Progress Photos of PUG(nacious)

January 30, 2010

steel moment frame and lower walls

Steel to pier connection

The Frequently Asked Questions that will become part of the Website

January 29, 2010


PUG is an innovative Austin-based company made up of Architects, Designers and Builders dedicated to creating innovative, unique, residential structures.  PUG partners have spent the last 18 years designing, constructing and financing residential architecture throughout the City of Austin.

PUGs are “A Lot of House, in a Small Package,” and represent Positive Urban Growth.

  1. PUGs provide small-scale (550sf – 850sf) living units on existing lots, thereby doubling the density without sacrificing the character of the neighborhood.
  2. PUGs utilize existing infrastructure (plumbing, electrical) and are built on land with existing development.  Further, PUGs have a minimal impact on the surrounding environment and participate in slowing urban sprawl.
  3. PUGs provide homes for extended family, guests or renters, and can provide supplemental income for property owners, as well as home offices to reduce commute times and costs.
  4. PUGs conform to the City of Austin guidelines for Secondary Apartments and the Smart Growth amendments adopted by Austin’s existing neighborhoods.

PUGs are quick to construct, economical, and benefit from the latest building science for energy efficiency, water conservation, construction waste management, indoor air quality, and low maintenance and operation costs.

PUGs are dedicated to providing affordable housing within the City of Austin, and economical versions of the plans are available Free of charge to those who wish to build through the Non-profit organization “The Alley Flat Initiative”.


Q:  PUGs are cute and I want one.  How do I get started?

A:  We must determine if your lot has the proper zoning (SF-3 or less restrictive) and if you are a suitable candidate to build a PUG.  An initial phone call can answer many of these questions quickly and is no charge.  An onsite consultation with our Architects will cost $100.

Q:  Can I afford a PUG?

A: A PUG will cost between $100k and $200k.  We can evaluate the financing options available to each Owner in our initial meeting.

Q: Why are PUGs modern looking, instead of traditional?

A: The PUG Company hopes to create architecture that is worthy of preservation in the future.  To accomplish that, we use the latest design and building methods, and feel that local materials, flexible space and contemporary aesthetics represent our time and place.

Q: What if my property does not have the proper zoning, or is not within one   of the neighborhoods that have adopted the Smart Growth Amendments?

A: Contact us anyway, there might be some other options depending on your situation that will allow the PUG to exist on your property.

Q: Are PUGs customizable?

A: Yes, within reason – different materials, colors and custom features are available within the floor plan options.  All PUGs are adapted to their individual sites to best compliment, privacy, view, and affordability.  All Owners will have the ability to visualize their PUG on their site through computer modeling, and edits will be approved prior to construction.

Q: What if I want my PUG to provide truly affordable housing?

A: The PUG Company has partnered with the Alley Flat Initiative to provide economical versions of our plans that can be built to meet the 80% of Mean Family Income or better criteria for Affordable Housing.  Please go to: for more information.

Q: Everyone talks about “Green Building”, are PUGs really Green?

A:  Beside the obvious advantages of developing within existing urban conditions, the construction of every PUG will result in a 5 star rating with the Austin Energy Green Building Program.  The AEGBP is one of the premier programs in the United States and was a progenitor of the LEED rating tool.  PUGs are VERY sustainable, and are designed to meet Austin’s Climate Protection Plan by being Zero-Net-Energy Capable.

Q: What if I want to remodel my house as well as build a PUG?

A:  The PUG team can provide full architecture and remodeling services for any of your residential needs.

Q: Isn’t a PUG a small dog?  What’s with that name?

A: Yes, the PUG is also the name for the largest of the toy breed dogs.  They are known for being a small dog with a big dog attitude. Pugs are also known for their compatibility with the urban environment, for being loyal to their owners, and friendly to their neighbors.  We think that sums up the PUG company philosophy very well.


The PUGnacious”

Stats:  550s.f efficiency apartment above with carport and storage below. Features include rainwater and gray water collection, FSC certified lumber construction, spray foam insulation, and reclaimed wood flooring.

