Sited on a steep, wooded slope overlooking the Potomac River, this new house combines familiar and exotic materials, straightforward and novel geometries, plain good planning, and a few bold strokes in a building that invites—and rewards—close inspection.
The house and its detached garage form a courtyard that is further enclosed by landscape walls. The garage also holds an office at its walk-out lower level and a second-floor guest suite. Its shoji-like Kalwall panels turn an opaque face to the courtyard, in contrast to the clear glass panels of the main house. Above the entry door a second-floor overhang provides shelter and, with its trapezoidal shape, tern-coated stainless steel cladding, and outward-canting attitude, a unique visual calling card.
Inside, the house presents a clean, minimalist composition that applies natural materials—lavas-tone tile at a fireplace wall, banks of quartersawn white oak cabinets, a limestone floor and wall—in broad, simple shapes.
“It's a great plan,” said one of our judges. Others remarked on the “wonderful consistency inside and out, with the detailing and the massing of elements” and the artful framing of the glass walls. Of the latter, one said, “It's like a Mondrian painting; it spins, and then it holds.”
Entrant/Architect: Robert M. Gurney, Architect, Alexandria, Va.
Builder: Bloom Builders, Bethesda, Md.
Living space: 8,000 square feet
Site: .81 acre
Construction cost: Withheld
Photographer: Maxwell MacKenzie
Bathroom plumbing fittings/fixtures: Duravit, Hansgrohe, Kohler, Toto, Waterworks; Bathroom cabinets/trimwork: Burger's Cabinet Shop; Countertops: Corian; Exterior siding: Follansbee Roofing; Fireplace: Spark; Hardware: Hafele, Omnia; Interior doors: C-Living; Kitchen cabinets: Bulthaup; Lighting fixtures: Anta, Artemide, Bega, Foscarini, Lightolier, Sistemalux, Tango; Paints: Sherwin Williams, Sikkens; Patio doors/window walls: Hope's; Precast concrete structural planks: Nitterhouse; Refrigerator: Sub-Zero; Windows: Kalwall, Weathershield.