San Antonio, TX
Olmos Park, Texas
Architects are usually hired to solve a particular problem. It is rare that the design professional is allowed to help define the problem in question. Rather than consulting the architect after they had already purchased a home, a family that was relocating / returning to the San Antonio area from San Francisco instead decided to employ Urbanist Design’s expertise to scout potential properties that could be renovated to meet their specific architectural needs. Once those programmatic and spatial needs were defined, the owner and architect were able to locate an existing home that while not initially perfect, could be made so through a series of targeted architectural interventions.
The “bones” of the house at 345 Paseo were found to be good. Built in the late 1960’s it possessed a fun mid-century spirit and clear spatial organization. However the house lacked the close connection between the inside and the outside that the owners were looking for in a house. As a result, a major goal of the renovation project became to connect the interior of the house to this landscaped front and back yards. Working with the owner, the architect developed a scheme that saw the house organized by the addition of three “pavilions” to the original structure. These additions acted as thresholds between the existing architecture and the outside landscape and achieved both the qualitative and quantitative goals of the project. When the initial cost estimates for this scheme came back higher as expected, this scheme ultimately became thought of as a master plan for the site. Rather than compromise the quality of the various parts, it was decided to execute the additions in two separate phases with each requisite part receiving the attention it deserved.
The first phase consisted of a renovation of the house’s public spaces and represented a rethinking of the central portion of the structure. The kitchen, living and dining rooms were substantially reworked within the envelope of the existing house while a new family room, powder room and study were added in the form of a new 542 square foot pavilion that pushed south into the back yard. This living pavilion contained a substantial amount of glass that is protected for the harsh Texas sun by both its broad overhanging roof and the landscape its transparency seeks to embrace. One wall of the pavilion consists of a large folding door that allows for a very direct physical connection between the living room and the back yard. A stone terrace creates an outdoor family room that essentially works as an extension of the one indoors. A second pavilion reworked the entry sequence of the project and introduces the limited palate of materials that will be experienced throughout the project. Because of the owner’s art collection and eclectic selection of furniture, the interior finishes were kept subtle and gallery-like so that the architecture would not compete with these display pieces.
The first phase of the project was completed in March of 2010. The second phase will tackle the bedroom and bathroom wing of the house and add the third pavilion to the overall composition.