Q&A: The mind behind the famous PV14 house

Architect and Lake Highlands resident Micheal Gooden: Photos by Jennifer Shertzer
Architect and Lake Highlands resident Micheal Gooden: Photos by Jennifer Shertzer

Unless you’ve been on some sort of media detox for the past two years, you’ve heard of the ultramodern home made from shipping containers, overlooking White Rock Lake. Known as the PV14 house, its design has received local and national attention on television, in architectural magazines and home design blogs everywhere. The architect behind the famous project is Lake Highlands resident Michael Gooden, a husband and father of two, who took an unconventional route to this success.

How did you get involved in the PV14 project?
Matt Mooney [the homeowner] is a principal at Corgan Associates Inc., and we work directly a lot. I’ve worked for Corgan almost nine years. I do a lot of design work, but I started out doing residential stuff, so he knew that and when he started thinking about his house, he asked me to be involved and to help him design it. He says he’s wanted to build with shipping containers the last 20 years; he’s just never done it. Obviously there’s been a trend in the last probably five to 10 years of shipping container houses popping up — a lot overseas, some in the northwest, like Seattle and Portland. This is the first one in Dallas that I know of.

What was the reaction like?
It was pretty crazy. The house is on Peavy Road, which is pretty busy. The day the containers started coming up, it stopped traffic. People started parking and getting out of their cars, and there was a crowd the entire day. People were that interested. I would I say 98 percent of the reaction and the comments were positive.

Did that surprise you?
I actually was expecting the worst. I kind of thought once the containers showed up that people would freak out. That’s why I wanted to feed as much information as I could. There really wasn’t a lot of information [about container houses] online. So halfway through the design process, I had this idea of creating a website [pv14house.com] that we would make live during the construction process. What I didn’t want was for people to form opinions based on what they thought it would look like. People were unsure, but when we got the finished photography and it started showing up on websites and in magazines, then people were like, ‘Oh my gosh, I love it. I could see myself living there.’

What is your style like?
My style is very clean lines and modern. I’m very interested in rhythm and objects having a reason for where they are — proportions and all that kind of thing. I really love the intimacy of the residential projects.

Tell me about yourself. Where did you go to school?
I went to Baylor, and I don’t have an architecture degree. I have a design degree. So I’ve taken a non-typical path to my architecture career, which is challenging, but also consistent with the rest of my life. I tend to not take the typical path with anything.

Did you have trouble getting into the field after school?
Yes and no. I moved to Dallas when I met my wife. I got a job at an interior design firm in the Design District, and I was heading up their architectural department there. I was in a band, and I wanted to do more touring and playing, so I interviewed at Corgan, and I told them I just want to work three days a week so I can tour and play Thursday through Sunday. It’s crazy because if someone came into Corgan today and told them they wanted to do that, they would laugh them out of the building. It was just the right time. I had a really lousy portfolio, but I had one, so they took a chance on me.

Are you still involved with your band?
I am, but not with that band. That band was called Shapes Stars Make. We were like instrumental rock, I guess. Kind of like Explosions in the Sky. We did that for a while, and then I just kind of got burned out of playing at random bars to people who really weren’t there for the music. But I’m still writing stuff with a new band called All Delighted People. Now I just write and we record, and we give our music away for free.

What’s your favorite Dallas neighborhood?
I love mid-century architecture, so there’s some awesome pockets scattered throughout Dallas. Like Eastwood neighborhood over by Goodfriend off Peavy.

Where do you do your furniture shopping?
Right now I’m on the hunt for mid-century modern furniture, so I’ve been going to vintage shops looking for finds, but we also just bought a table from West Elm.

Do you enjoy shopping for art?
Yes. Actually, me and my wife just started having this conversation about acquiring new art. She’s an artist, so we have tons of paintings all around the house. She doesn’t like putting them up because they’re her stuff, but I love it. So our goal is to start acquiring art.

Any local artists we should know about?
Hobbes Vincent is a sculptor. He does stuff out of clay and then casts it in bronze. Just crazy stuff. It’s really cool.


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