Old meets New: A local business owner and his wife have purchased a hundred and twenty-five year old gatehouse, depicted below, in one of Pittsburgh’s nicest neighborhoods. We were planning to renovate the home until a tree fell on it and destroyed it just after the closing. Really, you can’t make these things up!
Yet we want to save as much of the existing building as we can. Old buildings form tangible connections to Pittsburgh’s history. Preserving these connections makes the experience of our city richer.
So what to do?
Our new plan is to save the stone walls of the old home – They represent old Pittsburgh at its best – and to fashion from within the old building outline 1) an exterior garden courtyard that preserves the outline of the old home and 2) an interior art gallery for the owner’s collection.
Our intent is to demolish the existing windows and frames that are set within the existing wall but leave the openings as they are, providing peek-a-boo views to and from the court. The walls are ten foot high and should provide just the right amount of enclosure for the owners to have their privacy.
Then, we will selectively demolish the rest of the home, which was basically torn beyond repair by the tree. Once the site has been cleared, we plan to build a new home on the site that relates in its size and configuration to the existing homes up and down the street.
The owners love the idea.
Where are we on this at the moment? Armed with our recommendation, the owners have hired one of our city’s most rigorous contractors, who is currently configuring a preliminary project budget and working through the demolition scope. On our end, we’ve received the Zoning Permit and are currently working with our engineer to determine how to best brace the existing walls so they can hold themselves up. As well, we are researching the new building’s materials and finishes.