“It's this little jewel sitting at the edge of this pastoral pond.” As one juror's comment alludes, this summer house quickly captured everyone's attention. Powerful first impressions are exactly what architects Ralph Cunningham and Chris Quill intended when siting and designing the structure. As guests turn off the main road and journey through rolling hills, this wood and stone pavilion perched at water's edge is their introduction to the estate's architecture. “We wanted this view of the house across the pond to be the first image,” says Cunningham. “It's an important building for setting up expectations about the rest of the property.”
The summer house was the first thing built in this 100-acre wood, so Cunningham and Quill used the 500-square-foot structure as a construction laboratory. “We did a lot of experimenting with stonework and other materials,” says Cunningham. “It's such a clean little building that you really see how things will turn out on a larger scale.”
The homeowners wanted a rustic atmosphere for casual entertaining in contrast to the high level of detailing in the estate's other buildings. A single volume with beaded fir ceiling and trim, reclaimed heart pine floors, and 12-foot-tall windows exudes a laid-back yet elegant feel. “We wanted something that would be a beautiful addition to the landscape, but not overwhelm or diminish it,” says Quill.
Entrant/Architect: Cunningham + Quill Architects, Washington, D.C.
Builder: Potomac Valley Builders, Poolesville, Md.
Structural engineer: Ehlert/Bryan, McLean, Va.
Landscape architect: Lila Fendrick Associates, Chevy Chase, Md.
Project size: 500 square feet
Site: 100 acres
Construction cost: $200 a square foot
Photographers: Maxwell MacKenzie and Hoachlander Davis
Resources: Bathroom plumbing fittings: Elkay, Kohler, and Waterworks; Bathroom plumbing fixtures: Chicago; Ceramic tile flooring: Dal Tile; Dishwasher: Bosch; Hardware: Rocky Mountain; Lighting fixtures: Bega 350, Lightolier, Progress, and Tivoli; Oven: Viking; Refrigerator: Sub-Zero; Windows: Weather Shield.