Text description provided by the architects. This renovation project addressed the issues of sustainability through recycling, the reinvention of two historic, but not historically significant, structures to align with the brand of the owner’s business, and the investigation of and references to the work of two artists through this project.
The renovation of these existing residential structures, used as offices, was more than sustainable. It also created a typological transition from the adjoining first-ring suburban residential neighborhood to one side of the site to the more urban commercial retail strip on the other (thus preserving the character of both) through a new interpretation of the existing residential forms. And it responded to the desires of the owners of the resident business (a strategic design firm) to maintain the connection between their brand and the historic structures (and the disconnection of their brand with a new, slick office building).
The two structures are connected with a visually and functionally unifying atrium/entry and a fractured spherical void carved from the center. Sections of the gabled roofs were raised to increase interior daylight and functional volume. The spherical void, as defined by circular excisions with their internal structure exposed, is a reference to the work of Gordon Matta-Clark, a groundbreaking conceptual artist of the 60’s and 70’s, whose manipulations of existing structures saw buildings as sculptural material and questioned assumptions of space, enclosure and the relationships between building components. His work is also referenced on this project’s exterior, where existing windows were kept, but also expanded and connected, often between floors, to create graphic symbols in the facades. Once again, the floor structure exposed by the windows between floors was left raw. The work of George Rousse, the French photographer, is also referenced in this project’s interior, where new sightlines are created through unexpectedly opened and connected spaces and, through the use of color, these serially joined spaces simultaneously expand and collapse the interior space.
The two-story connector, with a polycarbonate glazed roof, is a major source of daylight for the interiors, filtering and reflecting light through openings to the adjacent workspaces. A stair and second level bridge provide a convenient, centralized access where none had existed before. The opened walls and new sightlines provide a more collaborative work environment and brief “behind the scenes” displays of these areas for visiting clients. New volumes under flat roofs connecting existing gables enable the expansion of the offices with increasing the building’s footprint. The building’s exterior has been reclad with a dark gray cement board and stainless steel rainscreen providing continuity to the existing variegated forms of the structure.