Residential Design

VOL.2 2018

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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Page 18 of 75

and was converted to residential in the 1880s with the addition of a second floor. Other renovations over the years lost track of much original detailing, so the architects went about preserving what merit they could still find, while inserting modern functionality and, yes, a little jazz. "I have always been in love with New Orleans architecture, but I don't want to reproduce it," says Wayne. "I loved working on this project. Part of it is understanding what the house was before and how it functioned. There's always research into the history of it. And there's a real refinement to how we approach the historic buildings while bringing in the contemporary. We want to clearly make what's new new. Any new element is detailed in a very minimal way or it's unabashed about what it is. If the materials are considered and detailed well, there's a dialogue between old and new. You get to experience the history, but you allow the modern in, too." In music, they call it "contrapuntal" when two voices or strains weave in among each other— independently but together. Sometimes the preservation ex- ercise is about finding new purpose for original features. For instance, the old vitrine window on the ground level—it had been closed up when the store became a dwelling, but the team convinced the clients to restore it. "They decorate it now for the sea- sons—Halloween, Mardi Gras—it's a nice way to interact with the street. No one buys a house like this if they don't want to engage the activity of the neighborhood." New Made Bold Negotiating privacy and community is an ever-present challenge with the city's tight lot lines. Layer onto that com- plexity the insertion of an entirely new, modern dwelling amid a streetscape of 100-year-old houses, and you under- stand better the daily challenges of studioWTA. But these may be the kinds of challenges that excite them the most. The new, 5,500-square-foot Web- ster Street Residence is located on a corner lot in an uptown neighborhood of New Orleans. Its intrepid owners had built several buildings before and had strong opinions about what they wanted in their new family house. Essentially, it's a courtyard house that doesn't turn its back on the neigh- borhood. The courtyard is shielded from view by a sculptural metal fence that will ultimately disappear behind trained vines. To use Wayne's word, the house is unabashedly modern, but still infused with references to the city's antebellum grandes dames, among them: the soar- ing first story that finds the coolest ridge of fresh air, the articulated second story shaded by louvered screens like planta- tion shutters, the layered materials that give the façade depth and grace. "These are all elements of traditional design," says Wayne. "And they're what help make the house contextual." Mid Mod Remade There are few New Orleans architec- tural firms more legendary than Curtis and Davis. They designed many notable buildings in town—including the 1975 Superdome, which was technologically very advanced for its era—and many more out of town and out of the country. When they set up shop in the 1950s, their mainstay was houses. They were inspired by California patio homes, and by Davis' studies at Harvard with Walter Gropius. They designed the lovely Emerald Street Residence in Lakeshore, La., in 1953. However, the ensuing 60- plus years and a number of misguided Above and right: Sun studies show the effects of restoring the cantilever roof to the altered house. Drawing: studioW TA Photo: Neil Alexander Photography 19 VOL. 2, 2018 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGA ZINE.COM

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