EL House

Location: Houston, Texas

Program: Single Family House

The EL House turns openness inward.

The house is sited within Houston’s first ring of post-WWII suburban development. Sites like this one are subject to extraordinary contemporary pressures centered on value – because of their proximity to the central city – and volume – because of a perceived imperative to maximize an envelope.

This value/volume calculus defines the EL House’s starting point. Houston’s maximized envelopes inherently translate to minimized yards, particularly side setbacks. Windows are pressed against neighboring walls or, worse still, against neighboring windows. The result: “looking out” is futile while “looking in” offers myriad opportunities.

Our response: 1) a circular courtyard opens up the middle of the house, 2) a series of notches are cut into the perimeter to create private wells around the house’s edges, and 3) the windows are arrayed to foster an ever-changing series of views binding together the house’s interior and exterior relationships. Framed openings lead from a room to an exterior and back to another room, from upper level to lower level, from front to back, and from side to side.

The EL House is at once a courtyard house and a web of enfilade relationships: “wobbly axis” enfilades that stitch together spaces, sunlight, air, social organizations, landscapes, interiors, exteriors, and functional definitions.

Awards & Publications

Texas Architect, September/October 2016. The EL House is featured on the cover of this issue.

Texas Society of Architects "Design Award"

Arquitectura Viva "News," June 2016

WW Project Team

Principals: Ron Witte and Sarah Whiting

Design Team: Dan Baklik, Sam Biroscak, Mary Casper, Alicia Hergenroeder, Rasem Kamal, Riley Neal, Renee Reder, Geoffrey Sorrell, Sam Tannenbaum, Liang Wang, Peter Di Yi


Structural Engineer: Insight Structures / Brad Dougherty

MEP Engineer: Redding Linden Burr Consulting Engineers / Steve Redding

Civil Engineer: Andrew Lonnie Sikes, Inc. / Lonnie Sikes

Surveyor: Probstfeld & Associates

BIM: Jacki Schaefer


Nash Baker Photography / Nash Baker

Hester + Hardaway / Paul Hester