Matched Set: Steel doors and windows have a delicacy of proportion that no other commonly used material can match. Portella’s custom steel window comes in casement, awning, and hopper configurations in three standard finishes (custom finishes are available). Kyle says, “It mimics a putty-glazed window, but does it in a way that seems very clean and modern.” The Architect Series doors come in standard and arch-top profiles. Portella,


Material Benefit: Wood is good for a lot of things, but when it comes to exterior trim exposed to harsh conditions, Azek PVC presents an attractive alternative. Kyle likes the material’s dimensional stability, long life (the manufacturer warranties it for 25 years), and workability. “It paints really well, and it cuts very well, so we use it fairly often,” he says. Azek Building Products,

Top Plate: Cor-ten steel is “more fashionable in architecture than it used to be,” Kyle says. That might scare him off, if he weren’t so fond of the material, which naturally develops a distinctive rusty outer layer that inhibits further corrosion. Having used Cor-Ten as a maintenance-free siding material, Kyle says he loves “the way it patinas. And the color of it is really beautiful.”

Common Bond: Made using the same process since 1891, St. Joe brick still comes out of individual wooden molds. “It has a kind of sandy finish, so it has this soft feel to it,” says Kyle, who used it in the home shown in this photo. “It has a very strong association for me with Houston. A lot of mid-century houses here used it, and most of Rice University is built out of St. Joe brick. It goes really well with a traditional or modern house.” St. Joe Brick Works,

Wish List


Top Floor: Despite its association with Depression-era kitchen floors, Kyle finds Marmoleum anything but depressing. “I just think it has fun colors and patterns; it’s kind of a happy material.” And though it was invented in the 19th century, it’s a modern sustainability superstar. Made of linseed oil, wood flour, and jute, “it’s renewable,” Kyle notes. “It has a nice green profile.” And blue, yellow, red, and orange … Forbo Flooring Systems,

See all the entries in Architects' Choice 2013.