When describing a classic 1920s home, Houstonians will proclaim, “That’s a John Staub.” Now that same reverence greets homes built by powerhouse architects Bill Curtis and Russell Windham — “That’s a Curtis & Windham.”
The 24-year-old firm, Curtis & Windham Architects — recipient of a national Arthur Ross Award, two consecutive Institute of Classical Architecture & Art Palladio Awards, and multiple ICAA John Staub Awards — is responsible for dozens of new-construction classical residences and tasteful renovations and additions in River Oaks and beyond, executed with extreme attention paid to appropriateness, scale and surroundings.
Small wonder, then that a hefty monograph on Curtis & Windham’s work, A Vision of Place: The Work of Curtis & Windham Architects (Texas A&M Press), is out this month. In the introduction, architectural historian Stephen Fox notes that “in twenty-first century Houston, this conservationist attitude is revolutionary.”
As Curtis told PaperCity last fall in a profile celebrating their work on the St. John’s School Campus Center and Flores Hall, “City architecture is the highest form of civic art. Architects and clients have a responsibility not only for that actual building but to everyone who walks or drives past it.” Indeed, this is a novel sentiment in a city with no zoning and a love of bulldozers and wrecking balls.
A Vision of Place details 24 projects, ranging in scope from Park Circle Drive House in Tanglewood (1995), to the stately Knollwood House and Gardens (2003), designed in the tradition of Charles Platt and John Staub. The private fly-fishing retreat, Table Rock Ranch in Colorado (2010), draws on Albert Good’s principles (1938) that park structures should above all respect their natural surroundings.