UIC Presents Contemporary Historic Courtyard Home Infill for Soulard

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook202Share on Reddit16Share on LinkedIn1Print this pageEmail this to someone

1009-1013 Allen by UIC

Last week, develop-design-build company UIC revealed plans for two $1.3M contemporary homes in suburban Creve Coeur. But fear not, the company known for its Botanical Grove development and other urban infill, has posted a conceptual plan for what we may call contemporary historic infill.

Images show the rehab of 1009 Allen Avenue in historic Soulard, and two new single-family homes. The appeal of the plan in two-fold. The infill at 1013 Allen carries the historic Soulard form, but with recessed entry and second floor balcony, as well as a contemporary dormer.

The greatest appeal of the design is the third home that sits behind the other two on the deep urban lot. Not only does the form smartly add residential density to a great urban neighborhood, it very clearly echoes the traditional development form of historic Soulard. If you want to learn more, check out the authoritative and scholarly “St. Louis: The Evolution of an American Urban Landscape“.

Such a design proposal in the past could have been predicted to run afoul of the city’s Cultural Resources Office and the Soulard Historic District Ordinance. But things are changing. Recently, the CRO produced a report titled “New Construction Standards Based on Compatibility”. The point of the report was to highlight compatible new construction in contrast to comparable and replicative design.

The push to address the issue grew from frustration that poorly designed and constructed historic replica buildings could easily fit historic district guidelines while high quality and well designed alliterative infill could not. What this has meant in a practical sense is that a proposal with a roofline, dormer window, facade material, or front door placement that didn’t replicate its neighbors couldn’t get approved, while a building of poor quality could win approval by checking off boxes for historic replica dimensions and elements.

UIC is one of the firms that has consistently pushed the boundaries of historic district ordinances. Its recent plan for Benton Park infill presented an historic form with contemporary elements. Killeen Studio has been pushing for more design freedom in historic neighborhoods as well, most recently also in Benton Park.

The Soulard Concept from UIC:  This historic renovation and construction of 2 new single-family homes on 2 lots was conceived for the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis city. By occupying the rear yard with the 3rd house, this development recreates the original 19th century condition of social clustering through courtyard living.

As envisioned by then real estate developer Thomas Allen, the creation of rear-entry units accessed through a courtyard allowed extended families of immigrants to live both together and separate. In this 20th Century incarnation, the courtyards create generous thresholds and outdoor recreation spaces that include areas for gardening, screened-in porches, and a fire pit.

To preserve the context of the neighborhood, all 3 houses are brick with simple pitched roofs and a 3rd story dormer. The homes are each 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath,with open living and dining areas. The courtyard configuration allows for natural daylight and connection to the outdoors on the sides.

1009-1013 Allen by UIC

1009-1013 Allen by UIC1009-1013 Allen Avenue_Soulard1009-1013 Allen Avenue_Soulard

Recent infill proposals in Benton Park by UIC and Killeen Studio:

2858-62 Indiana facade drawingIndiana2

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook202Share on Reddit16Share on LinkedIn1Print this pageEmail this to someone
  • Avo Cat

    Looks like a garage on the alley. Always a good idea for several reasons: cuts down on car break-ins; fewer cars at the curb makes pedestrians safer, allows kids to play in the street, and allows your visitors to park easily; and makes the home more attractive for car-owning residents.

    Many city neighborhoods have tons of unused garages, I think the city should somehow encourage their renovation and use.

  • Lillian Thompson

    Very nice! I hope we see more of this! I read the proposed guidelines for new construction infill. I am concerned when people like the CRO director say things like vinyl should not be disallowed (which she said in the last Preservation Board meeting). I lived in New Orleans and they allowed hardiboard in back which looks very like wood siding and holds up extremely well. Hopefully STL will see the wisdom of solutions like this. The new guidelines also say that the backs of buildings with siding should face alleys, which the big apartment complex planned for 9th and Victor does not–that block of 9th Street will in essence become an alley. Too bad. Anyway, the UIC model for infill looks great! Thanks for posting!

  • gmichaud

    Interesting to note that the second lot in from 8th and Allen had one of the few distinct examples of three totally separate two story buildings on one lot.(across from St Peter and Paul, sorry I don’t remember the address). Unfortunately it is gone. there are still a few more examples around I believe, usually connected over the years. None were as robust of an example as these three buildings on a single lot.
    I previously owned 915 to 923 Geyer, it is now the longest continuous set of separate front and rear buildings left in the city, forming a large courtyard. I bought them in the late seventies and rebuilt a whole front wall on one to save the double row. (and put new roofs on 5 of the 7 of the buildings etc). At that time there were numerous other rows of double buildings including the previous mentioned Allen that was part of row of front and rear buildings that went almost to the middle of the block.
    Visit the central courtyard on Geyer, there are a few gangways to the rear that will get you to the space.
    For me it was a lesson in ways a dense city can create many different and private environments.
    That and how in the original city each lot was an economic engine. This included changing street facades from commercial to residential and back depending on need.
    The rear houses are fascinating.

  • Guest

    Great contemporary design that honors the classic look…and all brick…! The third house in back…bravo…! I like it. No, I love it. Excellent, UIC

  • Those look wonderful. Would rent an apartment in one of those in a heartbeat…if, you know, it wasn’t single-family. 🙁

    I love the use of space with the carriage house. More of that please!

    The only thing I might change is the balcony — would like to see a wrought-iron guard rather than an open square. That extra little touch would seal the deal as a worthy modern addition to Soulard.

  • Presbyterian

    These look great. As they begin construction, I’ll be sure to have my tape measure on me so I can measure window openings. We don’t want a repeat of the mixed-use with the tiny windows that they did on Manchester. A good design like this calls for equally good execution.

  • Adam

    where would the property lines be in this configuration?