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A great idea...but a disappointing result
by Katy Purviance on 12/31/08 @ 01:25:59 pm
Categories: Grad School | 564 words | 2417 views

So these two USC architecture students bought a 100-year-old Victorian house a block away from campus and built an addition to its backside.

I think this is fantastic. I want to buy something and built on it asap.

“This project is a modern 1200 square foot addition onto the rear of a hundred year old Victorian home a block away from the University of Southern California. Over the years, the interior of the existing house had slowly been partitioned off to become a duplex with dormitory type accommodations for students. Programmatically, the new addition sought to add a large common social space as well as two extra bedrooms to each unit. In order to respect the proportions and architectural character of the Victorian, old and new were kept at bay by a five-foot wide clear polycarbonate annex which served to resolve all sectional circulation connections between old and new.

As the area surrounding the University becomes denser given the increase in demand for housing, many older homes are being demolished to make way for larger apartment blocks. In this scenario, this addition prevented the waste and demolition of the older house and reappropriated its use to accommodate the areas demand for higher occupancy. Ultimately, it is greener to find creative ways to upgrade and reuse existing structures than to demolish and build new.

This project is owned and was developed by two students at the University of Southern California. Christopher Megowan, one of the two students/owners, designed the project while still studying at the School of Architecture. Purchased as a student housing investment, the addition was constructed on a tight budget at less than 130 dollars a square foot.

The addition was designed as efficiently as possible in order to not complicate construction and reduce material waste. Designed on materials grid, the main volume of the addition was detailed from the exterior 4′x8′ fiber cement panels and polycarbonate in. Given the “urban” nature of the property and context in the rear (the addition is adjacent to parking and an alley), light and air were prioritized over a view. The design provides more evenly filtered natural light at a fraction of the price of glass. Further, in a neighborhood with bars over the windows of most homes, the polycarbonate provides much more security than glass. Light and air are separated into two functions as ventilation flaps seamlessly clad in the fiber cement panel and two operable skylights allow for air to pass through and promote passive ventilation.

The polycarbonate walls are wired in between studs to accommodate lighting that would allow for the walls to glow (the initial intent was that color changing LEDs would be placed between the studs to allow the walls to change color, however this solution proved too costly). In using the fiber cement panel rainscreen, thermally stabilizing concrete floors on the lower unit, and the polycarbonate, this addition was able to be constructed at a price per square foot competitive with stucco and other less desirable finishes.

The interior volumes benefit from tall ceilings and open spatial flow between the existing house, the annex and the common rooms of the addition. The bedrooms each have a wall of sliding doors providing privacy between spaces and enclosing the closets that serve as a sound barrier to the common spaces.”
USC-School of Architecture [Official Site]

Sounds great, right?

But…

Look…

Victorian Home Addition Near USC

Ughhhh

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places where you could probably learn more about designing and building in just a few days than I did after a year of grad school

Know of some others I can add here? Let me know. Have you already visited some of these places...or planning on it? Let me know and I will feature your story and your photos here!

I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.

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