Those that counted out the little guy lost big at The Nationals this year when Miraval, the little project that could, took top nods
By Genevieve Smith
Photography by Jim Brady, Brady Architectural Photography
This past January, a small, 10-lot infill development in Southern California took Gold at The Nationals in Orlando. Beating out some big names and perennial winners (does Pardee and Brookfield ring any bells?), the awards MC dubbed the project ‘the mouse that roared.’
So, what’s so special? Put simply, it comes down to the acute passion for detail every member of the development team exhibited. Receiving The Nationals Gold Award for Best Architectural Design in the Single-Family Detached Home 3,001 to 3,500 square foot category, the award was the design teams’ to take away. The mid-century modern inspired transitional homes are a lovely sight with their floating stairwells, expansive bi-fold doors that open to bright California Rooms, and a natural flow around an inner courtyard. But, as every member of the development team is quick to point out, it was the shared passion of the entire team that made this project shine.
The architecture team at Dahlin Group describes it as ‘Passion for Place.’ “Dahlin definitely has a passion for the places we design homes for, but what was special about Miraval is that the builder shared that passion. I think that’s really what made this beautiful home possible,” said Ryan White, senior designer at Dahlin Group.
Co-creator and co-developer Pete Zehnder, founder and principal of Collective Housing Supply, also put a large emphasis on the builder, Pinnacle Residential. “We did things here that are unique to the builder,” said Zehnder. “You won’t find another project where the builder says, ‘Ok, we’ll do that. We’ll make every house different.’ That’s just not what a production home builder does. It’s the antithesis of everything they have to worry about.”
What he’s referring to is the individuality of each and every single home at Miraval. With the same floor plan on each lot, the team had to find a way to differentiate each home and give them their own character to avoid the soulless, cookie-cutter effect. Funnily enough, the answer came from within the community they were building in.
“We hired a color consultant, who Pete found, who actually lived in the neighborhood,” said Robert Scanlan, principal and co-founder of Pinnacle Residential. “It’s a good example of how we collaborate. The first thing we do is listen and get your ideas out there, and then we try to figure out a way to do it in a feasible way where it’s profitable and affordable, but still authentic to the original idea. That’s what we did here.”
The solution became materials and textures, not just colors. “Rather than just having a color palette with three colors and a couple palettes to choose from, each home had its own individual take on where certain materials were used differently,” explained White. These aren’t your everyday material variations, either. He’s talking about unique garage doors for each property, different planter beds, and even specks of real copper in the paint. “The pain that we went through to see if we could get this copper paint to work… most builders just wouldn’t put up with that,” said Zehnder. Pinnacle even went through the trouble to find a local business owner who hand-built each homes’ courtyard entry door out of mahogany.