Plural’s addition to this 1936 home in the Hyde Park Historic Landmark District appends two stories and 1,200 square feet to the rear of a single-story bungalow, expanding and infusing newness into the existing house with restraint and elegance. Thick black trim, exposed rafter tails, and bold eaves unite new and old, while wood infill, steel canopies, and large openings give the addition its own contemporary presence.
Inside, the kitchen and dining area bridge the gap between historic and contemporary. To achieve this flow, the rear wall of the existing bungalow came down to make room for an open space with a raised ceiling. That space has been reconfigured into a kitchen and dining area that spills out to the living room and leads upstairs, to the primary suite. There, the amenities in the primary bath have been maxed out, with the space for the shower and bathtub extending to twelve feet, providing a sense of space and comfort not always found in historic homes.
The house now also features a side entry that leads to a small office, with its own full bath and a compact laundry room. Here an archway opens to an entertainment room that maintains its own sense of separation, since it’s most directly accessible from the house’s side.
Plural’s work in Austin has included other additions to homes over 50 years old–but this one is in the National Register of Historic Places, and Hyde Park is a neighborhood very attuned to how its appearance contributes to its surroundings. Of course, not everyone believes there should be historic neighborhoods that have consistent character, and in a city that’s growing exponentially, with a pressing need for affordable housing, the role of historic preservation is complex.
Still, when it’s sensible, retaining existing structures is a low-carbon alternative to demolition and new construction, and in this case, historicity wasn’t something Plural could ignore. To redesign, city standards had to be met, and a permit had to be acquired. In November 2022 our Director of Architecture, Josh Carel, presented before Austin’s Historic Landmark Commission, a board that strives to preserve the character of some of the city’s oldest districts and structures. Ultimately, when the votes came in, the project was a go.