For some commissions, when no particular vernacular is mandated, it’s an architect’s task to convey his clients’ personalities through the materials of the trade—plaster, stone and brick—in the same way a portrait artist might create through watercolors or acrylic. “A house says things about us, whether we like it or not,” says Jeff Dungan of Dungan Nequette Architects, a firm based in Birmingham.
Dungan himself paid special attention to the personalities of clients Teresa and Tony Marino when he was designing their Alabama abode within the serene setting of Shoal Creek Club. “When I met Teresa, I was struck by her calm and gracious demeanor,” Dungan says. “As she, her husband and I talked about their house, I began to see a trajectory for the design.”
The newly constructed residence, overlooking the creek, greets visitors with a bold facade. “I thought the exterior should be sveltely massive, like a swimmer’s or gymnast’s physique,” Dungan explains. “Not bulky, but powerful and graceful.” A motor court centers on a doorway and chimney, flanked on one side by a large wing that houses the garages, and on the other by a smaller wing that encompasses the study and pool pavilion. A wall of windows, which breaks up the mass of the forward face, opens into the living room.
To keep the home’s interiors as serene as its built environment, Dungan specified plentiful glass and thick walls to delineate each room and create volume. The Marinos enlisted Birmingham designer Richard Tubb of Richard Tubb Interiors to inject the space with an ethereal aura. “The house is totally surrounded by nature,” says Tubb. “Not one thing inside is intended to stand in the way of the beauty outside.”
To emphasize these scenic views, Tubb bathed the rooms in an ivory color palette and left the window frames dark. He upholstered the furniture with rich, contrasting textures, from cotton velvet (“It ages beautifully and wears well,” Tubb says) to linen, which allows for comfortably chic seating that not only accommodates the Marino’s extended family but also remains low-maintenance.
Because Dungan and Tubb have worked together previously, their vision proved seamless, born of trust in each other’s talents. The Marinos were quick to appreciate the duo’s intuitive collaboration, approving the initial drawings with few changes.
“It doesn’t always work this easily,” says Dungan. “But when the right people work together, it shows in the final piece: that behind all that brick, there was a great relationship.”