Blending existing and new stone architecture
To merge with the historic context of the King Williams District in San Antonio, TX, there was no question that Old Yellow limestone would be chosen for the exterior of a new private residence. And when it came time to extend the home some years later, stone once again would be the first and final decision for the exterior. Yet perfectly matching the existing structure would be a goal only achieved by the assistance of a skilled masonry team, according to Heather McKinney, AIA, LEED® AP, of McKinney Architects Inc in Austin, TX, who served as the lead architect for the project.
“Our client lived for quite a long time in the King Williams District before she got possession of this property,” said McKinney. “She was interested in using the stone because it was ubiquitous in the King William District, and there is a beautiful example of very similar stone on her neighbor’s house which she had long admired.”
The architect explained that seven years prior to the addition, her client had come to her as a recently married woman expecting her first child. “This was a huge change in her life, and she was having a hard time predicting what life would be like since she had been single.”
Working with an empty lot, Phase One of the home had a discrete, but adjustable layout with bedrooms upstairs and public spaces downstairs. Then with a better grip on how she thought her and her family’s lives would be, McKinney explained that her client came back to her wanting to expand the house. This time around, the homeowner desired larger spaces for more casual interaction and entertaining.
The addition took over the rest of the property’s lot, which included an existing garage space.
Because the original stonework had been weathered for seven years, it was a challenge to perfectly match the addition’s stonework to make the entire home look as if it was built in one phase. “We used coursed limestone and did a mortar that was custom matched to the stonework of the previous stone used,” explained the architect. “The pieces ranged from sizes 6 x 8 inches to 12 x 18 inches.”
Additionally, the two structures would only be separated by a glass space, which posed further difficulties. “In order to pull that transparency off, and to make it really be a ‘glassy’ insert, we needed that stonework to read through inside and out,” said McKinney. “You could see stone peering past the glass closure because it’s a relatively small space, and you’re seeing those walls all together. The new building needed to be very consistent with size, color, color of the mortar and the technique used to put it together.”
McKinney further revealed that her team’s confidence with the mason allowed them to undertake the glass closure. “It’s very powerful, the execution just had to be perfect,” she said. “If we hadn’t known we were going to get the result we wanted, it’s not something we would have attempted.”
With confidence in the installation crew, McKinney and her team did not need to be on the project site for an extended period. “San Antonio has a real history of craftsmen and great masons,” she said. “As a result, it wasn’t like pulling teeth. They understood our design goals, so we were very lucky.”
Pleased with the efforts of the stone installers, McKinney and her client were happy with the outcome of the entire project. “It’s been a reward for us to hear kudos,” she said. “We had a really great client the first time, and we were grateful she came around the second time for the addition.”
San Antonio, TXArchitect: McKinney Architects Inc, Austin, TX
General Contractor: Gary McCracken
Stone Supplier: San Jacinto Materials, San Antonio, TX
Stone Mason: Curtis Hunt Restorations, Elmendorf, TX