“The brick quoins at the edges of the house are still rusticated—still made of brick,” Stengel says. “The refined wood surfaces near the door invite people to touch them.” They also help to unify the faade’s appearance by referencing the profile of the quoins.
As an expert in classical architecture, Stengel drew upon his extensive knowledge to establish the front entry as the home’s main focal point and develop a clear hierarchy of primary and subordinate forms. According to Stengel, using classical Doric order design made sense because “the existing home’s detailing was basic, not exuberant.”
Retaining and Blending Features
To achieve the “beauty and economy” desired by the owners, Stengel also had to determine which existing details to retain and how to efficiently blend these with new architectural features. For example, gutters are not historically included in classically designed buildings. However, they are absolutely necessary in Nashville’s climate where several inches of rain can fall in a single hour. Although Stengel would have preferred to remove the gutters and fascia and extend the entablature across the front faade, the project’s budget did not accommodate this.
The final design keeps the existing fascia and references the dentils of the home’s brick cornice with the modillions and other details of the new entry’s entablature. The cyma (upturned edge) and corona (vertical surface with soffit) of the entry porch’s cornice are visually and physically integrated with the gutters. Storm water runs off the roof of the entry addition into a trough behind the cyma, down pipes routed through the Doric columns, and into an underground drainage system.
Deferred maintenance issues were folded into the scope of the faade renovation and addressed by replacing the existing roof, gutters and jack arches. The new jack arches are made of limestone as are the base of the new porch and stone steps.
The technical complexity of the design required meticulous execution by Huseby Homes’ team of carpenters and specialized subcontractors. “Each piece of wood had to be carefully and properly installed,” Huseby says. “If one piece was out of place or slightly off, the proportions of the ‘golden section’ would be negatively affected.”
Simply assembling all of the custom-milled pieces for this project was an extraordinary feat. “One day, one of the owners came out and started counting the individual pieces of wood,” Huseby says. “He stopped when he realized he might be there half the day calculating the quantities.” In the end, it took more than 2,000 pieces of wood to construct the entry addition and complete related faade alterations.
Huseby Homes’ team achieved the necessary precision through the use of 3-D modeling and other sophisticated technology combined with field verification and the work of highly skilled carpenters and craftsmen.
Technology and Classic Columns
“Our excavator used satellite technology that could pinpoint a location down to the diameter of a nail head to make sure the drainpipes could properly connect to the inbound gutter system,” Huseby says. The Doric columns also had to be perfectly placed to achieve symmetry for the rounded roof of the entry porch, which, in turn, had to be attached to the existing home so the trough cut behind the cyma of the entablature aligned with the reinstalled gutters.
Huseby Homes’ lead master carpenter, Steve Walker, met with the staff at Nashville-based Vintage Millworks Inc. more than a dozen times to plan the angles and cuts for the new entry entablature. This allowed the project team to build this piece on the computer before beginning any work in the field.
“Every time I work with the staff at Vintage, we have had a beautiful concept that faces challenges in the application,” Walker says. “So we have to figure out how to make the concept work with the existing conditions. This takes teamwork between the artist at the desk and the artist at the site. Vintage created a 3-D computer model that allowed us to look at the design from all angles—to rotate it and even view it from behind—so we could work out any kinks in advance.” For example, the project team resolved how to build the trough for the inbound gutters and get water from the drainage system to the pipes in the columns without cutting through the classical entablature. A mistake would have meant the loss of expensive materials and required extra time to recreate the millwork.