Urban Living in Alamo Heights

Grove Place brings a dense cluster of townhomes with outdoor connections, private terraces and light-filled interiors to Alamo Heights.

In Alamo Heights, a city surrounded by San Antonio, developers are looking to satisfy increasing demand for urban-style accommodations near the heart of the big city.

Grove Place is a four-home development created on the site of what was once a single-family residence on a prominent corner lot. The 3-story units sit snuggly, two-by-two on the gently sloping lot, a site arrangement that allowed the architects to design unique outdoor experiences to anchor each home’s ground floor.

The project represents an “exercise in arranging units and stacking floors on a tight site in a way to allow natural light to penetrate into each unit from three different directions,” says LPA Principal Mickey Conrad.

The 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom homes are wrapped in contemporary finishes, like horizontal and vertical fiber cement panels, that provide an updated take on traditional materials. Black-framed floor-to-ceiling windows bring light into the units, signaling the more contemporary attitude to views and indoor space that the homes embody.

Inside, modern touches like exposed laminated wood structural beams span above the living room’s wood floors, while metal ducting and conduit exposed throughout the house replace the need for drop ceilings, increasing the sense of volume at each level.

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Three-story units are arranged to allow natural light to penetrate from three different directions.

“By using exposed framing inside, we were able to economize on the construction costs, while also creating a very interesting texture overhead to help create the industrial look our client was looking for,” Conrad says.

In the entry, a prominent staircase made up of thick wood slab stair treads set on a black steel frame rises beside a front-facing window wall that follows the stair to the third floor. The design floods these efficient homes with extraordinary light, connecting the public and private sections of the residence.

On the second level, the stair opens onto a dining room and kitchen and flanking living space that marks the heart of the home. Here, blonde wood floors spread from the cooking, dining and living spaces to a folding window wall and a second outdoor terrace just beyond. This terrace, shaded by a slight awning, also offers a staircase running back down to the ground-floor patio. Another private terrace on the roof invites residents to enjoy beautiful sunsets.

“Each unit has decks and terraces off the main living spaces and the bedrooms,” Conrad explains. “It’s a great way to have parties in the home or to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July.”

The multilevel design separates the decks from the neighboring units, creating intimate spaces that are not exposed to neighbors.

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The entry features a prominent staircase made up of thick wood slab stair treads set on a black steel frame.

Despite the generous indoor-outdoor connections, the units offer a significant degree of seclusion, says Ashely Tippit, one of the homeowners. “What struck me about the way the homes are designed is the amount of privacy you get,” she says. “You’re not looking at anybody’s backyard and you don’t really feel like you’re on top of anybody.”

Although the units are designed for privacy, light floods every area. “There’s something about not even having to turn a light on to read a book when you’re in the house,” Tippit says. “You’re living inside, but you’re almost outside.”

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Black-framed floor-to-ceiling windows connect each unit to the outdoors.

Bedrooms and bathroom suites populate the most private levels of the home at the top, where modest trim and warm materials like wood floors act as a backdrop for the home’s large-format windows. Tucked-in shades are built into the window frames, providing a discrete but effective strategy for keeping out the Texas sun.

The details, large and small, came together to create a development project that proved successful for the design team and the client. “All of the units sold prior to them being completed,” Conrad says. “The developer was the owner-developer-builder, so he was excited that all the units sold without having to hire a broker.”

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Bathrooms are open, sunny spaces with large windows.