After a devastating fire gutted this two-story townhouse in the 1980s, architect Peter Trapolin capitalized on a rare Central Business District residential opportunity. The shell of the 1835 building remained intact, but the destroyed interior was something of a blank canvas. Trapolin combined his skill for historic preservation with contemporary architecture to redesign this single-family townhouse for his personal use, only three blocks away from his architecture firm’s offices.
Throughout the house, Trapolin emphasizes connections between and through separate rooms. The main door opens onto a corridor that runs the depth of the house, offering visitors a glimpse into the lush rear courtyard from the moment they enter. A restrained material palette and continuous concrete floors link the front formal rooms to the more relaxed, contemporary rear living room and kitchen. Clever use of sightlines and light allow views to the exterior from every room of the ground floor. At the heart of the house a double-height light well with a grand, south-facing window invites direct light to play across the original exposed brick wall and floods the house with ambient light. The lush courtyard, visible already from the front door, is integral to the experience of the house. The rear wall of the house is almost entirely transparent, with a single, uninterrupted eight-foot sliding glass door leading to the garden. The kitchen overlaps the living room and the garden, with building materials that continue from interior to exterior, eroding the sense of separation between inside and outside. Taken together, the house offers an expansive, yet intimate, private retreat from the vibrant city outside. This residence acts as a true microcosm of the best of New Orleans’ architectural experience.