View From Butler Street
View From Butler Street

This project is a home designed for an eye surgeon who is also a photographer, and Cyd Steakhouse, a teacher. The couple needed a place to live where their seven children, the youngest of whom enters college this year, could stay from time to time.


The site is located along a busy blue- collar Pittsburgh street that runs along the Allegheny River, connecting the city to its suburbs. There was an existing home on the property built in the 1920’s with a substantial concrete block base that was in good shape; but the two story wood structure above was falling to pieces. The house is on an extremely steep site, perched between the street and a railroad line far below.  Our intent was to respond to the site context and to create a set of memorable experiences. Our first decision was to preserve the masonry ground floor of the existing home but demolish – and subsequently rebuild – the insubstantial 2×4 framed building above.


The second was to design a bridge with metal grating that would allow Bob and Cyd to park on the project third floor, which is level with the street. This strategy has allowed us to preserve the existing site by planting all around the building, including under the bridge!


The third was to open the new construction as much as possible to the river view.


The fourth was to mark the building entry with a corrugated fiberglass canopy and clad the new building volumes in Cor10 steel, providing a colorful, tough, industrial look that relates to Pittsburgh’s storied past.


The new construction, with its emphasis on place, craft, and community, is functional and buildable, yet uniquely local to Pittsburgh.