Addition to “G” House
project name : Addition to “G” House
location : Scarsdale, New York
year of design: 1987-1988
client: Name withheld at owner’s request
architect: George Ranalli
associates: Robert Silman Structural Engineer
design team: Nina Hofer, Donna Cohen
photographer: Model Photos: George Ranalli
There are few locales less compatible with modern architecture than a colonial village. Yet in one such leafy suburb, a couple sought modern architectural relief for the discomforts and inconveniences of their beloved 1920s Garrison colonial, which included limited storage space and insufficient natural light.
Located in Scarsdale, New York, the house is a modest but stately building situated amidst houses twice or three times its size. The surrounding landscape is verdant and punctuated with spots of color provided by magnificent flowers. The house is set in the middle of the lot, and presents itself to the street with three dormers on axis and a more casually disposed assortment of windows and doors below the dormers. The existing rear of the house was even more casual, suggesting an extension to remedy the family’s need for additional room. Expansion is constrained by the fact that the tiny lot was already at maximum allowable coverage.
The project proposed a larger, brighter kitchen, a new family room, an upper story study, and a landscape design for a garden patio. The new second-story element relates to the existing board-andbatten structure in size, scale, and materiality (for example, its exterior aligns with the existing horizontal batten). Inside, the new design liberates the tiny, dark kitchen from its previous service function, providing it with space enough for casual dining beneath a gazebolike
stretch of skylight and with windows open to natural light and garden views. A spacious new family room shimmers in reflected daylight through an arrangement of tiny windows that animate the walls and ceiling with sparkle. In addition to the new upstairs study near the master bedroom, the design provides for a private rooftop terrace accessed by way of a hush-hush interior stair.
The exterior boundaries compose a figural field. An alcove links the passageway between parking garage and kitchen door; a niche door in the family room opens onto the patio-garden. The landscape design includes a water element, as rainwater falling from whimsical copper roof scuppers fills stone basins before flowing through delicate stone troughs into a central cistern.
When a family loves the sense of stability that comes with an old house, but not the discomforts, an architectural remedy must consider what is essential to home life. In order to renew the reciprocity between home and family, old and new, elements are merged through subtle interconnections that neither juxtaposition of old and new nor simply replicate the vernacular. In this case, crucial to linking the structures is the establishment of a balance between the rhythm and order of old and new by a careful alignment with existing openings and with the general block volume of the house. The addition also organizes the garden space and includes the landscape in the total composition.