“The PUGalley”

Stats:   840s.f. Two story, two bedroom, 1 – 1/2 bath, with covered carport, highly efficient windows, optional vegetative roofing, and custom graffiti mural by Nathan Nordstrom, AKA “SLOKE”

“The PUGhat”

Stats:  850s.f two story, one bedroom w/ loft, 1 – 1/2 bath, with covered carport, reclaimed wood flooring, metal and cement board rain screen exterior, and 18 SEER a/c heat pump.

Schematic Images of PUG(nacious)

January 29, 2010

So here are some fairly updated renderings of the PUG(nacious). This was one of the first PUG designs developed along with PUG(scope). It is currently being built at 1415 Justin Lane, and should be complete by May 2010.

PUG is coming

January 29, 2010


Here is our tentative logo. The next post will be images of PUGnacious and progress photos of the construction.

First round on the logo

Modern Homes Tour

January 21, 2010

Hello all,

Check out the Modern Homes Tour, this Saturday, January 30th, 2010.


The Austin of Change Part 1 of 4

September 11, 2009

By Travis G. Young, AIA

Principal, Studio Momentum Architects, PC

This is a partial response to an article posted by Roselind Hejl, CRS, concerning the effect of the McMansion Ordinance on the City of Austin.  I do not agree with all of her positions or arguments, however, she is correct when it comes to the costs associated with remodeling older, inefficient structures in existing neighborhoods.  My comments below are my personal take on the Residential Design and Compatibility Standards (RDCS) and how it affects Austin’s growth.

Having worked within the City of Austin central core since 1991, I have seen many of the changes and heard the arguments surrounding change, density, and growth.  Austin has a struggle with, and is constantly arguing about, how nostalgia for the past must trump vision for the future and vice versa.  I have found myself squarely on the “vision” side of the debate, and my reasons are many.  First, people want to live here, and as long as they keep coming here, we need to figure out how best to accommodate them.  Second, other cities within the United States have grappled with this problem, and we as Austinites should look to the most successful cities to create a roadmap for our growth.  Third, a vibrant city is one that is diverse and includes families from the widest possible spectrum of income, size, and employment categories.  And last, a healthy city is one that is sustainable, maximizes public and alternative transportation options, recycles, and uses water and energy wisely.

I intend this article to be the first of four concerning the points noted above, and how the RDCS is both a symptom and a reactionary response to a City in the throws of change.  As an architect, the complicated ordinance has become a source of work.  Homeowners must hire an advocate familiar with the ordinance in order to obtain the necessary permits to remodel and add to existing structures.  Further, size regulations force smaller, efficient structures that creatively share space.  In this regard the ordinance is a success.  In relation to handling the inevitable density that we need, it has become a roadblock.

People are moving to Austin.  It is one of the few cities in the nation that continues to experience consistent growth.  Even through economic downturns, depression and wars, Austin has grown.  It appears that this will continue to be the case.  Several studies and responses from local government address the issue of Austin’s consistent growth pattern.  Cid Galindo’s Sustainable City Initiative, The Envision Central Texas Plan, and Mayor Will Wynn’s Climate Protection Plan and currently, the City has embarked on a new Comprehensive Plan, that will shape our future.  Mr. Galindo, a former Planning Commissioner and local developer, created an insightful plan for focusing the population growth away from our vital resources such as the aquifer recharge zone, and toward a re-densification of the City core, and expansion to the less environmentally sensitive north east and south east.  This makes sense; unfortunately the exact opposite is occurring.  Austin’s highest growth rate is over the recharge zone to the South West part of town.  Chris Bradford the Austin Contrarian, makes note of this on his recent discussion of density and the Tale of Two Cities.

How do we accommodate this growth, and where will Austin’s future families live?  These are questions we can all grapple with.  Change is coming, and one can shape and embrace it, or tilt at windmills….so to speak.   More urban density will continue to result in fractious debate posing NIMBY’s against Developers, and Neighborhood Groups against Corporations.  But educated responses, and thoughtful consideration will trump angry outbursts from the “No-Changers”.


