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An overhaul of a Southern Living house with a view of Pinnacle Mountain, Little Rock

Sometimes people who are considering purchasing land for a project ask us to dissect it.  Tell them what we think. We take in the views, vistas, solar angles, winds, topography, drainage, composition of soil, vegetation, approach and overall feel of a place.  For three years, we worked with a family of nine searching for a site within the city limits where they could build a home and have some land.  Finally, the search paid off –  It wasn’t until they found this wonderful piece of land with a north view of Pinnacle Mountain, an existing baseball field, a pond and a Southern Living house that we told them to purchase the land (quickly), and we’ll work with the bones of the house.  It was and still is a spectacular site. We kept a majority of the structure of the house, removed the existing front porch, brick, columns, dormers and pool in the back yard. We renovated the existing house, designed a bedroom addition, a separate garage/gym/studio apartment as well as re-positioned the new pool/outdoor fireplace at the front of the house with the view to Pinnacle.

Photos of the existing site before construction:

DSC09620  DSC09621

Before/After photos of the front porch:

DSC09724    P1220402

Photos below – Before (same elevation):         After:

DSC09721    P1220408

Before of rear yard with pool:                           After of rear yard with paving (pool in front yard)

DSC09648   P1220407

Details of addition and view looking towards Pinnacle Mountain:

P1220389  P1220396  P1220385

Interiors at kitchen, base and window detail

P1220405  P1120848

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Open Studio at 2nd Friday Art Night

Check out Jeff’s art while enjoying downtown – 2nd Friday Art Night May 13, 2011 from 5-8 PM. Located in our office / studio at 1219 spring street in downtown little rock. We will also be showing recent work from Gabriel Griffith. Mark your calender – you won’t want to miss it.

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Milam Library Addition

We are currently working with the Central Arkansas Library System on an addition to the Milam Library in Perrville, Arkansas. We have included a few computer renderings of the design that is in development.  This library acts as a community center and will have additional meeting rooms, a reading garden, more space for books, a reading room, a larger children’s library section in the existing library, a genealogy research center and more staff office space.

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Modern Infill in Historic Neighborhood

wooten front elev

arch street view

wooten corner view

arch & 13th street view

Above is a single-family residence we designed for review and approval in an historic district in Little Rock, Arkansas.  We submitted for a design review permit to the Capitol Zoning District Commission and the staff report can be downloaded here 1300 S. Arch 9-1-10. Based on our client’s needs and desires, we proposed a modern interpretation of a dogtrot prototype.

Historically, the dogtrot house consisted of two equal one story rooms on either side of a central hall joined by a common gable roof.  The dogtrot was named by early observers who saw the purpose of the passage as an animal shelter – a place where dogs could run through the house.  This type was prevalent in the South, where the passage also functioned as a shady breezeway where meals could be taken in hot weather.  Richard Hulan in an article for Pioneer America wrote: “The true dogtrot house is not so much a way of framing space as a way of living in space.”  Mark Twain in Huckleberry Finn described a dogtrot as, “It was a double house, and a big, open place betwixt them was roofed and floored, and sometimes the table was set there in the middle of the day, and it was cool, comfortable place.”

When approaching this type of house and its relationship to the site, the view through the opening (void) onto the landscape of gardens to the south and to an historic cemetery to the north that dates back to 1843, emphasizes the center of gravity of the house.  It is the clarity of the opening or void which distinguishes this simple scheme and is an emblem of its character.

Not only is the form important, but also the relationship of the form to the street, the block and the neighborhood.  We  located the building within the setbacks established by the historic district as well as took into consideration the rhythm and pattern of the existing historic housing along the street.  We tend to agree with Steve Luoni, Director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center on this thought, “From my point of view the most important considerations for establishing compatibility involve relationships more than materials (both bad and good buildings are made from brick for instance). Relationships would be considered at different scales: the block, street and property parcel.”

Regarding materials, we proposed the use of coated metal for the exterior finish of the roof and exterior walls. Metal is a great product that has been used for decades and we have written about the benefits in our other posts, “Metal roofs with ecological benefits” and “Metal roofs/tax credits”.  Historically, this material was used on roofs, but is less common as a wall material.  However, vertical siding similar to board and batten is represented in the historic district and we thought this approach was complimentary.

During the presentation to the Design Review Committee, Mansion Area Advisory Committee and the Capital Zoning District Commissioners, the conversation revolved around the proposed metal material and discussion about whether or not metal is an approved material for the exterior walls in an historic district.  To some, metal need not be considered, instead Hardiplank horizontal siding.  But to the majority, the metal was seen as an appropriate use of material for the exterior walls.

To conclude this blog:

“Preservation is not about freezing time and ensuring all buildings never change, and places never evolve. In fact it is just the opposite. Preservation helps people understand the evolution. By maintaining older buildings, a place suddenly has a visible history that you can read by simply walking down the street.  Preservation ensures that the city reads with multiple layers of history, rather than solely new development. Attempting to reproduce historic styles in new modern materials and forms is not only confusing, but can also quickly go wrong. Simply put, slapping on a set of columns and decorative ornamentation does not magically create history.” – excerpts from “Will the Preservation Ordinance Stifle Modern Architects?”

Stay tuned for photos during construction.

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