Dominique Davison founded DRAW Architecture + Urban Design in 2005.
It specializes in multifamily and single-family residential architecture, adaptive reuse of older buildings and urban design. Davison describes the latter as designing a building with attention to how it relates to others in its environment.
“It’s about: How do you make them exciting and active spaces?” she adds.
Urban design played a role in Karen Garrett and Kevin Hennessy’s West Plaza home, which posed the challenge of building a budget-friendly home on a small lot in an established neighborhood.
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“That’s why we love these infill spaces in inner ring suburbs,” Davison says. “There’s so much historic fabric there.”
Karen and Kevin wanted a safe place to park their cars, a couple of guest bedrooms for their children and grandchildren, and a place where they could sip wine and look at the Plaza. They also wanted it to be energy efficient, which meant taking advantage of the corner lot’s southern exposure along West 47th Street.
“We landed on the garage in the back with a walkway inside a fenced-in zone, which is also used as a dog run for their dog and entertainment space,” Davison says.
Davison’s design also called for large glass doors and a deck facing West 47th Street, just feet away from sidewalks with heavy foot traffic. So she strategically planted tall, prairie-style grasses and changed the height of existing retaining walls. The features lend a sense of privacy while allowing interaction with passers-by on their side deck.
Davison also designed a front porch and an upper deck overlooking the neighborhood for the same reason.
“You want the front of the home to be welcoming,” she says. “And having a front porch as a prominent feature that addresses the neighborhood helps promote meeting your neighbors and helps people understand that people are watching. It’s eyes on the street. It’s a way to passively patrol and help protect your neighborhood.”
Davison studied architecture at the University of California-Berkeley as an undergrad and earned her master’s degree in architecture at Yale University. The work of Davison and her team has won dozens of regional and national awards and has been featured in magazines such as Architectural Record and Dwell.
When designing homes, Davison is often inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and in this particular instance, Lake|Flato, a San Antonio firm.
“Something that is consistent between those two examples is they do a warm modern,” she says. “They break the rules in terms of form — it’s not typical building design, but they have a warmth to them with the materials they use, the wood and stone. That’s something we really try to bring to what we do. But it also has to do with a sense of the space and comfortable proportions. Some rooms are cozy, others are grander, so it’s also the scale.”
Davison had another reason to want the project: She lives a block away. So when Karen and Kevin didn’t pick her design the first time because it was too expensive, she did something she’d never done before — asked for a second chance.
“I said, ‘Look, this is a site I drive by every single day and have thought about what could be here and would really love to work with you and show you what we’re capable of and have another home we could be proud of in our own backyard.’” Davison recalls. “I think I sold them on the commitment and passion about the project because it was so personal to me.”