written by:
photos by:
June 4, 2016
Originally published in Indoor/Outdoor Living
Natural Preservatives
A skyward addition to an antebellum Charleston warehouse rises in an architecturally conservative city.
Fiberglass facade of warehouse in Charleston, South Carolina.

Web developer Rich Yessian involved local preservation groups early and often to gain permission to unite home, office, and outdoors at an aged warehouse that, according to Sanborn Maps, predates the Civil War.


Photo by 
1 / 7
Oakwood dining room, accented with innovative shelving and classic orange seating.

The interior nods to its host structure’s heritage with some walls and the ceiling clad in reclaimed oak from a Kentucky farmhouse. Custom pendants by Mickus Projects hang above a Curzon table from Modloft.


Photo by 
2 / 7
Friends gather on the wooden stair terrace at South Carolina home.

The staggered terrace, lined with cast iron plants (Aspidistra elatior), leads up from the living room.


Photo by 
3 / 7
A couple winds down on a couch inside their glass living room.

Rich and his girlfriend Arielle sit on an IKEA sofa; the windows are from Charleston Glass.


Photo by 
4 / 7
A man stands atop green roof in Charleston, South Carolina.

Twenty species of drought-resistant succulents, punctuated by solar panels, carpet the top of the home. Green Roof Outfitters installed the plants in modules.


Photo by 
5 / 7
Two people share a drink during dusk on rustic deck.

The cable railing around the perimeter of the deck is capped with a banister made of reclaimed river cypress.


Photo by 
6 / 7
Street view of orange warehouse, including view of succulent garden and solar panels.

Fiberglass composite louvers, which Rich can control from the deck, block out views from a nearby college dorm and parking garage.


Photo by 
7 / 7
Fiberglass facade of warehouse in Charleston, South Carolina.

Web developer Rich Yessian involved local preservation groups early and often to gain permission to unite home, office, and outdoors at an aged warehouse that, according to Sanborn Maps, predates the Civil War.


Sky Residence
Landscape Designer 

Built before modern air-conditioning, Charleston is a city whose definition of indoor/outdoor living is more French doors than floor-to-ceiling glass, a standard that is vigilantly upheld by local preservation groups. So when web developer Rich Yessian and architect Kevan Hoertdoerfer submitted plans to set a steel sanctuary, complete with a roof garden, atop a warehouse that dates from 1858, they prepared for an uphill battle.

“The anticipation going in was that there would be a lot of pushback,” notes Hoertdoefer, wryly. But his client’s wishes were clear.

Inspired by the condos that crown taller cities like New York, Rich dreamt of living somewhere that collapsed the distance between work and nature. When his company, Blue Ion, relocated to the top floor of a warehouse downtown, he saw his chance.

“In our previous office, there was a ladder that took you onto the roof,” he recalls. “I thought that was really cool, to have the ability to pop up and hang out.” Hiring Hoertdoerfer, who oversaw the renovation of Blue Ion’s workspace, Rich set out to determine if the warehouse—and city—could support a rooftop addition that replicated that natural connection.

The proposal Hoertdoerfer came up with, which called for installing a new, double-height story on a large steel foundation, seemed certain to run afoul of traditionalists.

Yet urban renewal can make strange bedfellows. The neighborhood had recovered slowly after Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989, and it was still in flux when Rich arrived more than 20 years later. “There was a sweet spot for this project where the preservation groups felt comfortable supporting it,” says Hoertdoerfer, adding, “If it was two blocks in a different direction, they might have been more reluctant.”

The architect took that blessing and teamed with Charleston Plantworks and general contractors Mark Regalbuto and Andy Meihaus of Renew Urban Charleston to design a perch that provides outdoor interludes during Rich’s downtime, beginning with an elevator that opens onto a patio. From a set of barn doors, tigerwood steps rise toward an alfresco dining area and a deck with a hot tub. When Rich hosts gatherings or unofficial office happy hours here, operable louvers, arranged in a bold, abstract pattern, offer privacy. The network of terraces culminates in a succulent-planted roof with views of downtown and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

It’s possible the home’s runaway success represents a shifting attitude towards modernism in one of the country’s oldest cities; last November, it was honored with a Design Excellence Award by the municipality. But for Rich, it’s a personal triumph, one he’s still marveling over: “I’m just surprised it played out as well as did without it having been done before in Charleston.”   


Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016