“The Armadillo vault, exhibited at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale and commended at the 2017 Structural Awards, is a doubly curved, unreinforced, cut-stone, compression-only vault, constructed from 399 limestone blocks. The thickness of the stone varies from 8–12cm at the supports to 5cm at the peak. With a height of 4.4m and spans of over 15m, the structure has a thickness-to-span ratio half that of an eggshell.”
“With so much focus on material finishes for luxury residences, David Escobedo reminds us that no high-end residential project will stand the test of time, nor holds its beauty, without investing in a strong and solid structure. This thinking is evident in every structure Escobedo Group has ever built.”
“Each stone is informed by structural logic, by the need for precise fabrication and assembly, by the hard constraints of a historically protected setting and by tight limitations on time, budget and construction. On the one hand, digital tools were developed for the form-finding process of the shell’s funicular geometry, the discretization of the thrust surface, the computational modelling and optimization of the block geometry and the CNC machining process. On the other hand, together with master stonemasons, traditional strategies of stereotomy were investigated, analyzed and revisited to develop appropriate and efficient stone-cutting and processing techniques and approaches to sequencing and assembly.”
Our Armadillo Vault is mentioned in The Economist by our collaborator and former Escobedo Group intern, Philippe Block of ETH Zurich and the Block Research Group (Zurich). The comparison is made to the Armadillo being half the thickness of an eggshell at the equivalent size, while standing in compression and hold the weight of 2,000 pounds.
“Builders David Escobedo and Kathy Escobedo turned those solutions into reality by fabricating everything from the wall panels to the limestone fireplace in the living room to the floating master bathroom mirrors and if getting the intricacy of the designs just right wasn’t difficult enough, everything had to be calculated to meet the size and weight restrictions of the service elevator.
Regarding the kitchen’s burnished-brass shelving unit, David Escobedo explains, “That unit had to be made and assembled in the shop, then disassembled, loaded on the elevator, and reassembled on site.”
Architectural Record recognizes our merging of old world craft and innovative technology in their July, 2016 edition.
“They call it the armadillo, pieces of limestone of varying size formed into arches, left to right and front to back. It’s beautiful and magical, a wonder of engineering so simple you can’t imagine it hasn’t been done before and so complex you can’t believe it’s been done at all.”
Igor Siddiqui for Texas Architects lauds our Armadillo Vault (and would have picked it for the Golden Lion award if he had been part of the jury).
“Escobedo’s unassuming property may appear to be just a handful of warehouses out in the middle of Buda, but inside his three mills, magic happen.”
“Construction doesn’t get anymore essential than stacking stones, or any more advanced than CNC fabrication . David Escobedo ’s work bridges those two extremes, applying up-to-the-minute technology to support an ancient way of building. A lifelong student of traditional masonry, Escobedo has read and traveled widely, learning from masters of the trade, both living and long dead. In recent years, he has updated their techniques with sophisticated machinery, gaining efficiency and cutting costs while remaining true to the timeless values of his craft.”
"Take the best aspects of a canoe and combine them with a kayak and what do you have? Not a canyak or kaynoe, fortunately, but the Sea Dart, a sleek hybrid designed in part by David Escobedo, founder of Escobedo Construction. "It is tough enough to paddle in swift currents or light surf, yet weighs less than 55 pounds, so one can carry it," explains Escobedo."
"The unique style of construction is arresting; huge pieces of stone have been integrated seamlessly in cantilevered walls. David Escobedo is responsible for construction, demonstrating, in the building carcass as well as the finish, the skills of a true master craftsman."
"One of the many engineering feats of the house, the stairs of the main staircase spiral is without the help of a center column for support. The level of craftsmanship is evident in the way that the house swoops and curves."
"It has perforated brass doors, a vertiginous fireplace wall of Negro Marquina marble, chairs covered in zebra print, and crazy hand-painted wallpapers."
"To live under this wide canopy of beauty, to live in that white speck in the distance, so that each morning the majesty of this place greeted you and "the stars at night, big and bright" put you to sleep, what a true treasure that would be. So was the desire of David Escobedo, owner of Escobedo Construction - to have open spaces - both in the general sense of the wide open hill country in which he situated his home and also in the specific manner in which he built it, simple and open, so as to better enjoy the splendor around him."
"Buda, Texas, is home to a company known to twist and bend stone into shapes resembling ancient Mayan pyramids and old Tuscan villages. One wouldn't know it by looking at some of these projects, but the company's headquarters are strikingly modern. The clean style is not only the owners' more natural preference; it's also a fitting reflection of the way their business works."
"Like the company, Escobedo Construction's systems and processes have developed in response to specific projects, and they keep morphing to meet challenges."
DETAIL Readers’ Prize 2016
"Standing without reinforcement, proportionally as thin as an egg shell, the expressively flowing surface structure challenges the idea that complex, freeform geometry need go hand-in-hand with inefficient and untruthful use of material."
Pacesetters 2012: David Escobedo, Escobedo Construction
"Construction doesn’t get any more essential than stacking stones, or any more advanced than CNC fabrication. David Escobedo’s work bridges those two extremes, applying up-to-the-minute technology to support an ancient way of building."
"The Texas Society of Architects conducts an annual Honor Awards program recognizing exceptional members, firms, individuals, and organizations for their outstanding achievements in support of the profession of architecture, the built environment, and quality of life in Texas."
The Top 100 Latino Entrepreneurs
"David Escobedo started out about 25 years ago, framing wood houses. In recent years his general contracting company, whose innovative work with stone has sparked a collaborative project with engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has more than doubled its workforce
and expanded its facilities from 5,000 square feet to nearly 30,000."
The Prism Stone in Architecture Awards
"To create an authentic Mayan look, the designers used hand-chiseled textures and a mortarless “zero” coursing technique, which is a modernized version of the Mayan “low-lift” construction. The team also developed a method for cantilevering stone treads from a concrete shaft wall to create a stone stairway with an open exterior."