Ornate Railing – Andreozzi Architecture (Part 2)

Andreozzi Architects in Rhode Island used Precision Board HDU to recreate an ornate railing for a home that was originally a Calvert Vaux house design, but had fallen into disrepair. The railing had to hold up to the harsh beachfront environment and New England weather while also replicating the original style of the home from the 1920s. In part two of our two-part series, Sr. Associate and Project Manager Dave Rizzolo takes us through how they made an ornate railing out of mahogany and 30 lb. Precision Board HDU.

ornate railing

“During some extensive historical research at the beginning of the project we were able to find some historical photos of what the house looked like long ago.  There was a distinctive railing design at the front door that we wanted to bring back.  None of that original railing design remained and there were no drawings to work from – just the photo,” says Rizzolo.  “We used the photo to interpret the spirit of the original design and specified the construction in Precision Board PBLT-30 so that it would be immune from rot and insect damage for years into the house’s new future,” he added.

You can see one of the original photos below from the 20s, what the house looked like when Andreozzi Architecture started (painted white with the red roof) and final photos of the house and ornate railing taken by their office.

The house itself, in Middletown, RI, and just around the corner from Newport Third Beach, is of notoriety. It was designed for the daughter of Edwin Booth who was considered by some to be the greatest American actor of the 19th century (and brother of John Wilkes Booth). His daughter, Edwina, was marrying Downing Vaux (the son of Calvert Vaux).  Also of note – in 1929 the house was used for a flim-flam scam that was the basis for the 1973 movie “The Sting”.

Dave says, “we come up with the design concept, bring the owners into the conversation so they can see what we’re thinking and give feedback.  Then it goes to the general contractor.”

Andreozzi Architects were familiar with Precision Board HDU from using it over the years in a variety of applications, including gables, mailbox posts, etc.  They used PBLT-30 for the interior green parts and put them between mahogany rails.

“We were concerned with rot and insect damage and harsh coastal weather and knew Precision Board could withstand it all,” Rizzolo adds.

“For a hand-railing, you need to provide rigidity and strength, so we looked at what kind of materials we could use to substitute for wood,” Dave says.  “Wood these days seems less long-lasting, so materials like Precision Board HDU that have more durability are better suited for something like this.”

“If something looks wobbly, if sports balls can dent it, that will have an impact on what material we use and what density,” adds Dave Andreozzi, Andreozzi Architecture founder.  “We don’t want people to look at something and think it’s fake.  A lot of man-made materials out there look fake, don’t look like wood.”

From design to install, the ornate railing took several months.  In this case, Kirby-Perkins, the general contractor, had their own mill workshop and did it all in house and then installed on-site.

In addition to restoring the railing, Andreozzi Architects renovated the whole house, ripping out 50% of what was there because it wasn’t original.  They kept some of the original stuff and built off of it.  They moved the entire house off the original foundation.  After completely rebuilding the foundation, they put part of the house back on it.

“We did a renovation that doubled the size of the house while capturing the spirit of the original,” Rizzolo adds.

ornate railing

Above photo courtesy professional photographer Aaron Usher.

You can read Part 1 here of our two-part series where Dave talks about using Precision Board HDU to create a scalloped window panel.

Founded in 1988, Andreozzi Architecture specializes in historically based residential architecture expressive of its sense of place, attentive to its detail and proportion, and timeless in its beauty. A regional architecture: historically mastered, meticulously preserved, respectfully honored, and artistically reinterpreted; from city, to mountain, to ocean. Commissions exist from Commonwealth Avenue, to the shores of New England, to the Bahamian Islands.

They are a unique team of design-oriented architects driven by a passion for creating elegant architectural solutions that address their client’s needs and desires in ways that are innovative, respectful of tradition and craft, yet respective of budget. The size of a project or cost per square foot is irrelevant in their quest to produce successful projects and happy clients.  You can give them a call at (401) 245-6800 or visit their website.

Coastal Enterprises manufactures Precision Board HDU, a versatile, cost-effective and eco-friendly high-density urethane material that has achieved a certified “Carbon Balance” of 3 to 1 and a “Rapidly Renewable Resource Content” of 23.9%.  Precision Board also assists in meeting LEED requirements for obtaining USGBC and ICC 700-2008 building credits.  It is a closed-cell rigid substrate that does not rot, warp or crack.  You can request free samplesget a quote or sign up for periodic newsletters packed with helpful information.