The Dwight Way



The Dwight Way is a remodel and the addition of a new building done by Karl Wanaselja and Cate Leger. On on the same site they created a 9-unit, mixed-use, urban infill project in the heart of Berkeley, California.

The two-and-a-half-story home was “basically a wreck,” saysCate. They jacked up the house, built a new commercial spacebelow, and remodeled the entire project, resulting in acompound of two street-level commercial spaces (an annexand the bottom story) and two residential units (on thesecond and third stories). The annex, formerly an antiqueshop, is now home to the couple’s architecture and generalcontracting firm.

Built originally as a corner grocery store with apartments above and a large side yard, the location had become one of the noisiest and busiest in the city. By restoring the existing building and adding a new one in an environmentally sensitive way, the project transforms this site into a green showcase.

The couple’s office and 1,000-square-foothome exemplify their design objective to make architecturefunctional, beautiful, and ecological. “With this project,I would like people to really consider the impact ofremodeling a house or building an addition — or even justbuying cabinets or staining the floor,” says Karl.

The goal was to use time tested methods to minimize energy use and to rely heavily on salvaged, recycled, and low-toxic finishes. Thoughtful passive design strategies such as excellent insulation, careful window placement and siting for passive solar benefit were among the most important strategies used to minimize energy consumption. The designers were able to achieve a 280% improvement in energy use in the existing building. The new building is almost twice as energy efficient as required by state energy code.

The couple laid heavy reliance on salvaged and recycled materials saved tremendous amounts of manufacturing energy and reduced overall environmental impacts. Just three measures saved as much energy as the two buildings will use in a year:

· Using blown-in cellulose insulation (made from old telephone books and newspapers) instead of fiberglass:

· Substituting 50% of the cement in the concrete with fly ash (a by-product of coal burning); and

· Leaving the aluminum siding on the existing building instead of replacing it with wood or stucco.

The house contains also a wide range of building materials which reduce overall environmental impact:

· Reused car parts for awnings, railings, gates, shelves, parking bumpers and lighting. Some of these items are published earlier on Superuse:

Windshield Covering –

Volvo Fence:

Mazda Hatch Railing:

· Reused 3 1/2 tons of street signs for siding, eaves, gates, light shades and railings. See also Street Sign Fence:

· Insulated floor slabs.

· Thousands of board feet of salvaged wood reused for doors, siding, trim, walls.

· FSC certified, sustainably harvested 2 x 6 framing lumber.

· Sustainably harvested oak slab counters.

· Formaldehyde free kitchen and bathroom cabinet boxes in the new building.

· FSC certified sustainably harvested hardwood flooring.

· 100% wool carpets.

· Non-VOC paints and woodwork finished with natural oils.

· Photovoltaic panels.

· Native and drought tolerant plants, eliminating the need for an irrigation system.

· Bicycle parking area.

· Small, gracious (average 785 sq ft, 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath) units reduce material demand.

· The couple turned turning an oldwater heater from the project into a rainwater catchment

· The gardenpatio was laid with bricks from the old foundation, further non-toxic permeable gravel paving instead of asphalt to retain rainwater on site.

· Rehabilitation of existing buildings and infilling within the city reduce pressure to build in and commute from greenbelt areas outside the city.

Karl Wanaselja and Cate Leger, lwarc

The Dwight House (2004)

Re-purposed Building Complex Berkeley, California, USA


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Toon Verberg