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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owners had not treated the building kindly. The final blow seemed to come from Hurricane Katrina. Then, nearly 10 years later, a well-traveled, forward-thinking couple stepped in and bought what was left of the house. They hired Wayne to repair and update it, and that was it—or so they thought. "The house had flooded during Katrina—several feet of water. When I first went to look at it with the clients, I thought it had great potential, but had been ruined by earlier renovations," Wayne recalls. "I said to them, 'If we're going to do it, we have to go back to some of the original elements of the Curtis and Davis house, and bring back its integrity and authenticity." This is a case where the architects were happy to reproduce original details—to a point. They were lucky enough to have access to the Curtis and Davis plans for the house, which gave them insight into their creative vision but also the practical-minded thinking behind some of the design decisions. The first imperative was to restore the roof overhang that was part of the original's rear elevation. "What you see now is an addition, because the original overhang was captured and integrated into the square footage of the house," Wayne explains. "That's a southern ori- entation, so the overhang was critical. The new window wall we designed is where the original cantilever was." New Weldtex wing walls and sliding glass panels from La Cantina connect the interiors to the landscaped outdoors, while also establishing small, covered patios outside key rooms. This was no small technical feat, as the team had to design and install an entirely new steel structural system to support the new mono-pitch roof and overhang. Ultimately, the project ended up as a "full gut," says Wayne, including the landscaping and pool. The result, however, looks like it was always there, a natural fit with the spirit of the house and its times. The extent of the intervention and reinvention came as a bit of a shock to the clients, but they couldn't be happier with the house and the way it lives. The architects brought them along with care. and made sure they were involved in all key decisions. Says Wayne, "The way we've curated our website, we find we attract people who want to try some- thing distinctive. Our clients want their signature on the project, too. We don't dictate, we direct." What's Old Is New, Etc. Although Wayne was involved in New Orleans' planning and rebuilding effort, he doesn't feel Katrina's after- math provided any new information, just new resolve. "We understood a lot about how to build sustainably before Katrina, but the hurricane provided the impetus for the city to adopt some things faster than we might have other- wise," he says. "In a way, disasters have been good for New Orleans. We now have a levee system that will protect the city for 100 years or so. Investments are coming; we're a top five tourist destina- tion; we have lots of new construction multifamily. Of the nine custom houses we're doing right now, eight are primary residences," he adds. For the firm that straddles the old and new worlds, there are lessons to be learned from all timelines. Established fundamentals about solar orientation, shading, and natural ventilation coex- ist with the exciting possibilities and problem-solving that new materials and technologies promise to provide. Wayne likes to test new ideas and materials on his own house first. That's where he learned to love polycarbonate, a material he's used in many applications since. Now he's about to incorporate Thermory ash into his new kitchen remodel—he's hoping it can replace the ipe he's accus- tomed to using for its rot resistance and overall hardiness in New Orleans' hot, humid climate. Apparently, it's not just the young folk in the office who still learn from kitchen remodels, after all. —S. Claire Conroy Left and above: This infill house in Bywater distills iconic New Orleans architecture to its essence. Drawings: studioW TA 20 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGA ZINE.COM VOL. 2, 2018 PRO-FILE DESIGN

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