Seaholm Intake Building by Murray Legge

One of Austin's great buildings is the Seaholm Intake Building. Its reuse has been discussed for several years. We've written an article about the importance of this building in the current issue of Texas Architect magazine. The print edition includes wonderful photography by Leonid Furmansky including the image above.

Calcasieu Restoration (ROOF EDITION) by Benjamin Kaplowitz

For more information on this project, and on the history of the Calcasieu cottage, see our previous post "Calcasieu Restoration."


The existing conditions of the roof structure of the Calcasieu cottage present a dramatic vaulted form on the exterior - something entirely absent from the interior due to low ceilings and cellular rooms.

A digital study of the cottage reveals a delicate structural assembly.

A physical model of the cottage helps in understanding spacial conditions.

The existing attic hides the form of the roof structure on the interior. The space is uninhabitable and uninsulated.

A reworking of the interior will be necessary to express the vault. The 8'-0" ceiling should be demolished, the walls removed, and the space opened.

The model helps to visualize the desired outcome.

Careful work is done to preserve the exterior of the Calcasieu cottage. No modifications are made to the existing roof shape.

The structure is delicate and requires additional 2x8 rafters. 

The new rafters are sistered onto the existing structure so as to not interrupt the original form.

A pyramid shape is achieved with limited intervention.

Open cell spray foam insulation creates a thermally efficient roof – an improvement over the original uninsulated attic.

A window illuminates the geometry of the vault and provides a slice of western light.

Collar ties provide structural stability in both directions.

The finished interior reveals the structure of the roof, creating an expansive, light filled room.

New custom paint-grip roof panels maintain the small scale of the original 12" standing seam spacing.

Excellent work by Pilgrim Building Company, Enabler, and Straight Solutions.

Living in the Landscape by Travis Avery

Sara Frantz - Burger Boy

Sara Frantz - Burger Boy

Murray Legge, along with Norma Yancey and Alisa West, will be participating in a panel discussion focusing on the work of artist Sara Frantz.  The panelists will consider the impact of the built environment upon our perception of nature as explored in the artist's large format paintings.

Sara's work can be found on display at Women and Their Work until March 19th.

Join us for the panel discussion on Wednesday, March 4th at 7:00 p.m.  Admission is free! 

Women & Their Work
1710 Lavaca St.
Austin, TX


Austin Tudor Redux by Travis Avery

We're excited to share an interesting bit of Austin history that we've been researching for one of our new projects: Calcasieu Cottages.  Dotting the Austin urban fabric are tiny dwellings that represent a bygone housing typology for the middle class of the early 20th century–salesmen, teachers, students, police officers, secretaries, meat cutters.  At the time of their construction, these cottage courts were common all across town; very few have survived.

Founded in the 1880s, Calcasieu Lumber Company was Austin's first lumber yard. Image found on

Founded in the 1880s, Calcasieu Lumber Company was Austin's first lumber yard.
Image found on

The following is an excerpt from research produced by the Historic Landmark Commission:

These cottages were built by the Calcasieu Lumber Company of Austin as small dwellings in the 1920s and 1930s. The company had standardized plans, and provided all the materials, even the crews for the construction of these houses on an owner’s site. A few were built as single dwellings, but the majority were built in groups, many in the form of a bungalow court, a popular residential pattern for small, free-standing dwellings throughout the country, but especially in Southern California, where they have been celebrated for their scale and configuration. Bungalow courts corresponded to motel courts of the 1920s and 1930s, but the houses were larger than the typical motel unit, and each one was either singly owned or the entire court was owned by a landlord and the houses rented out. The configuration was not unique to motel and bungalow courts, however; some upper class residential developments of the era also followed the court configuration, which prized the houses facing each other with a common area for the front yards, and each building connected by a similarity of scale and style. Austin used to have a number of bungalow courts close to downtown and on the near east side; this configuration of Calcasieu cottages is one of a very small number which remain. 

Site plan showing bungalow court arrangement.

Site plan showing bungalow court arrangement.

The four houses that occupy the site of our project were built in 1936.

The Tudor-Revival style cottages are a pre-manufactured house design unique to Austin.

Drawing by Nicolas Allinder
Murray Legge Architecture

The pleasing scale and character of the court is readily apparent despite some unfortunate landscaping.

The steeply pitched roof and false half timbered tympanum are hallmarks of the Calcasieu cottages.

