Judith Kinnard

General Description: Library / Stair

This stair hall was one of a series on interventions to a house in a city neighborhood in
Charlottesville, Virginia. Like many of these homes, the living level was raised above a
full basement due to the steeply sloping site. This "walk-out" basement was only minimally
connected to the upper level through an enclosed service stair off of the kitchen. This
project sought to develop a vertical penetration of space and light to counteract the
horizontality enforced by the 8' ceiling height throughout the house. To do this, the floor
of a bedroom adjacent to the front entry was removed in order to create a spatial overlap
to the lower level. This 12' x 12' x 17' high volume became a link from ground to sky by the
insertion of a small roof window. The side walls of this space were lined with library
shelving to the rail height of the upper level. The new stair was conceived as a dialogue
between opposite conditions. The lower half is seen as an extension of the floor level and
acts as a solid oak base for the book cabinetry. The upper part of the stair is steel with
floating oak treads. It recalls a library ladder in that it provides a place to reach over to
the upper shelves of the bookcases that line the stair room.


Schwartz-Kinnard Architects
Judith Kinnard: Project Architect