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The Villa Renewed: The Architects Challenge Showdown winner speaks

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The results are in and the Architects Challenge Showdown winner is the Villa Renewed. This gorgeous home looks and is traditional (the architect had to jump through some hoops to meet historic code requirements) but hides a few modern secrets. We got The Villa Renewed’s architect, Mark Nelson of David Heide Design Studio to give us some additional details on this traditional green home.

Q: You needed to meet historic requirements when remodeling this home. Can you talk a little bit more about that? It sounds like you needed wood windows, but were there other aspects of this?

A: Windows are an important aspect of the original building’s architectural integrity. In historic districts, preserving the character of the building is paramount. Marvin windows are not only available with a wood exterior, but are also are the closest to the configuration, scale, proportion, profile, and appearance of the numerous types of windows used in this project. All additions and alterations in this project preserve historic authenticity, and reconfigured spaces maintain the original door and window openings.

Using historically correct windows leads to more ways that we can renovate well while bringing the house into the modern world. Here’s one example: with Marvin windows, we preserved the building’s integrity through the transformation of two original 1924 tuck-under garage stalls. Newly converted to guest bedroom suites, the original garage openings were in-filled with terrace doors and transoms. By maintaining the original sized openings we were able let the building tell the story of its evolution. The area occupied by the original driveway is now a terrace.

Q: There are a lot of sustainable elements in this home. Was this something the homeowner wanted or were you able to develop that as part of the renovation?

A: This was something that was very important to the homeowners, as they wanted the building to remain viable for the next hundred years. The deteriorated condition of the building enabled us to integrate sustainable building technologies into the renovation, allowing us a unique opportunity to integrate old with new and historic with modern. The only thing more sustainable than preserving an existing building is good design. At an initial design meeting with one of the clients, she asked. ‘When you throw something away, where is away?’

Q: Since this is a multi-family project, did you do the remodeling for the interior of both units?

A: Yes, we completed interior design and architecture for both units. The building was perfectly suited to fulfill the owners’ longtime dreams of living as an extended family under one roof: parents on the first floor, and their daughter and her family on the second.

As a downsizing retired couple, the parents desired an urban residence that would be traditional yet relaxed. Three small additions provide the required amenities and spaces: one with a shared entry porch, family entry, laundry, and breakfast room; a two-story addition at the rear added a study for her that mirrors his; and a porch that provides direct access to the backyard. Bedrooms and bathrooms were reconfigured as a master suite. A portion of the lower level became a family room and catering kitchen as well as guest bedrooms.

The daughter’s family on the second floor desired a modern design aesthetic suitable for a contemporary lifestyle. The open floor plan of informal spaces has lots of natural light and direct access to outdoor living space. This level gained a private main-floor family entry, an open rear staircase, and a bridge to the dining area framed by glass and stainless steel rails. The bridge is pulled away from the tile wall, revering the “old.” French doors in this area open to the new roof terrace, while leaded casement windows open to a gallery illuminated by new art-glass skylights.

Q: Why was Marvin the best choice for windows and doors?

A: With a great variety of products and endless customization options, Marvin provided the flexibility to allow for creative design solutions, particularly with new and revised portions of the building. They also met the Heritage Preservation Commission’s exacting standards. Marvin windows are the only manufactured windows we specify.

Q: And, we can’t forget about the new pool house! Can you share more about that?

The pool house is also a new four car garage that was built to resemble a carriage house, something that many of the houses along Summit Avenue [St Paul’s historic district] feature. It was built in the style of the residence and features many of the same material. The Ludowici roof tiles were original to the house. When it got a new roof (they still make the same color 90 years later) we salvaged and reused the original tiles on the garage.

Q: Is there anything else you want us to know?

A: More than a year of planning with the owners went into developing programs for their individual spaces, common areas, and the site. A particularly interesting design opportunity was to reconfigure two identical floor plans into two 21st century residences with divergent programs and design aesthetics.

This project is a great way to do multi-family (literally!) living. This renovation sensitively combines what modern homeowners want, and what historic preservation demands.

An all-around winner, and the public thought so, too. Congratulations to Mark and his team for winning the Architects Challenge Showdown!