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Urban Reinterpretation

Marcy Marro, Posted 08/01/2008

Gerard Damiani, AIA, NCARB, and Debbie Battistone designed their new 2,400-square-foot (223-m2) residence and office for their company, studio d'ARC, as a reinterpretation of the traditional Pittsburgh rowhouse. Located within a dense urban neighborhood in Pittsburgh's South Side, the house is in an area known for steel mills, glass foundries and industrial structures, according to Damiani.

"We were very interested in building near the old Duquesne Brewery," Damiani said. "This area is very interesting because it has a large-scale industrial building alongside of a number of row houses."

Built between two 19th century townhomes, the residence incorporates an open floor plan that includes a kitchen, dining and living area on the first floor and a dramatic two-story skylit volume that connects visually to the open studio on the second floor. A glass and steel bridge connects the studio to the bedroom and bath on the second floor. A remote-controlled skylight over the dining space allows for abundant lighting during the day, in addition to thermal cooling.

The interior is a combination of maple floors, cabinets and windows; exposed concrete block; drywall; and exposed steel. The exterior features steel, mahogany and asphalt shingles to connect to the surrounding residential and industrial neighborhood.


"We selected metal on the exterior to create a dialogue with the neighboring brewery loading facility located directly across the street," Damiani said. "Also, from our sidewalk, you can see the USX tower, formerly the U.S. Steel Tower (a building clad exclusively in COR-TEN), located in downtown Pittsburgh."

The steel siding was created from 400 square feet (37 m2) of 2 2/3- by 1/2-inch (68- by 13-mm) COR-TEN corrugated weathered steel from Corrugated Metals Inc., Belvidere, Ill. The rooftop vestibule is clad with 180 square feet (17 m2) of Galvalume Thin Seam metal roof panels installed vertically from Fabral, Lancaster, Pa. The back elevation has some Galvalume trims, downspouts and gutters. COR-TEN steel plate was used for window and door extensions, as well as to create a fireplace enclosure in the rear garden. A W-section of COR-TEN also was used in the rear garden to create a log rack.

The home also features an Asian-inspired garden that can be accessed directly from the open living room and an upper level roof terrace that provides dramatic views of the city. All these features combined to help Damiani and Battistone bring new meaning to what used to be Pittsburgh tradition.


Live/Work Studio, Pittsburgh

-Award: 2008 AIA Housing Award for One and Two Family Custom Residence
-Architect: studio D'ARC architects PC, Pittsburgh,
-General contractor: studio d'ARC architects, along with Smith Construction, Gibsonia, Pa.
-Steel fabricator: Keystone Metals Inc., Pittsburgh
-Steel siding: Corrugated Metals Inc., Belvidere, Ill.,
-Roofing: Fabral, Lancaster, Pa.,;;

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