evolution of k+r house

This 1892 working class four flat was purchased and restored in an effort to demonstrate the feasibility of redevelopment that was both desirable and economical. The abandoned structure, though long abused and neglected, was structurally sound and located in an area of potential development. 

The concept behind the renovation was to produce an elegant and comfortable owner's unit which could be supported by the income generated by affordable rental units.  Much research was done on the quality and cost of neighborhood rental apartments.  The existing four units proved to be unmarketable because of their small size and the expense of rehabilitation.  It was decided that the cramped front and rear apartments would be combined to form a single unit per floor.  The reduction of the density by one unit allowed an owner's apartment to be established in the previously vacant attic.  In addition, it allowed each unit to have its own entrance directly from the exterior.  This eliminated the maintenance problems associated with common areas.  All woodwork, doors and other items of architectural value were removed or protected and the building was gutted. 

New mechanical systems were installed in all three apartments.  The new first and second floor apartments were restored to their former simple elegance using salvaged and replicated materials.  The owner's unit was planned as a series of open spaces shaped and modulated by ten new roof dormers organized symmetrically along a linear axis running east and west. The apartment is entered by way of an entrance hall off of the gangway.  The original wood winding stair rises to the second floor where the front door is located.  Off of this landing is located the bedroom, which is planned to allow for connection to the second floor rental apartment if necessary. 

The stair continues to wind its way up into the center of the apartment.  To the east is a cross gable dormer which encloses the kitchen at its north end, and the dining room at its south.  The living room, at the east end of the space, while over twelve feet tall, is given scale by six small shed dormers, each terminating in a view framed by a small square window. To the west of the stair a lower pair of dormers shelter the bathroom and workroom.  More than a century after its construction, this modest building is once again enriching the lives of its occupants.

Photography: Patsy McEnroe