Architecture in Brookline ranges from sophisticated to modern


Raised in Uruguay, Kripper came to Boston in 2007 to work for architecture and urban planning firm Machado Silvetti; About 10 years ago he opened his own company. He said he’s particularly fond of adaptive reuse projects. “It’s very rewarding work to bring historic buildings back to life,” he said.

The interior of this building – made up of small, fragmented spaces, outdated systems and decaying materials – has been gutted. However, the outer shell was treated as an important element of a historic district, especially on the street facade.

The house is now sheathed with crisp white siding. Traditional elements include the original fieldstone over the foundation; copper eaves; cedar on the porch spindles, foundation grid and underside of the porch roof; and black metal frames and sashes for the windows, doors, and skylights. A horizontal band halfway up the side of the building reflects its dichotomy. To showcase the refreshed Victorian style, the teams removed the overgrown bushes, restoring the house to full visibility from the street.

BEFORE: Overgrown shrubs obscured the facade.Crib Studio
AFTER: At the rear of the building, white eaves blend with the white cladding to emphasize the architectural changes, with black metal visual cues to the new.Pablo Gerson

While the front looks the way it used to be, the rear is unabashedly new. Black metal paneling features an elevator shaft, dormer window and modern bay window. Modern doors provide access to each of the two units, and there is a new two-car garage and heated driveway.

AFTER: Detail photo of the enclosed elevator shaft for the exclusive use of Unit 2 and the new dormer and window.Pablo Gerson

To create two lavish units, Kripper found additional living space in areas that would normally serve as storage: the basement and attic. In Unit 1, which measures 2,565 square feet and occupies the first floor and basement, he excavated to create a 9-foot ceiling height on the lower level. Unit 2, at 2,386 square feet, received a raised upper floor when he raised the attic ceiling to the rafters. Each four bedroom unit connects the levels with elegant cantilevered staircases with oak risers. An elevator serves unit 2..

“We wanted to create as open an interior floor plan as possible,” said Kripper. To support this spatial volume, a large, concealed steel girder spans the building from front to back at the level of the dividing line between the two units.

“The spaces feel effortless, but it took a lot of precision and craftsmanship to achieve this look,” he explained.

BEFORE: Walls divided rooms on the first floor into small rooms.Crib Studio
AFTER: Spiral staircase to second level dramatic visual interest.Pablo Gerson
BEFORE: The upper floor, now Unit 2, was divided into small rooms.Crib Studio
AFTER: In Unit 2, an open floor plan and what appears to be a floating staircase to the third level.Pablo Gerson
BEFORE: Increasing the ceiling height will help transform this future bathroom.Crib Studio
AFTER: The guiding design principles are precision and craftsmanship, which is evident in the choice of materials and fixtures in the bathroom.Pablo Gerson
BEFORE: The existing wood paneling was removed but the fieldstone remained.Crib Studio
AFTER: At the rear of the building, white eaves blend with the white cladding to emphasize the architectural changes, with black metal visual cues to the new.Pablo Gerson

Kripper called the city of Brookline “very progressive” in the management of historic neighborhoods and buildings.

“The policy is: restore in kind, but don’t ‘false old’ when adding and mimic what’s there,” he said. “This has resulted in a satisfactory and successful renovation.

“As architects, we want to complement buildings, but there is a certain level of care required when working with old buildings. Sometimes we just have to let the building reveal itself. It’s not always easy to find the balance.”

At 523 Washington St. the balance between a Victorian exterior and a modern interior is a stunning combination.

Regina Cole can be reached at [email protected]. Subscribe to Globe’s free real estate newsletter – our weekly roundup on buying, selling and design – at Follow us on Twitter @GlobeHomes and on Facebook.


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