Architecture AF Office
2017 Historic Richmond Golden Hammer
2019 AIA Richmond Honor Award
Although this double house dates back to the 19th century, a fire destroyed the front half of this Two Street building half a century ago. Because the original Queen Anne front facade was destroyed, the building is considered non-contributing to the historic Jackson Ward neighborhood in Richmond (and thus ineligible for the historic tax credits that have helped revive so much of urban Virginia). As the architect and developer of this project, our office began with a question: how do you infill a midblock building in a way that enriches a blighted neighborhood while simultaneously recognizing that place’s economic restraints? With a tight budget, we used this project to explore how a historic building could be re-imagined to be both contextual and of its time – not necessarily bound to the standards outlined by the Secretary of the Interior.
It seemed appropriate to restore the historic use – live / work – and retain the massing of the original building so as to keep the scale of the neighborhood consistent. We rebuilt the second floor with the same massing as the building next door – a nod to the building’s original form of a double house. We also took cues from the playfulness of the neighborhood’s Queen Anne Victorian architecture, adding a modern dormer with two skylights where the historic conical turret was. By using different, contemporary materials but in an arrangement and massing similar to the double house next door, the project revives the original relationship between the two structures, but with a new, interesting dialogue.
This dialogue with the neighborhood was amplified by opening the storefront to the street. The City of Richmond’s Arts District Facade Program subsidized and made possible the installation of an 8’x11’ floor to ceiling frameless storefront with a ceramic fritted screen that provides some privacy and more visual interest to the street scape.