DIY Hero & Architect on the Rise: Q&A with Shane Pavonetti

David Plick — 

1857b94a565b7e5cdb69060d95736cd21452273771Austin-based architect Shane Pavonetti has garnered some much-deserved attention recently. With amazing write-ups in Dwell, Curbed, and Houzz chronicling his design process in his own home in East Austin, the Garden Street Residence, Pavonetti has established himself as a DIY hero. For this project Shane was the architect, general contractor, and steel fabricator while his wife Holly was the interior designer. They saved a whole lot of money making a dream home, but also a media buzz around Shane’s firm, Pavonetti Architecture, proving it is one to watch in the coming years.

Shane took some time out of his schedule to speak with TVOA about architecture, his artistic influences, and his newest project, 2004 E 12th Street.

TVOA: What is architecture?

Shane Pavonetti: Architecture is thinking and representing those thoughts in a way that will facilitate the construction of a building. Architecture precedes a pre-made garden shed kit from Home Depot just as it does the homes we design, and just as it did the Parthenon. It’s all a gradient.

TVOA: What were some of those thoughts that arose with the site at 2004 E 12th Street? Were there any challenges with the site?

Shane Pavonetti: There is a drainage easement on the site that’s about 10’ wide and runs diagonally through the lot, effectively cutting it into two triangles. The developer was interested in maxing out the buildable area of one side so the shape was really dictated by the lot lines and the easement. Matt and Jeanne [the designers] worked on the general siting and size of the building and when we stepped in most of those decisions had already been made.

TVOA: Garden Street Residence and 2004 E. 12th Street are both located in East Austin. Is your firm planning on focusing there? What does the East offer architecturally that the West/North/Central doesn’t?

Shane Pavonetti: We are not interested in focusing on a specific part of Austin or even Austin. We enjoy working on a diverse range of projects. We find that diversity in scale, scope, and location. We are currently working on what is going to be a beautiful home in western Michigan.

East Austin is changing very quickly with loads of new construction—especially in the low to mid price range. The clients are younger and we find they understand the value of design and are looking to work with a younger architecture firm.

TVOA: I read you worked at Miro Rivera’s studio. What did you learn there?

Shane Pavonetti: Professionalism, thoroughness, organization.

TVOA: What did working in Paris, Barcelona, Hong Kong, and other countries teach you about designing in Austin?

Shane Pavonetti: It has helped me to think about construction outside of the typical means and methods that we find here in Texas. Construction abroad, especially in Europe is much less ‘off the shelf’. They fabricate more and use more raw materials in place of prefabricated systems.

TVOA: Where do you see the future of architecture in Austin heading?

Shane Pavonetti: Unfortunately, because building costs are so high right now, most folks cannot afford anything too interesting. We try our best to deliver design that reflects the individuality of the owners and will last generations. This gets harder and harder as costs skyrocket.

TVOA: What’s exciting you guys about architecture in Austin?

Shane Pavonetti: The density is exciting. The resulting traffic is a bit of a drag but I think its good overall for the city. Hopefully this will force the hand to develop more alternative / public transportation.

By: David Plick

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