A Steel-and-Glass Addition With a Giant Hangar Door Maximizes Indoor/Outdoor Living

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By Anna Jones / Published by Dwell
In Chicago's Wicker Park, the conversion of a two-flat Italianate building into a single-family home calls for a modern, steel-and-glass rear addition—complete with a hangar door and rooftop retreat.

Led by Chicago architecture firm dSpace Studio, the design focus was to maintain the traditional facade in compliance with historic regulations while updating the interior, and adding a modern addition to the back of the home that seamlessly integrated interior and exterior spaces. A balance of the modern and traditional, seamlessly connected through vertical and horizontal circulations, proved to be the result. 

Inspiration for the addition came from an English architectural form where the clients used to live: a steel-and-glass conservatory known as an "orangery," a greenhouse specifically for orange trees. Steel, glass, and concrete build the two-story volume of the extension, which maintains a direct connection to the outdoors via an operable 17-foot glass hangar door. Interior staircases and catwalks connect to an exterior spiral staircase, ultimately leading to a private, landscaped, rooftop deck with all the necessary luxuries of an urban retreat. 

A Steel-and-Glass Addition With a Giant Hangar Door Maximizes Indoor/Outdoor Living - Photo 1 of 9 - Here, the steel-and-glass addition is closed, protected from the winter cold. 

Here, the steel-and-glass addition is closed, protected from the winter cold. 

A Steel-and-Glass Addition With a Giant Hangar Door Maximizes Indoor/Outdoor Living - Photo 2 of 9 - With the hangar door open, you can see the historic brick wall of the original house beyond. 

With the hangar door open, you can see the historic brick wall of the original house beyond. 

A Steel-and-Glass Addition With a Giant Hangar Door Maximizes Indoor/Outdoor Living - Photo 3 of 9 - A rendering of the urban rooftop retreat displays the integral hot tub, built-in planters, greenery, and wood screen elements. 

A rendering of the urban rooftop retreat displays the integral hot tub, built-in planters, greenery, and wood screen elements. 

A Steel-and-Glass Addition With a Giant Hangar Door Maximizes Indoor/Outdoor Living - Photo 4 of 9 - A diagrammatic building section displays, in orange, the spaces that have been modified, including the two-story modern addition, the crawlspace of the existing home, and a light-filled atrium that spills daylight into the historic home. 

A diagrammatic building section displays, in orange, the spaces that have been modified, including the two-story modern addition, the crawlspace of the existing home, and a light-filled atrium that spills daylight into the historic home. 

Warmth is aesthetically introduced through red oak stair treads and ceiling panels, and physically introduced through a hanging FireOrb. With the ability to rotate 180 degrees, the heating unit connects and blends the interior and exterior living spaces, protecting the owners from frigid Chicago winters. 

In addition to sleek design, the architects focused on sustainable methodologies, including recycled materials, LED lighting, solar hot water, and radiant floor heating.  

A Steel-and-Glass Addition With a Giant Hangar Door Maximizes Indoor/Outdoor Living - Photo 5 of 9 - The interior living space is warmed by the wood panels above and a hanging fireplace.

The interior living space is warmed by the wood panels above and a hanging fireplace.

A Steel-and-Glass Addition With a Giant Hangar Door Maximizes Indoor/Outdoor Living - Photo 6 of 9 - The polished concrete floor resembles the limestone pavers on the exterior, enhancing the continuous connection between inside and outside.

The polished concrete floor resembles the limestone pavers on the exterior, enhancing the continuous connection between inside and outside.

A Steel-and-Glass Addition With a Giant Hangar Door Maximizes Indoor/Outdoor Living - Photo 7 of 9 - Gears allow the large, mechanical door to open with the turn of a crank. 

Gears allow the large, mechanical door to open with the turn of a crank. 

A Steel-and-Glass Addition With a Giant Hangar Door Maximizes Indoor/Outdoor Living - Photo 8 of 9 - Simple, modern details frame the catwalks and stairways that connect the spaces vertically and laterally.  A grated walk allows light to penetrate further into the space. 

Simple, modern details frame the catwalks and stairways that connect the spaces vertically and laterally.  A grated walk allows light to penetrate further into the space. 

A Steel-and-Glass Addition With a Giant Hangar Door Maximizes Indoor/Outdoor Living - Photo 9 of 9 -