Thursday, November 01, 2012

Piazza Arriba!

Q and A with Jane Treacy of Treacy and Eagleburger Architects, PC  
By Beth Herman

Desiring a new kitchen and family room that fed into a garden space, Chevy Chase, Md. homeowners were also dealing with a deteriorating garage and non-existent backyard aesthetic. DCMud spoke with architect Jane Treacy of Treacy and Eagleburger Architects PC about reimagining the space to include a rooftop terrace—atop the garage.

DCMud: Describe the challenges of this project, which was both a renovation and new construction.

Treacy: When we came to the project—a bungalow built circa the early 1920s—there were multiple issues. These included an existing garage off the alley, which is about 8 feet down from the first floor. The yard itself was not at the exact same height as the first floor—it was reasonably higher. They wanted to keep the two-car garage, though it was falling down and popped up above grade—a bit of an albatross in the backyard/garden.

DCMud: What were the first steps?

Treacy: When we considered the family room addition, we placed it down a couple of steps so it could feed out to the garden level. We dropped the whole roof of the garage down by using a concrete slab for its roof to condense the height as much as possible and to get it to be at that same level.

DCMud: So the idea was to walk straight out and be on the roof of the garage.

Treacy: Yes, and we also terraced the stone paving over the roof. When the discussion arose about a screened porch, we decided to put it all the way at the back of the site, over the roof, and made an edge to the patio. It creates this kind of urban courtyard—a piazza. The area between the house and the screened porch is about 600 s.f. and the porch itself is 180 s.f.

DCMud: So to be clear, when you’re in the piazza with its screened porch and stone terrace, you’re on the roof of the garage.

Treacy: The terrace is half over the garage, and half over earth. So much of the design had to do with being able to pull the cars in from the alley, and then build over the top with the screen porch at the back of the terrace. There is also an enclosed stair that goes straight down into the garage.

DCMud: How did you create the family room?

Treacy: The kitchen, which we also renovated, is on the main level of the original house, and we stepped things down two steps into the family room. This allowed us to get a nice ceiling height in there—about 10 feet—and make that room very much a part of the garden space in the back. Three tall French doors with clerestory windows support the notion.

Treacy: The owners are ardent gardeners, so being able to push a really nice space into the garden as well as have a screened space out there was important. Following construction, they developed a beautiful, festive garden that integrates the space.

DCMud: You and your husband Phillip have produced such a vast body of residential work. Is there a particular D.C. architect who truly influenced you from the beginning?

Treacy: It would have to be mid-century modernist architect David Condon, who created Hollin Hills in Alexandria among other special properties. I have always been inspired by everything from his shed roofs to his fresh modern style.


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