Miró Rivera Architects builds a New Arcadia

From UT Press, the first book from the award-winning Austin firm, led by Juan Miró and Miguel Rivera


The two Austin projects that have arguably brought Miró Rivera Architects the most international attention?

A public restroom on the Lady Bird Lake hike-and-bike trail and a pedestrian bridge connecting a private lakeside estate with its guest house.

“Small masterpieces” is what scholar Juan Luis de las Rivas Sanz calls the two modestly-scaled projects in an essay in “Miró Rivera Architects: Building a New Arcadia,” (2020, $65) a luxurious new book by the University of Texas Press.

“They are work of architecture but, but also something more,” writes De las Rivas Sanz. “They oscillate between being utilitarian structures and pieces of art.”

Miro Rivera Architects
Made of 49 Cor-Ten steel panels and inspired by Richard Serra’s sculpture, the Trail Restroom is an imaginative and artistic response to a simple public need.

“Building a New Arcadia” is one of two books recently published by the University of Texas Press that spotlight Texas-based architects.

With over 300 photographs,”Lake Flato: Nature, Place, Craft & Restraint” (2020, $45), is a primarily a visual celebration of recent projects by the San Antonio–based architects, including Austin Central Library.

Lake Flato book

Surprisingly “Building a New Arcadia” is the first book from the award-winning Miró Rivera Architects, led by Juan Miró and Miguel Rivera. For a couple decades now the firm has been producing imaginative and sophisticated built work that both astutely addresses a sense of place and landscape, while embracing architecture’s ability to function as art.

Beginning and ending the book is a photo essay by Belgian photographer Sebastien Schutyser who used a pinhole camera to capture some of Miró Rivera’s projects in riveting images with equal parts fine detail with slightly distorted effects.

Essays by design scholars Michael Sorkin, Carlos Jiménez and Nina Rappaport, compliment entries for 20 projects, each represented by multiple photographs, along with site plans and floor plans. And Miró’s cogent essay “The Landscape City” introduces case studies of ten of the firm’s single family residential projects in Austin, demonstrating the urban context of Miró Rivera’s design for “a city in an urban forest.”

A thoughtfully conceived volume, “Building a New Arcadia” offers a terrific overview Miró Rivera’s oeuvre that also, by highlighting examples, widens an understanding of urbanism in Texas, and elsewhere.

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
An award-winning arts journalist, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the founder and editor-in-chief of Sightlines.

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