Gearing up for the highly anticipated AIA Dallas Tour of Homes (hometourdallas.com) later this month, we take a peek inside the esteemed Forest Hills estate that will set the scene for the premiere party Oct. 21. We caught up with homeowner—and president and CEO of HKS— Dan Noble to talk about his dreamy abode.
Homeowner (and HKS architects president) Dan Noble will open the grandiose doors to his dashing home for the premiere party on Oct. 21.
Explain why and how you chose an architect for your own home. Explain the delineation of responsibilities in the design and construction between you and architect James Kuhlmann. [My wife] Ann and I were both capable and motivated to design our own house but wanted feedback on minimalistic, clean detailing and constructability for residential design. All my design work has been on a large nonresidential scale; we hired James Kuhlmann to help us with residential construction documents and collaboration on the overall design and detailing. He was a tremendous collaborator and enhanced the design and the entire process.
Forest Hills is such a unique pocket of the city. What sets this community apart from others in Dallas, especially in regard to its design? Since 1983, we have lived in East Dallas. We have always liked the history and eclectic feel of this part of Dallas. We spend a lot of time at White Rock and The Arboretum, which are only two blocks away. We also like the pastoral sense you get from Forest Hills... you're 10 minutes from downtown but feel connected to a tight, walkable, heavily forested neighborhood. We feel our blood pressure drop every time we pass by the lake and up the hill to our home.
The AIA Dallas Tour of Homes, Dallas’ only citywide home tour and the area’s only tour curated exclusively by architects, is back Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23 and 24.
What inspired the design of the home? How would you best describe the aesthetic? I'd say it's comfortable modern. We knew we wanted a corner lot that faced east to bring in morning light. We looked in Lakewood (where we had lived for over 20 years), White Rock Lake, the Peninsula area and Forest Hills. It took us two years, but we found this lot that fit our orientation needs. We designed a skinny house to promote cross ventilation and deep light penetration. Overhangs let south sun in during the winter months and block the sun's rays in the summer. We have 26 solar panels that supply over 200% of our energy needs on sunny summer days. The two-story 'light catcher' distributes light throughout both floors of the house. We rarely use anything but natural light during the day. We have 14 geothermal wells that supply cool water for our HVAC system. We used sustainable materials throughout to achieve LEED Gold certification.
Can you tell me a bit more about the staircase detailing? We didn't want the staircase to block views out to the courtyard or prevent the northeast light from penetrating deep into the space, so we designed a floating minimalist stair. We also wanted an element to catch the light and allow it to bounce around the room. The tight cables bring a light crispness to the space and have a sort of lyrical quality to them. Architecture has been described as frozen music, and this stair element plays off that notion.
How did art play a role in terms of the overall layout or build? We have been collecting art for over 30 years. We purchased this lot in 2013 and took a few years to design our home and to understand how light worked around the site and how the immediate context might play a role in shaping the massing. This gave us time to design some of the spaces with the art we already had in mind, and it also gave us an opportunity to search out artwork that would complement the new space.
The kitchen appears to be massive. Was this something important to you—are you big entertainers, etc.? As the CEO of a 1,500-person architecture firm, and since Ann sits on several boards, we both entertain throughout the year. The kitchen is the nucleus of the home and connects the outdoor informal dining to the south with the more formal garden to the north. The pantry also extends to the garage and allows the garage to act as a staging kitchen for events.
Tell us about the design and implementation process. The design took a few years. We were in no hurry. We purchased the lot that had a home on it, and we rented out the home for a few years while we massaged the design. We brought James, Scott, Ellen and Richard in to collaborate on design, constructability and cost. We had our LINE Group at HKS perform light penetration, massing and solar studies to finetune site orientation, overhangs and fenestration openings. We hired a LEED consultant to help get us to Gold certification. The process was extremely fun. Most of what we do at HKS takes several years to go from concept to occupancy; this was much more streamlined, allowing us to see things take shape while they were still fresh in our mind's eye. I can't wait to do it again.