The Lyon Park Community House (LPCH) is owned by 400 homeowners in this historic neighborhood in Arlington.  The LPCH has served its neighborhood for more than 90 years and accommodates multiple uses and rentals each day. LAB worked with our hundreds of “clients” in a community design charrette to formulate a plan for renovating and expanding the building. With all renovation funds provided through community donations, our design had to achieve space-efficiency and durability on a small budget.

Our plan preserved the simple, historic structure, and expanded it with a new kitchen, restrooms, and a sunroom opening the building to its setting in a park. In a play on the iconic architectural elements that are associated with small-town, community buildings, we added a cupola and dormer to the addition, complementing the original building chimney. These new elements serve as totems on the village square, subtly representing the community center as a collective house for the neighborhood.

We focused on durability and longevity – use of simple but solid construction assemblies including steel framing and a concrete slab supporting the kitchen and restrooms, painted wood surfaces (not drywall) in high-use areas, ceramic tile floors and walls in kitchens and restrooms, new HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems.  A new “proscenium” provides a symbolic stage for events and hides the new HVAC systems in the historic main hall. Our design preserved key historic features, and the additions to the building provided a clear, yet subtle, distinction between old and new construction. Because of the careful renovation and restoration of historic building elements, the project was granted a Virginia State Historic Tax Credit in 2016.