excerpts from Email interview conducted by John Hill for world architects 2013.

What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?


This project came about from the desire to find a new office location for us, and also to generate a new project for us. We eyed a property next door, but the existing building was still used as a upholstery shop. The real estate agent asked if we were interested in an old house right next door. The property was vacant for the last 4 years since the previous owner passed away. There were some roof leaks and lots of water damage.


Can you describe your design process for the building?
This 1939 dwelling, although located in a business district, seemed to be a good candidate for some experimentation. The basement holds a 3-bedroom rental unit, the first floor a 1000-square-foot office, and the second floor a 1250-square-foot living unit. The existing 2×4 construction needed to be updated to a more energy efficient assembly. We chose to play with the idea of adding a polyurethane foam on the exterior side of the stud frame construction. This creates a seamless layer of insulation with a real R-value of R25. It also allows for exposing some of the stud walls to the interior of the space. The roof and walls are covered with a liquid applied membrane for a white finish.
We decided to take the old gable roof off and frame up a new 10′ wall for a full second story. For the bedroom upstairs we pushed the wall 4′ out creating a cover for the existing exterior stairs to the basement below.


How does the completed building compare to the project as designed? Were there any dramatic changes between the two and/or lessons learned during construction?

There were some significant changes to the building design to bring the project in line with the minimal budget. For example, one option with a rooftop deck was explored. The project phasing was also adjusted to the available financing.

snowhaus 4