4514 S. Saratoga is another iteration of Starter Home*, an entry level housing program using inventive land strategies coupled with design to develop homeownership opportunities in urban neighborhoods. Like other homes in this program, it is based on the reclamation of an otherwise vacant and unused substandard parcel. The project, unlike previous versions, originated as a commission by private clients interested in replicating the program.
In keeping with the generalized precepts of speculative development, 4514 S. Saratoga is a standard three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home. The limited site area — about a third the size of a traditional parcel in New Orleans —required program be stacked vertically and efficiently. An entry stoop was carved from the ground floor footprint and served to internally organize the main living spaces. A back porch and a small yard occupy the limited space required by setbacks. The second floor has two compact bed and bathrooms. The third-floor functions as an additional bedroom or flex space with walk-in access to a large storage area.
The overall form, ambiguously reminiscent of a traditional home, was devised to manipulate the perception of its true height and scale.The massing moves up and out, reflecting the open space requirements of the first floor and the need to maximize permitted buildable area on the remaining floors. This is further reinforced with the detailing of the exterior cladding. Like other Starter Home* projects, 4514 S Saratoga needed to utilize a ubiquitous and cheap material. In this case conventional cementitious panels were detailed to step out at controlled intervals to obscure the height of floor plates. Vertical batten strips, placed at varying widths, were misaligned to reinforce the stepped banding. From the street the upper floor is encapsulated in the volume of the roof, with the eve line no higher than a typical two-story home. The form opens up towards the rear and side to allow windows into the third-floor room. This peaked portion of the home, while not immediately present from its own street front, is seen along adjacent streets in an intentional interaction with the adjacent rooftop dormers, uncannily present though not entirely clear where it belongs.