In the past few months I’ve been working on a handful of single-family homes in central east Austin. They all have certain commonalities. Appropriately scaled for their neighborhoods, they range from a thousand to around 1600 square feet—restrained in this day and age of McMansions. While not all the lots are cooperative with respect to orientation, I’ve managed to design roofs that are cost-effective, architecturally expressive, and which have some or all of their area optimized for best solar photovoltaic collection. Most, though not all, follow a decidedly modernist formal vocabulary. It may come as a surprise to many how the clean lines and spare detailing of modernism are challenging to build, and in many instances increase (rather than decrease) construction costs. With land prices in Austin steadily increasing, I’ve had to be almost parsimonious—or at the very least careful—with my detailing to achieve the desired aesthetic without having overall project costs get out of control. Much of that responsibility falls on the builder, of course, and it’s essential on these projects that we work together as a close-knit team. Finally, almost all sites for these homes have had serious constraints on them, whether the City of Austin’s form-based zoning for two-story houses, the presence of heritage trees and their protected critical root zones, narrow lots with relatively modest available buildable area, or in one case a significant drainage easement. But in the end, architecture can rise to the occasion when constrained.