Beck House

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Philip Johnson conceived of Beck House, in 1964, as a work of architectural theater floating above the native Texas landscape. When a young family rescued the house from likely demolition, we revised its relationship to those surroundings, elaborating Johnson’s original design into a sequence of terraces that extend domestic life over six acres of managed woodlands.

Beck House’s new owners demonstrated commitment to respecting the project’s heritage and placed great focus on the curatorial aspects of the house, but they also wanted a family-oriented home, a comfortably domestic landscape, and a lasting stewardship ethic for the property.

A grass plinth distanced the original house from the creek and grounds, and Beck House’s overall stance was merely pictorial—the image of architecture in landscape. In the renovation, the four-foot retaining walls were reduced; sections of the plinth were broken for access; and a broad lawn stair now facilitates visual connection and easy connections to Bachman Creek. The geometry of terracing and the new ground plane aligns with the orientation of the creek, bringing the two sides of the property into strong spatial connection.

The aim of improved canopy and soils health drove numerous management and design decisions. Twenty-three original mature orchard pecans (along with five replacements) have returned to long-term vitality through extensive rehabilitation of root zones and canopies and under revised management practices. Engineering solutions to Bachman Creek’s bank have stabilized eroded slopes and now resist regular flash flood damage. Extensive lawns of warm- and cool-season grasses provide essential spatial settings and access to the sculpture collections. A small area of existing prairie was restored at a larger scale with low-demand buffalo grass. Site maintenance is fully organic.

Beck House creatively integrates conservation with a more direct experiential engagement of a site, elaborating upon and enriching Philip Johnson’s original architecture.


Dallas, TX




11 acres




  • Honor Award for Residential Design, American Society of Landscape Architects
  • Merit Award for Design, Boston Society of Landscape Architects
  • “Arch Sophisticate,” by Pilar Viladas, The New York Times Style Magazine , April 9, 2010