Honor Award: Story House

Honor Award: Story House

Architect: Josh Allison Architecture (visit website)

Location: Newark, Delaware
100 Word Description: Story House is a renovation of a house that was designed and built in 1951.  Built by an engineer who had an interest in modern architecture of the day, the house is located on an 18 acre tract in Newark, Delaware and was progressive for its time and location.  The house also served as the birthplace for a significant international company.  Per the client’s program, this project preserved the lower level of the house to document the company’s history while transforming the upper level into a house that is relevant, useful and pays tribute to the engineer’s original design.
Architect’s Statement: Program: While special as a historical marker for the family, the house had been vacant since the engineer and his wife had passed.  Beyond its sentimental value, the family had struggled to find a purpose for the house.  The multiple additions over time had created a house that was architecturally awkward and had a floor plan that was largely dysfunctional by 2011 standards, but it was still loved.  Additionally, certain areas of the house were in poor repair or had been constructed using methods that would not endure.  The company that was founded in the lower level had always been about moving forward and the family decided it was time for the house to move forward as well.  The next step in the home’s evolution would be determined with several goals in mind: – Preserve the lower level spaces where the company was founded
– Create a house that could accommodate multiple types of family gatherings, both large and small
– Respect the architecture and certain key elements of the original house
– Create a strong connection to the natural beauty of the siteDesign Solution: Stripping the house of its later and less sensitive additions to reveal the original architecture was the obvious first step.  A portion of the upper level was transformed by replacing sections of the existing low roof structure with a new, higher roof that creates an appropriately scaled gathering space.  The new high roof structure is supported by columns that strategically pierce the lower level with minimal impact to the spaces that are preserved.  The remaining low roof structure caps the smaller scale kitchen and utilitarian spaces.  The resulting roof planes indicate the function within while creating a playful dialogue between old and new.   Operable glass walls enclose the gathering space, allow a direct connection to the site, and are only interrupted by the preserved fireplace. The expansive glass enclosure is protected by the deep overhangs of the high roof above.  Detailing and proportions of the high roof, the new glass enclosure and other elements seek to respect and play off of the original architecture.  The transformed house successfully adapts to various types of family uses and seasonal conditions while connecting the occupants to their natural surroundings and a piece of family history.
Type of Construction: Non-Combustible (Hybrid)
Photography:  2015 Sean Snyder, S.A. Snyder, LLC