes hovering over a 5 story tower, man-made streams and moats and grottos, and, incidentally a house and pool, several guest houses, and even a green room (the place actors wait to come on stage) and a Bocci ball field.

Deb was the consummate problem solver. I remember her once saying to me on that project that the architect had given her a wide room with an arched ceiling and exactly 9″ of space to fit the roof supporting structure in. I’m not sure how she did it, but I’m sure she managed. She was extremely creative and really knew her business.

But, what I’ll miss the most is her sense of humor, her bravery, her selflessness and her kindness. Deb never demanded attention or praise. She just quietly did a really fine job, always. Because she was so selfless it was easy to ignore or dismiss her.

There are many of us out here who wish we had spent more time with her. She was a fine person who deserved far better than this world gave her.

Art Quote

January 11th, 2012

A lovely quote from a NY Times art critic named Roberta Smith:
“Art, after all, is one of the places where the pursuit of happiness gains focus and purpose and starts expanding outward, to aid and abet that thing called the greater good. “

Rap meets Mid-Century Modern

December 8th, 2011

Pardon the profanity, but the rapper Ice Cube has done a video that celebrates the work of Charles and Ray Eames the Mid-Century Modern masters. It’s about 2 minutes long, but enjoyable: