Steven and Cathi House met while studying architecture at Virginia Tech. They founded House + House Architects in 1982. Their firm has won more than 50 design awards, and their projects have been published extensively in the United States and abroad.
The courtyard of this home the Houses designed for themselves in Mexico shows their characteristic emphasis on geometry, natural materials, and craftsmanship. Their work has been referred to as "handcrafted modernism."
"It is a contemporary home that was highly influenced by Mexican tradition," Cathi says of her home in the historic city of San Miguel de Allende.
In 1989, Architecture magazine featured House + House Architects in their issue on emerging talent and ran photographs of this contemporary home they designed. "This was our first widely published house and we can trace many subsequent projects to this one," Steven says.
Rather than impose a signature style, the Houses say they let each home evolve naturally. They give clients an extensive questionnaire to help determine how to design a home that will touch its owners' lives in meaningful ways.
"The clients for this home really wanted to live in an old farmhouse, but were unable to find one," recalls Cathi. "So what we did was to invent a new/old farmhouse from scratch."
The Houses often collect materials from a site -- rocks, leaves, plants, moss -- to find colors that make a home fit its landscape. This home's rugged site offered little guidance, but Cathi was inspired by rust-colored outcroppings and a purple haze on distant mountains.
The Houses' travels throughout India, South America, and Mexico have greatly influenced their use of color as well, as can be seen in this bold new contemporary home in Napa Valley, Calif.
Steven and Cathi have also designed multiple-unit housing, including this building on the island of Roatan in Honduras. The building's eight condominiums have interior courtyards that provide private outdoor space and allow ample natural light inside.
House + House designs often incorporate large windows and skylights to maximize natural light indoors. This Northern California home has a 26-foot-high gallery with a skylight that links public and private spaces.
Carefully placed skylights wash the walls with sunlight in this San Miguel de Allende home.
The Houses' recent work is the subject a new monograph -- "Houses in the Sun: light movement embrace" -- featuring 20 projects in California, Mexico, and the Caribbean. An earlier monograph -- "House + House Architects: Choreographing Space" -- was published in 1999.
An early journey throughout the Greek islands "really crystallized our philosophy of architecture," Steven says. In 2004, he and Cathi published "Mediterranean Villages: An Architectural Journey," which presents hundreds of their drawings and photographs.
The Houses' drew on their extensive study of Mediterranean villages to create the master plan and design for Parrot Tree Plantation, a 163-acre mixed use community on the Honduran island of Roatan.
The Houses have made it possible for numerous Virginia Tech architecture students to be inspired through travel. In 2008, Marissa Brown '10 traveled to Europe with help from the Steven & Cathi House Traveling Scholarship.
In 2007, the Houses hosted Virginia Tech students for a three-week intensive program in San Miguel de Allende. Fourth from left in the rear row is Alessandro Ayuso (architecture '01), who went as adjunct faculty.
Now the couple is developing a study abroad program in Mexico for architecture students from Virginia Tech and other universities. Construction on a studio for the program is underway in San Miguel de Allende
Steven and Cathi recently hosted a reunion in Mexico for people Steven traveled to Europe with in a Virginia Tech study-abroad program in 1972. The reunion included a groundbreaking for the studio the Houses are building for their study-abroad program.