Traditional Building Portfolio
Palladio Awards

Project: Residence, Chevy Chase, MD

Architect: David Jones Architects, Washington, DC; David Jones, principal; Kevin Pruiett, senior associate & project architect; Marc Langhammer, architect

General Contractor: Gibson Builders, Washington, DC



New Design & Construction - more than 5,000 sq. ft.

Winner: David Jones, Architects

Distinctive Match

By Marieke Cassia Gartner

In Chevy Chase, MD, an area predominated by Colonial Revival- and Tudor-style houses, David Jones Architects of Washington, DC, designed a large but restrained house that fits in with the neighborhood. The 7,500-sq.ft. brick and slate structure is in an informal English style and offers sizeable family and entertaining spaces.

"As is always the case with a new residencee in an existing neighborhood, the challenge was to create a house that would be both original and distinctive, yet one that would fit comfortably with its neighbors," explains David Jones, principal with the firm. "Although this particular style isn’t found in the neighborhood, it is complementary mainly because of the extensive use of brick." In addition, dark-painted wood casement windows emulate the painted-steel casements found on many of the original neighboring houses. "The distinctive copper ridge cap, carved-limestone accents, custom lanterns and stained-oak entry paneling give the exterior an older, distinguished appearance," he adds. The slate roof, also prevalent in the area, is comprised of various colors and different thicknesses of Vermont slate. "The irregularity makes it appear to be an older roof," he says.

The house is sited on an awkwardly shaped triangular lot, with radiating streets fronting two sides of the property. To take advantage of the site, the house was configured linearly along the north property line to maximize the amount of rear garden. "The house was made long and thin and as close to the setback line as possible," says Jones.

The design of the house "reduces the apparent size of what is actually a fairly structure house by breaking down the mass on the façade that faces the street," says Jones. "One of the main problems was accommodating this size house on the site without overwhelming the neighborhood. I designed the house in smaller pieces, starting with the library wing, which is low; building up to the center piece, which is comprised of the living and dining rooms; the kitchen and breakfast rooms are lower; and finally stepping back down at the garage end. From the street you see basically four different pieces making up the length of the house." The general strategy was to have an "informal, relaxed composition on the front and a more orderly, formal one on the back, expressing the living room and dining room fronting the terrace," he adds.

"The garden façade is unique," says Jones. "The formal portion of the house [living and dining rooms] is clearly expressed in the array of five sets of French doors fronting a terrace and lawn. The projecting family-room wing subdivides the garden space, creating a sheltered area for the family’s screened porch, terrace, pool and barbeque area." A tall brick garden wall and plantings along the south and east property lines enclose the private garden, designed by Graham Landscape Architecture of Annapolis, MD, including the pool, terraces and lawn. The narrow western end of the property was not walled, remaining as an open lawn with mature trees and shrubs to enhance the adjacent circular park – "the symbolic center of the neighborhood," says Jones.

Climbing roses and English ivy were strategically planted around the perimeter to be trained up the house and garden walls, softening the architecture in the landscape over time. "In this neighborhood known for its trees, special efforts were made to save as many as possible," says Jones. "To save two large shade trees just outside the library, we designed that end of the house on piers to maintain as much of the existing root structure as possible." A large holly to the left of the entry walk shields the mudroom entrance from view as one approaches the front door, and flowering cherry trees line the perimeter of the site.

The clients came to the architect with one clear idea, which was their desire to have the living and dining rooms adjacent to one another and facing the backyard with a formal terrace. As an extension of this idea, the architect designed all of the major rooms to face the backyard, including the family room, breakfast room and library, which also "occupies a special place in the composition, addressing the park to the west," Jones says. The stairs and service areas are located along the front wall of the house. On the second floor, all the bedrooms share the garden view.

The interior is comprised of "fairly simple spaces with the primary decorative elements being arches and ceiling beams in the formal spaces," says Jones. The front stair hall also features ceiling beams and most of the doorways are arched. The stained arched entry door juxtaposes the painted paneling, but the raised paneling is repeated throughout the space, on all of the doors and walls, which ties the room together. Other elements include fireplaces, quartersawn rift selection oak flooring and imported oak paneling that was taken out of an older house that had been demolished in England and refitted for the library.

A room of particular interest is the family room, with its 15-ft.-tall ceiling. Details from other rooms in the house are evident in this space as well, such as the raised wall paneling and ceiling beams. A carved-stone mantel is a central fixture but the large bay window captures the most attention.

The Chevy Chase residence was completed in June of 2005. Its style, design and materials are in keeping with other houses in the area, earning it a reputation as a good neighbor.  



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