Pittsburgh is building itself a nice little reputation as one of America’s hippest cities.  Once engulfed in deadly fog of pollution from industrial steel mills, the Pennsylvania metropolis has since undergone a dramatic environmental transformation.  A collective drive to clean up rivers, air, and brownfields and the creation of greener buildings has helped to revive not only the city’s economy, but also it’s innovative spirit.  One such project that fully represents this spirit is found in the industrial South Side of town, Studio d’ARC architects’ Live/Work Studio II…

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, the Live/Work Studio II does in fact house both a residence and office.  Studio d’ARC’s own Gerard Damiani and Debbie Battistone use this 2,400 sq ft multi-purpose dwelling as a showcase of their creative prowess… they jam-packed a whole-lotta goodness in the 20-by-70-foot infill lot that they purchased in between two 19th century brick homes.  Being surrounded by buildings of differing generations is often seen as a challenge when trying to implement modern architecture… the duo at d’ARC however saw this as an opportunity, drawing inspiration from their immediate surroundings.  The weathered steel and mahogany of the front facade pay homage to architectural elements nearby and help to create a visual bridge to its brick-clad neighbors…

Working on a 20 ft wide lot would also seem like a stretch for most architects.  Again, d’ARC decided to turn lemons into lemonade, carving out a dynamic and light-filled interior from the narrow lot…

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Light colored walls and natural wood cabinetry really give the space a warm and open feeling, and a glass walkway directly above the kitchen floods the first floor with natural light from a rooftop skylight…

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On the second floor, the Pittsburgh pair designed a compact office suite, maximizing storage by embedding built-in shelves next to the stairwell.  They also incorporated a nice architectural balance of finished materials by using cinder blocks, white paint and natural wood.  By limiting their material palette to these three key ingredients, a sense of simplicity and order further contributes to visually opening the space up…

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Here’s another angle of the glass walkway, which sits directly above the kitchen and separates the office from the master suite…

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The furniture in this master bedroom was custom built to gain the most functionality and maintain the continuity of finished materials… and their dog wouldn’t accept anything less than a custom-designed bed.

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And working our way up to the rooftop, we find a beautiful patio great for bbqs and entertaining… The South Side abode overlooks a bustling downtown over the Monongahela River, a visual treat for the architects who worked so hard designing and building their home and studio…

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photos by Massery Photography

Out back is an Asian-inspired garden, complete with a Sweetbay magnolia tree… large windows on the first floor connect this garden with the heart of the home.

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And here is a floor plan of the project, showing us how resourceful the layout really is.

All in all, an incredible project that proves that small or unwanted urban lots can be developed beautifully and efficiently… The pair at Studio d’ARC really did an amazing job of stretching the 2,400 sq ft, with the result being an urban haven that is home, office and garden… I could dig on a set up like this for myself, and with the project budget sitting around $350,000, it’s not completely out of reach!

-j

About Joshua Foss


Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.