The Power House

This neighborhood electrical substation was built in 1923 by Dallas Power and Light Company in a mixed residential and commercial area of town. The substation was constructed of red brick, with a high surrounding brick wall, and neoclassical details. Left vacant for 20 years, the three-story substation was transformed into a single-family residence.

This urban garden has sprung to life within the walls of a former industrial compound. The garden occupies a good portion of the nearly half-acre site. The compound is organized into spaces that directly relate back to its original industrial predecessor.

The exterior is an urban experience for the many pedestrians that frequently travel by on their way to a well used hike and bike trail. A carpet of buffalo grass softens the ground plane, minimizing water consumption and maintenance. Groves of Eves necklace trees punctuate the buffalo grass, and provide seasonal interest. Along the western flank, a massive basalt boulder plinth rises up and provides a very urban connection to the streetscape. High-rise live oaks penetrate the plinth, and become shading elements for the three-story-high windows.

Upon entering the motor court, a windswept native live oak becomes a living sculpture. The tree rises up out of a fitted basalt boulder mound. This “island” provides shade and relief from the intense sun, as its shadows move across the ground below. The motor court is enclosed with a living green screen that provides privacy and a sense of enclosure.

The inner courtyard is surrounded by a high brick wall. This former industrial yard housed many of the large transformers and equipment; at the north end a large steel pivot gate opens up to reveal a tilted plinth of buffalo grass. The steel-sided plinth erupts into the courtyard creating the sense of upheaval. The beautiful rusting steel sides resemble the soil horizon. The buffalo grass becomes animated with the slightest breeze. A lone mesquite tree is a living sculpture surrounded by basalt gravel, its shadows gracing the ground.

Project Type


Dallas, Texas,