So, exactly where are we supposed to put all of our incoming population?  Current emphasis within the City of Austin has been on the development of highly dense corridor streets with mixed-use buildings that line the perimeter of existing neighborhoods.  City Staff have implemented this strategy through the VMU overlay as neighborhood plans have been approved.  Steven Oliver, current AIA president, recently commented on this in his article on the Austinist Blog.

Also, we have seen pocket developments starting to occur around the hopefully future light rail.  Called TOD’s (transportation oriented developments) these typically have a required “affordability” requirement, in order to establish greater density than currently allowed in existing zoning regulations.  Numerous parking reductions, open space requirements, and pedestrian linkage to the associated train stations, are intended to minimize reliance on the car, focus participation in public transportation, and provide mixes of commercial and residential structures.  The Triangle development, although sadly not the most inspiring of architecture, works from a planning perspective, and has resulted in vibrant “community-within-a-community”.

Hopefully these efforts will result in providing some of the housing stock we will need in future years, and provide the density necessary to support the public transportation infrastructure we are investing in currently.

Traditionally, there have been other methods to accomodate density within existing neighborhoods.  The City Land Development Code currently has three defined uses associated with these methods.  Those are:  Two Family Residential, Duplex Residential, and Secondary Apartment.


Duplex and Secondary Apartment development have proven historically to be a method to obtain affordable rental housing, secondary income for property owners, and a means to house the extended family.  The new RDCS has severely restricted the options for duplex development, and redefined Two Family Residential to be essentially Single Family with a garage apartment.  Secondary Apartment is allowed only on lots of significant size, although a few neighborhood plans (Brentwood being one) have adopted the smart growth amendments that allow SA on smaller lots.  The RDCS, in failing to promote this type of development,  has missed a great oportunity in Austin’s progress toward a renewed, sustainable city.

The RDCS Ordinance not only affected the size of a single family home, it also rewrote the duplex ordinance language FOR THE ENTIRE CITY, even areas outside the central core.  Some of the changes include requirements for a common wall, perpendicular to the street address, and a common roof where living units must be connected by spaces other than carports or garages.  These two changes force the duplex structure to be a single massive building, as opposed to two smaller separate buildings.  Further the common wall and common roof requirements make access to daylight, cross ventilation, and privacy difficult—if not impossible, given the configuration of most existing lots.  The goal was to make the duplex look like a single house, however the negatives affect the quality of life of the occupants, and therefore make this type of development less desirable.  The density afforded duplex development, ie. two families on one lot, is compromised.  Further, the form and shape prescribed by the RDCS Ordinance has disregarded traditional forms for duplexes, and created something very prescriptive with little ability for the designer to innovate.  When one attempts to place duplexes on the inner city lots where the RDCS Ordinance has created it’s “tent” and FAR restrictions, it becomes even more difficult.

Secondary Apartments were described in Austin’s Smart Growth Amendments, and are defined in Austin’s Land Development Code, as small second living units on existing lots.  They are a maximum of 850 s.f. in size, and must be set in the “rear” of the lot, behind an existing house.  An additional parking space is also required over and above the minimum two spaces required for the single-family house.  Recently, Austin has embarked on the Neighborhood Planning Process, that enables neighborhoods to adopt the Smart Growth Amendments if they choose.  In regards to Secondary Apartments, the Smart Growth Amendments allowed the use on lots smaller than the LDC required 7,000 s.f.  This would open up the potential of secondary units on many more lots in existing neighborhoods.  Unfortunately many neighborhood plans were being resolved while the Mcmansion debate raged.  Therefore the smart growth amendments in many neighborhoods were seen as further disruptions to the existing housing morphology.  The tent and far restrictions of the RDCS have a detrimental effect on even these small structures unless a lot is significantly larger than average, or the lot backs up to an alley.

That’s enough for now.  In my next article, we will look at cities that have embraced density and have attempted to control inevitable development in interesting and progressive ways.

PUG [scope]

July 29, 2009

PUG [scope] is officially under construction on lake marble falls, texas.  offering the option to custumize each PUG per owner, this particular client chose to customize the function creating boat storage, murhpy bed for guest overflow, laundry, bath, and kitchenette on the ground floor…saving the second floor for living and capturing the amazing view of lake marble falls.   the rotation of the second floor box is perfect…(see construction images below)