In Phoenix, a Renovation Adds a Sleek Expansion to a Historic House

Architecture firm Chen + Suchart carefully balanced architectural deference and boldness when revamping a protected century-old house.

phoenix modern house renovation chen suchart
The modern addition, thanks to its gabled forms, extends organically from the 100-year-old house. Courtesy Winquist Photography

When Phoenix-based Chen + Suchart Studio was asked by a young couple to redesign a 1,100-square-foot English Tudor house in the city’s historic F.Q. Story district, the firm faced a unique challenge. Due to the residence’s historic designation, it was strongly protected against changes large and small—even repainting the facade was out of the question.

“I asked myself, ‘How do you embrace what’s new and what’s [already] there and have those two work together?’” firm cofounder Thamarit Suchart told Metropolis. “Phoenix is a relatively new city,” Suchart added, “so anything that’s considered historic is few and far between, which made these laws challenging to navigate.”

The foremost challenge was getting approval for a rear extension: If the addition wasn’t sympathetic to the architectural scale and form of the neighborhood’s other houses, it would be subjected to a rigorous review. To avoid that, Chen + Suchart’s standing seam metal–clad expansion respected the shape of the house’s existing gabled roofs. Large sliding glass doors, a new patio, and the existing yard combined to create a sweeping indoor-outdoor design.

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phoenix modern house renovation chen suchart
The house’s old attic was removed when the firm reconstructed the house’s roof, creating a voluminous common area. Courtesy Winquist Photography

On the interior, the architects knocked down internal stucco walls and rebuilt the roof but retained the roofline’s original shape. This, in turn, created a capacious new kitchen and living room. The project was completed in 2016 and firm founders Thamarit Suchart and Patricia Szu-Ping Chen Suchart believe it represents a milestone for their practice.

“I think a lot of people would look at…this historic home and say there’s no way we can do anything for this property” Suchart said. “Hopefully this project proves otherwise.”

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