Castleberry Loft Renovation

Castleberry Loft Renovation

Site Satalite

Site Location Plan

The existing building is typical of Atlanta’s Castleberry neighborhood. It’s a long, narrow, two story, 5,000 square foot warehouse with windows on the front and back. The front faces Walker Street. Car access is via an abandoned rail line which serves as an alley behind the building. Due to the lot line to line construction there are no windows on either side creating a dark interior.

Site Birds Eye

View of existing building looking south

Since the mid 1990’s buildings like this, which make up the bulk of the building stock is Castleberry, have been slowly converted into art galleries, condominiums, restaurants, offices, studios, and homes. When the clients, bought this building it was almost unlivable. The first thing they did was create a live work space in the front third of the building with an office on the ground floor and an open loft living space above

After living with this arrangement for a few years they decided their living space was too small and didn’t give them enough privacy when they had overnight guest. They wanted to expand into the back two thirds of the building with a guest bedroom and new master suite. They also asked for roof access for a future deck, and an atrium to introduce light into the interior of the building. The budget was a modest $90 square foot.

Existing conditions – Walker Street elevation showing work from previous renovation, unoccupied part of first floor, unoccupied part of second floor, rear elevation showing garage entrance and existing mural

The challenge in most renovations is to squeeze a lot of program into a small space. We had the opposite problem on this project. We had two much space. The program would only fill half of the available space, and to have access to day light the new rooms would have to be located at the opposite end of the building. This would leave a large, dark, useless space in the middle of the building. Adding a typical atrium and skylights would have relive the darkness, but it would still feel like an empty leftover.

plan 2

I worked collaboratively with the clients and contractor. We talked, we sketched, we talked some more. Ideas pieced together as each of us provided insight. During an early meeting  we were trying to layout the new rooms so that the feeling of wasted empty space would be eliminated. We kept trying to stretch and rearrange the rooms to fill the space, but nothing worked. Either the rooms were too big and didn’t feel comfortable and home like or we had a big leftover space that was wasteful, unpleasant and awkward. Finally, out of frustration, one of the client’s said “All we want is to see beauty everywhere we look”. It was a breakthrough. We couldn’t eliminate the extra space, but we could make it a virtue by creating a rich three dimensional composition that mixed solids and voids to create a variety of forms, spaces and lighting effects, which, we hoped, would be beautiful.

Model 4

We started by drawing lines on a map that connected the site to various locations that were important to the client and then translating those angles onto the floor plan to create a subjective grid which embedded the clients’ lives into the fabric of the building. The subjective framework insured that the new forms would always have a distinct, irregular and imprecise relationship to the existing building, that they would float in the existing space. I then created a conceptual computer model that showed how the grid could be used to create new rooms, how the rooms could be formed into objects floating in the existing space, and how those objects transformed the space around them into a cohesive design.

Model 3

What we ended up with is an open first floor that fills many of the functions a backyard might (gatherings, playing games, lingering in the sun etc.), with a series of pods floating above it like clouds. The whole arrangement was lit by a series of new skylights.

Model 2

To create the pods we simply cut away the floor and existing structure where we didn’t need it leaving irregular gaps and openings, almost like gaps of sky on a partially cloudy day. We carefully shaped the pods to give each one privacy, but to also allow views across the space to preserve the open character of the building. We added windows to allow light in and views out. To add drama and light to the first floor, we indirectly illuminated the underside of the pods. This also created an inversion between day and night. The dark underside of the pods during the day would become bright at night, while the skylights above would shift from light in the daytime to dark at night.

Model View 1

Near the end of construction we spent most of our weekly progress meeting simply hanging out, chatting and watching the shadows on the walls. The space was beautiful, and we just enjoyed being in it.

E:Nathan Koskovich, ArchitectProjects140613 142 Walker Street

First Floor Plan – 1 Existing Office Entry 2 Existing Residence Entry 3 Existing Office 4 Existing Bathroom 5 “Yard” like space 6 Existing Elevator Shaft / New Stair to Basement Garage


E:Nathan Koskovich, ArchitectProjects140613 142 Walker Street

Second Floor Plan – 7 Existing Living Room / New Dining Room 8 Existing Kitchen 9 Existing Master Bath / New Living Room 10 New Guest Bedroom 11 New Master Bathroom 12 New Master Closet 13 New Master Bedroom 14 Existing Elevator Shaft / New Stair to Roof Deck



First floor looking southeast toward alley


Main stair


Main stair as seen from the southeast


Looking northwest on second floor at guest room and existing space beyound


Re-purposed elevator door used as door to guest room


View from existing space towards master suite. On the left is the guest room


View from walkway into master bedroom and bathroom. To preserve privacy the windows and forms were arranged to prevent views in from other rooms. A small vertical shaft can just be made out below the windows.


View into master bedroom. Access to the roof is seen on the left through the existing elevator shaft.


Looking from the master bedroom into the master bathroom. the counter top is made from salvaged wood from the building.


Shower in master bathroom with skylight


We left parts of the building unfinished to indicate transitions such as from the main volume of the first floor to the area of the elevator shaft that provides vertical circulation.


Elevator car re-purposed as seating area


Lighting on stair down to alley entrance. Warm artificial light and cool daylight mix and contrast throughout the building.


View down from second floor through elevator shaft to garage entrance


As you move to the roof from the second floor you pass under the elevator mechanical equipment which we left in place


Detail of underside of pods. in the middle is the vertical shaft that connects to the master bedroom and bathroom windows.


Indirect lighting brightens the underside of the pods at night


Night view looking southeast on the first floor


Night view looking southeast on the second floor