Home    Archichat | July 2011


natalye appel + associates architects, llc

education: b. arch., rice university, m. arch., university of pennsylvania

specialty: live, work, art, civic, institutional

We all know that feeling when you reach in the closet for something and a shoe or a belt falls and hits your head…the world is telling you, that’s enough. The feeling of liberation when you toss most of the contents of the junk drawer …because you have enough. Giving…because you have enough. Enough is that perfect balance, the symbiotic core that we search for.

I am honored to have met highly regarded architect, wife, mother, surfer, chef Natalye Appel at her Southampton home to discuss her life, her work and giving back. She is actively participating in Hope Farms, an urban agriculture education project of Recipe for Success, taking unused urban property and turning it into a fully functional, vertically integrated, organic showcase. Hope Farms will serve as a national model dedicated to changing how families understand their food while increasing access to fresh produce in underserved communities.

Why architecture? My high school counselor suggested I NOT try architecture, but instead go into nutrition/cooking (despite showing an affinity for both in career testing) because I was a girl. I was driven to architecture by that sexist statement, and I love collaborating with clients and colleagues to find the right recipe for each project to be just enough – nutrition, taste and beauty. I have been doing a lecture with my friends Val Glitsch and Nonya Grenader titled “Enough,” and their takes on “What is Enough?” are my inspiration.

Current Projects: • Several new homes in Houstonand the Texas Hill Country • Los Doscientos Barn and Lodge • Hope Farms Master Plan with OJB Landscape Architects

Recent Projects: Oak Forest Neighborhood Library renovations/additions with James Ray Architects and Architect Works – expected to receive LEED Gold

Why have you chosen to make Houston your home? I grew up in Houston and love the Gulf Coast, not to mention that most of my family is (or has been) on the faculty or a student at Rice University.

Tell us about your home. My home is a small old stone house that my husband (John Casbarian of Taft Architects) and I renovated, which is one of the greenest things one can do. We made one large space downstairs to focus on the garden, designed by our friends Jim Burnett and Chip Trageser of OJB.

Who is your favorite architect and why? I am about to visit the work of one of them – Alvar Aalto – for the first time. His use of modern design concepts with regional materials is inspirational.

Itching to work on? Construction of our latest project: a green roofed house and pool for a swimmer, her brothers, their parents and their art.

Best places in Houston to hang out? Hermann Park; Brochstein Pavilion at Rice; farmers markets at Tafia, Rice, Eastside; any part of Goode Co. Armadillo World Headquarters (right next door to my office).

How can children be encouraged to appreciate architecture? Children are naturals and need no help with appreciating their environment. Just ask my daughters, Claudia and Julia, to give you an opinion!

If you had to live off the land, where would you live? Basque Spain. I would fish, grow vegetables and grapes for wine, plus there are the world’s best restaurants in case I fail. (Plan B: I would add more livestock feeders in my backyard, topped off with my daughters’ compost, and fish in Galveston Bay).

When I am gone, I want people to look at Our tiny first public project, the airshafts at the corners of Jones Plaza downtown and think of me.


Author Larry McMurtry

Clothes designer Junky Styling of London – deconstructed + re-styled, adaptive re-use

Film Hud

Hobbies Cooking, reading, swimming + body surfing in the Gulf, sailing, skiing

Meal Julia’s homemade pasta with herbs

Gift Julia and Claudia’s linoleum prints Flowers Roses from my husband John City Houston, of course

Wine Txakoli Museum Rice Gallery for commissioned installations

On your iPod Gotan Project, Buffalo Springfield, My Morning Jacket

Vacation spot Ponza

By Sandra Gunn | Photography by Jack Potts | Architectural photography provided by natalye appel+associates architects