The Childhood Home of America's Greatest Playwright

Restoring a building of cultural significance in an underserved neighborhood

During Autumn and Winter 2016, Ivy worked with the Urban Design Build Studio, an organization that allows students to realize real-world projects in underserved communities in the greater Pittsburgh area through a design-build. Working in partnership with Pfaffman + Associates, the UDBS set to a historically sensitive and respectful restoration of the front facade of the childhood home of world renowned playwright and Pittsburgh-native August Wilson on behalf of the building's new tenant: The Daisy Wilson Artist Community.

UDBS students split the front facade into components and assigned teams to each. Ivy was responsible for the research and design of the upper cornice, box gutter, and roofing details. She worked in close coordination with the students working on the upper brackets and window hoods to ensure consistency in construction and detailing.

All design on the August Wilson House was handled by undergraduate architecture students, with consulting and administration from Masters students of construction management to build project schedules and budgets.


Assembly Details

The design of the restored upper cornice and box gutter was the result of analysis of the existing building, historic precedent in Pittsburgh buildings of a similar era and type of construction as well as Victorian pattern book research, and consultation with Pfaffman + Associate's in-house preservation expert Jeff Slack.

Wall Sections

Wall sections were designed to flexible and relative, taking into consideration the variables and oddities encountered in the field. Details integrated historically-accurate details with modern flashing and roofing systems to allow for a facade that maintained a historically respectful appearance while ensuring effective and long-lasting building performance.


Moulding Details

Lumber for the project was sourced from Allegheny Millworks, with whom Ivy coordinated to determine the best methods of acquiring historically accurate mouldings within budget. Ultimately a mix of pre-fabricated and custom mouldings were used to detail the front of the new box gutter.


New Technology - Old Building

Autodesk generously partenered on the project, providing a 3D photogrammetric capture of the existing building through their ReCap 360 product. This capture was used in the early stages of design to estimate existing conditions with reasonable accuracy, allowing for the dimensioning of the building and cost estimates of construction to take place early in design. This allowed for field measurements to be folded into the construction process, which allowed for a shorter period of construction and lower costs.


Historic Research

Historic research was used to determine design methods through examination of the existing building (left), pattern book research (center), and historic photos of the building (right). Together these clues provided the necessary information on scale, detailing, and assembly to just reasoning behind a historically accurate design.


Paint Research

In the course of design, existing elements were found to have been repainted a number of times, but selective removal revealed a general idea of the buildings original colors. Cross-Examined with paint palettes from the era of relevance and other restored Pittsburgh row-houses, paint schemes were developed for the facade.


Code Compliance

In order to size the actual copper gutter piece, it was necessary to perform a code analysis using the 2015 International Building Code (IBC) and 2015 International Plumbing Code (IPC). This analysis went as follows:


As stipulated in Section 1503.4 of the 2015 IBC, focused on Roof Drainage, the following criteria were used to determine code compliance in the design of the August Wilson House roof drainage system at the south facade.

As stipulated in criteria of IPC Code Sections 1106 and 1108, as applicable, must be utilized in the sizing of conductors, leaders, and storm drains; and secondary (emergency) roof drains.

As demonstrated in Figure 1006.1 for the Eastern United States of the 2015 IPC, the 100-Year, 1-Hour rainfall for Pittsburgh is 2.75".

To calculate the gpm (gallons per minute) capacity of the portion of of the roof within the scope of work, the following calculataions were used: 21.5' x 17.167' = 370 sq. ft*

Assuming a coefficient of runoff of 1.00 for the roofing surface , and where 96.23 is the constant used to convert units from from cubic feet per second to gallons per minute: (1.00 x 2.75 x 370) / 96.23 = 10.57 gpm

As demonstrated in Figure 1106.3 of the 2015 IPC, the minimum size leader usable is 2" which has a capacity of 30gpm.

As demonstrated in Figure 1106.6. of the 2015 IPC, the minimum gutter size we may use is 1 1/2" wide and 1 1/2" deep gutter system, which has a capacity of 26gpm.

*All roof distances are measure as horizontal projections of the surface