Modern Mahncke Park home has bird’s-eye view of San Antonio


Perched atop one of the highest points in the city, the two-story modernistic home dubbed the Peregrine House enjoys a commanding view of the nearby San Antonio Country Club golf course, the University of the Incarnate Word campus and much of city beyond. Its second-story balcony juts out and over the ground floor structure, suggesting its namesake bird of prey — wings folded, alert, on the hunt.

“It feels aerodynamic,” said the home’s architect, Tobin Smith. “When you’re up on the second floor and the breeze is blowing, it’s like you’re flying.”

The two-story modernistic home dubbed the Peregrine House enjoys a commanding view of the nearby San Antonio Country Club golf course.  Its second-story balcony juts out and over the ground floor, resembling a bird

The two-story modernistic home dubbed the Peregrine House enjoys a commanding view of the nearby San Antonio Country Club golf course. Its second-story balcony juts out and over the ground floor, resembling a bird

Sam Owens/Staff photographer

The three-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath Mahncke Park house was completed right before the pandemic struck, just as the owners’ children were readying to leave the house and the couple were preparing for the next phase of their lives. That meant building a smaller home that still has plenty of space for entertaining, the “wow” factor of a sleek, futuristic design and — ahem! — a bird’s-eye view that, on a clear day, reaches all the way to the foothills of the Texas Hill Country.

Before the previous house on the lot was torrent down, Smith and the homeowners climbed on the roof to take in that view and imagine the possibilities.

“I wanted to build a house so (the couple) could watch the birds fly by, storms roll in, and the sun rise and set,” he said. “It’s just a glorious place to take in San Antonio.”

The home has a

The home has a “wow” factor design and a bird’s-eye view that, on a clear day, reaches all the way to the Texas Hill Country foothills.

Richard A. Marini / Staff

The house has what Smith calls an “inverted empty nester” design, with the main living area — kitchen, living room and owner’s suite — all located on the second floor instead of the first as in traditional “age in place” homes.

The main room has double-height ceilings with large windows and glass doors facing north, the better to capture that glorious view.

Smith also took advantage of the site’s elevation to design the house so it collects as much natural light as possible, making the interior feel larger than it actually is.

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The second-floor living area has an open kitchen and a seating area.  Overall, the room measures 18-feet wide and 34-feet long, with ceilings as high as 15 feet.

The second-floor living area has an open kitchen and a seating area. Overall, the room measures 18-feet wide and 34-feet long, with ceilings as high as 15 feet.

Richard A. Marini / Staff

“That’s an important component to the success of the design,” Smith said. “But we also placed the larger windows facing north and south so there’s less heat gain or glare.”

To protect the home’s resale value, the owners, who asked not to be identified and declined to reveal the home’s cost, installed an elevator opposite the front door.

“Right now, it helps when they take the groceries up to the second-floor kitchen,” Smith said. “But it’ll also be there if they ever need it for more than just groceries.”

Smith painted the small alcove leading to the elevator an almost-black color called Urbane Bronze to set it off from the rest of the white entryway. He repeated the color on the harplike steel balusters of the open staircase nearby.

“So you receive someone here in the entryway, and then the idea is for them to ascend to the second floor and go, ‘Wow, now we’ve arrived,’” Smith said.

The house has an “inverted empty nester” design, with the main living area — kitchen, living room and owner's suite — all located on the second floor instead of the first as in traditional “age in place” homes.

The house has an “inverted empty nester” design, with the main living area — kitchen, living room and owner’s suite — all located on the second floor instead of the first as in traditional “age in place” homes.

Sam Owens/Staff photographer

Once on the second floor, the open kitchen is to the left while the seating area is straight ahead and to the right. The second-floor balcony is beyond that. Overall, the room measures 18 feet wide and 34 feet long, with ceilings as high as 15 feet.

As does the rest of the house, the kitchen has a rich material palette, with white oak flooring, gray cabinets, white walls, and a white and gray-streaked Carrara marble countertop and waterfall island.

“We kept the palette tight enough where there’s just this cohesiveness to the space,” Smith said. “We didn’t try to make every room different. Instead, we want it all to flow together.”

In addition to the island and countertops, they used the same Carrara marble for both the backsplash and the large panel that hides the ventilation system above the stove.

“We tinkered with several different materials (for the panel),” Smith said. “But when you stand back and look at it, it kind of comes together as this wonderful moment.”

While some designers shy away from Carrara because it’s porous and stains easily unless sealed, the homeowners say they prefer it because it will develop a patina as it ages, like a fine antique.

Natural light streams into the large room through windows that sometimes reach the ceiling, as well as through several obscured, or opaque, glass panels installed in several spots to hide some of the less attractive surrounding views.

The room is so bright, the homeowners say they rarely need to turn on the lights during the day.

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Out the large, north-facing glass door, the second-floor balcony wraps around the east side of the house, where there’s often a cooling breeze, even on the hottest days. Should that become too much, the north side of the balcony is calmer because the house blocks the wind.

The owner's suite is located in the back of the house, overlooking a corner of the San Antonio Botanical Garden, making the second-floor view feel nestlike, as if one is in the tree canopy.

The owner’s suite is located in the back of the house, overlooking a corner of the San Antonio Botanical Garden, making the second-floor view feel nestlike, as if one is in the tree canopy.

Richard A. Marini/Staff

The second-floor owner’s suite is located in the back of the house. It overlooks the San Antonio Botanical Garden, giving it a nestlike feel, as if it’s perched in the canopy of a tree.

The bathroom has an attached, open walk-in closet with a peekaboo window just below the ceiling at the far end.

“We could have closed that off at the end,” Smith said. “But instead, the window gives you a sort of energy release, letting in light, giving you a view of the treetops and telling you what the weather’s going to be like as you’re getting ready in the morning.”

Downstairs are two guest bedrooms and a cozy, vest pocket yard with a gurgling water feature. But the highlight is the covered outdoor patio connected to the front door by a short walkway. With a comfortable seating area, a wood-burning fireplace and an outdoor TV, it provides a welcoming extension of the home’s interior, a connection reinforced by the horizontal cedar siding running along both the interior and exterior walls.

The patio came in handy during the socially distanced days of COVID-19, when the owners, their friends and family regularly spent time there, even celebrating Thanksgiving together.

Indeed, even after the pandemic eased, they say people still call and ask if they can come over to use the outdoor living room.


rmarini@express-news.net | Twitter: @RichardMarini

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