Clayton & Little Architects’ sensitive treatment of a treasured Roland G. Roessner-designed home is a model for midcentury preservation.
With their three daughters out of the nest, Tracey and David Hime were ready to downsize from their 4,800-square-foot residence to a smaller home closer to central Austin—but then they fell in love with a Roland Gommel Roessner-designed midcentury classic on Balcones Drive that was so compelling, it put their moving plans on hold.
"Even though we knew nothing about midcentury modern, or Roland Roessner, we could tell that a very thoughtful architect had designed the home just by the way the rooms related to each other, the way there were great sightlines," say the couple, who, after purchasing the home from the original owners Shirley and Lansing Thorne in 2013, dove deep into all things midcentury to start a multi-year renovation project.
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In researching the home, the Himes not only learned that Roessner was one of Austin’s premier midcentury architects, but also of the ongoing fight to preserve Roessner’s legacy, which is continually threatened by demolition.
To preserve the original character of the home and sensitively update the structure to meet their needs, the Himes hired Paul Clayton and Emily Little of Clayton & Little Architects on the recommendation of a relative. Architect Emily Little’s involvement was particularly fitting—her childhood home was on the same street, and she had been familiar with the house most of her life; in fact, her parents were friends with the original owners.
"The homeowners were deeply involved at every step in the process," says Little. "We started together studying the original house plans and early photos provided by the owners’ daughter who grew up in the house. Once the Himes began understanding midcentury design principles, they were on board for the truest renovation we could achieve while meeting their needs as well as energy codes."
At 1,773 square feet, the midcentury home’s original footprint was nearly a third of the size of the Himes’ former home and needed to be enlarged to better accommodate their needs.
In the year spent developing the renovation plans, the architects designed two extensions—an office and utility room to the north side and a two-bed, one-bath guesthouse to the south—that were purposefully set back from the existing structure and imperceptible from the historic front view of the home. The original layout inside the house was retained save for the two bedrooms that were combined to create the master suite.
Before: Living Room
After: Living Room
Once the design plans for the enlarged 2,680-square-foot home were complete, the Himes brought on Burnish & Plumb Construction to bring their vision to life. Led by partner Brent McDonald, the one-year construction process saw careful salvaging and reuse of original material wherever possible.
Before: Kitchen and Dining Room
After: Kitchen and Dining Room
The exterior envelope was also fully retrofitted for an airtight seal, which included new insulation for the roof and walls as well as new, double-glazed windows.
Before: Family Room
After: Family Room
The two-year renovation earned the project a 2017 Preservation Austin Merit Award for Rehabilitation and Addition, and the home was recently spotlighted in last year’s AIA Austin Homes Tour.
"We have done several midcentury renovations, but none on such a fine architectural example in original condition," says Clayton and Little. "Roessner projects are a favorite."