The flare in the roof and skirt of these simple, rectangular buildings gives them a stately profile.

Again, from the Austin Historic Landmark Commission:

The Calcasieu cottages are unique to Austin, and have a signature Romantic Tudor Revival style, with steeply pitched hipped roofs – many residents have long referred to them as “fairy tale cottages” because of their soaring rooflines. Most Calcasieu cottages were wood (Calcasieu was a lumber company), but some cottages have been stuccoed (for a more defining Tudor Revival feel) or covered with synthetic siding over the years. They have been used in motel courts (such as the Classic Inn on South Congress Avenue), and more commonly, as small rental properties, generally for students in the areas surrounding the University of Texas. Calcasieu manufactured these cottages through the 1930s, but stopped with this romantic Tudor Revival style prior to World War II. 

The Calcasieu Lumber Company was an Austin institution, and their cottages represent a uniquely Austin manifestation of an architectural style that is found nowhere else in the country. Maintaining them in Austin is extremely important.

Expanding our team by Murray Legge

Balls Pyramid, Tasman Sea, Australia

Balls Pyramid, Tasman Sea, Australia

We are currently in the process of considering expanding our team with a full-time position in the short term and the possibility of extending the position for a longer period of time. Please share.

Job Description

Murray Legge Architecture is a small, award-winning architecture firm looking to add to our current team for a range of project types. We are seeking an individual who has a minimum of  1 - 4 years of experience working on residential, institutional and commercial building projects. Candidates should have good project management and communication skills, work well in a team environment and have strong design abilities. As well, they should be interested in working in a horizontal office structure, working on, and moving between, different project phases, tasks and types.

 Minimum skills required:

• Proficiency in AutoCAD

• Sketch-up, Rhino and physical modeling skills. Grasshopper is a plus.

• Experience with, and interest in, technical documentation through the entire process.

• Flexibility to move between projects and tasks.

• A strong interest in architecture, design and construction.

• Sense of curiosity, questioning and exploration.

Resumes and a link to your portfolio should be e-mailed to Candidates will be contacted via e-mail.

Shotcrete by Travis Avery

We witness many interesting processes during the construction of any given project.  Recently we were on site as the crew of Austin Custom Pools shot the gunite for a privacy wall postioned next to the new swimming pool at the Clark House.  Typically used to form the walls of pools, shotcrete (Gunite is a proprietary term) is a process of spraying a very dry concrete mix through a hose at high velocity.  A nozzleman controls the addition of water as it is sprayed in place.  The application is fast, and the compressive strength of cured shotcrete is extremely high. 

Dry shotcrete mix going into the hopper out on the street.

Dry shotcrete mix going into the hopper out on the street.

Water and shotcrete lines make their way into the back yard  

Water and shotcrete lines make their way into the back yard


Shotcrete process complete.  A more precise shape (but still rough) is achieved by hand-shaping the concrete while still wet.  This wall will receive a finish application of exterior plaster.

Pickled Plywood by Travis Avery

Greg Loftus holding a pickled test panel in place. In addition to being a consummate carpenter, Greg also the front man for the Austin-based band Carpetbagger.

Greg Loftus holding a pickled test panel in place. In addition to being a consummate carpenter, Greg also the front man for the Austin-based band Carpetbagger.

Part of the design process that we really enjoy is transforming commonplace materials into something special.  At the Hartstein Ramshaw house, we've been experimenting with structural elements and materials that would typically be covered over.  In addition to the wall studs in the clerestory windows, we're also exposing the B-C grade plywood of the living room ceiling.  

This construction grade utility plywood has two types of faces; the B-side is an appearance grade face suitable for high-quality staining and paint finishing, and the C-side is the rough non-appearance side with visible knots and defects.  We've been working with the contractor, Gray Renovation, to explore different options to give the exposed B-side a bit more of a refined finish while still preserving the natural grain of the wood. After testing a variety of finishes and stains, we've chosen a combination of Minwax Pickling Stain with a clear polyurethane finish.

pickling stain.jpg

The pickling stain evens out the grain of the B-side with a subtle, nautical whitewash, while the clear polyurethane finish gives it a pearly luster.  These test samples show the difference between a clear-coat of polyurethane and the pickling stain/polyurethane combination.  More photos to come as the ceiling receives this treatment.