Urban Four Square

A 1910 four square got new life when a three-story tower addition was added to its left side.

The house was falling down, but the owners didn't want to demolish it. What's more, the lot was too small to support a bigger house under current zoning--there was only a sliver of buildable land. Along with builder Gabriel Nasa, Moore was able to expand the house with a variance and the argument that this would allow for modest expansion and preservation.

When the owners were cleaning out the attic, they made a great discovery: The house had views clear to the Washington Monument. A lookout room and an office cas the new addition and take full advantage of the vistas.

The home's traditional interiors remain, but they've been opened up. Stairs were rebuilt (knocking out the hall bathroom on the second floor made more room), and the core plan was maintained.

By opening up the downstairs floorplan, Moore kept the rooms defined as living, dining, and eating places, yet created a "figure eight" configuration that lets the rooms flow into each other and avoids dead-end spaces.

The new addition houses a hard-working U-shaped kitchen that flows into the family room, as well as into the mudroom, a back entryway to the house that's convenient to the rear detached garage.

The bathtub is on a south wall, taking advantage of sunlight. Double-hung windows are thermally paned and energy efficient. The bath isn't large, yet it includes a two-headed shower, tub, twin pedestal sinks, a toilet, and a free-standing vanity. Three-quarter height wainscoting and a darker paint color on the upper wall make the space strong and intimate.

The home is a seamless melding of old and new. “We have a third floor tower that’s glass, and that’s not in any four square I’ve ever seen,” says Moore. The designed the tower to look as if it had always been there and got glassed in over time.

"The owners wanted a larger, better house, but didn't want to destory the integrity of the old one in order to achieve their goals," says Moore. Because the house was salvaged, not demolished, the builder and architect were able to obtain a zoning variance.

Urban Four Square was built quite close to the street. This side of the house had a porch stuck onto the front of the house that dead-ended close to the front entrance

The new street elevation shows how the tower addition respects the original forms of the house, buitl in 1910.

The right elevation of the house faces west, and is very close to the street.

On the new right elevation, single double-hung windows were replaced with twin double hung windows to pull in as much western light as possible while maintaining privacy on the street side of the house.

On the new left side of the house is the tower addition, plus a screen porch that wraps around the house and leads right into the tower.

On the new left side of the house is the tower addition, plus a screen porch that wraps around the house and leads right into the tower.

On the existing rear elevation was a screened porch stuck onto the back of the house.

The old back porch was torn down and a screened porch was set on the left side of the house. This made way for a mudroom entrance, which also serves as a back entry that's convenient to the detached garage.

The original first floor plan is based ona typical living, dining and kitchen design. With this plan, there's definition--but also limited access and flow.The plan exists in houses all across America built in the first half of this century. But the plan doesn't reflect how we live today.

The zoning variance relief allowed for a new addition to be built. The addition houses the study kitchen, family room, and mudroom.

The original second floor plan didn't have enough closets, and there was a bathroom in need of a serious redo.

In the new second floor plan, the master bedroom is the most important room. The original second floor bathroom was eliminated to make way for a more substantial stairway, and so the stairway up to the third floor could be to code. The entire stair hall used to be dark; now it's filled with light.

The original third floor was a dark attic. While cleaning it out, the owners discovered views clear to the Washington Monument.

The new, code-compliant stair up to the glassed-in lookout room on the third floor connects all the way down to the first floor.

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