The texan cliché of bigness applies to this hefty book. Nevertheless, the work of Miró Rivera – set up in Austin but with roots in Juan Miró’s Spanish and Miguel Rivera’s Puerto Rican education – is more intimate and succinct than this volume, with its large format, thick paper, and generous typography, suggests. In fact their architecture is best presented in images taken with a pinhole camera by Belgian photographer Sebastian Schutyser, who uses this simple technique to capture the beauty and emotion of buildings and their environs, and which are reproduced in two sheets of matte paper. Framed by them, 26 sheets of gloss paper show 20 works built over 20 years, including the wild-looking footbridge in the Colorado River Wetlands, which earned the firm international recognition, the sculptural restrooms along Lady Bird Lake in Austin, and the unexpectedly transparent Vertical House in Dallas, shown on the book’s cover.
Private houses take up a good part of the studio’s projects, and Miró presents ten with a text that describes Austin as a ‘landscape city,’ defending the coexistence of this model with the compact form of European cities. Completing the book are essays by the late Michael Sorkin, the professor Juan Luis de las Rivas, and the historian Nina Rappaport, besides a conversation of the architects with Carlos Jiménez. It is not easy to reconcile commercial survival with cultural pursuit, but the Austin office strives to, working by a motto – ‘Thinker. Builder. Artist’ – that reflects the size of its ambition.