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Hanson House

Rochester, New York

East House

Winner of 2017 AIA Rochester Design Excellence Award

Located in the Mt. Hope-Highland National Historic District, this former single-family residence was constructed in 1890, with later additions in the 1920s and 1980s.  It was converted into a group home in the 1980s.


The task was to relocate a new 14-bed program for adults recovering from mental illness and substance abuse disorders into the residence, and rehabilitate the spaces to provide for their basic needs. A resident’s typical stay is 6-9 months, serving as transitional housing until they can achieve stabilization and sobriety.  The building had been previously renovated over several decades, with inappropriate treatments that diminished its historic character and left the house as a labyrinth of awkward rooms and spaces.


The design strategy was to retain the building’s character-defining elements, while reconfiguring the spaces to accommodate the new program.  The circulation was simplified by providing a new central spine through the building.  All rooms are accessed off this hall, and it provides clear orientation and a visual connection through the residence.  An unfortunate 1980s rear addition was removed, and a transparent glazed addition provides an accessible entrance that stitches the new recreation room to the historic residence.  Large windows in the addition relate to the proportions of the existing building fenestration, while bringing in an abundance of natural light.


The entire interior of the existing residence was rehabilitated, and the exterior was restored to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.  New HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and fire-protection systems were installed.  The dining room, kitchen, and baths were enlarged and updated.  The interior finish palate of warm, natural hues allows for the spaces to be light, bright, and therapeutic, which is essential for the residents’ recovery.

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