Traditional Building Portfolio



Something Old, Something New

Project: Residence, Washington, DC

Architect: Franck & Lohsen Architects, Washington, DC; James Martin, senior assosciate

By Lynne Lavelle

When an antiques dealer, with an eye and taste for subtle imperfections, sought to put the finishing touches to his Washington, DC, property, he turned once again to Franck & Lohsen Architects. The full-service firm had previously completed two projects at the historic Cleveland Park home, which occupies a quarter-acre site overlooking Rock Creek Parkway.

The client purchased the center-hall Colonial home with his late wife 30 years ago, and had since expanded it with a Palladian-style kitchen addition, overhauled the master suite and re-sculpted the back yard. The latter required a landscape program with a long view – in more ways than one.

“Only a small percentage of our work is solely landscape focused, but every project involves landscape design – it is always a part of the scope of every project,” says James Martin, senior associate at Franck & Lohsen. “It is all tied together. When we design a residence, or a commercial or institutional building we are tying it to the landscape. They are not treated differently. We consider it one design. And while we don’t choose plant species, we lay out site features – where trees and other elements should go.”

The client was initially drawn to the site’s rare combination of privacy and proximity to downtown DC. Beginning with a picket fence at the front yard, he was inspired to redesign the landscape and exterior in all directions, adding a new front entry portico, and the Franck & Lohsen-designed master suite, kitchen addition and fern garden. Each has its own complementary garden space, such as the outdoor dining space below the kitchen addition, and the second story terrace off of the master bedroom. Most recently, Franck & Lohsen has been working on an orangerie that continues the theme of tying the residence with the landscape.

“The owner’s approach to managing the site has been patience and the absence of rush,” says Martin. “He has very subtle taste, which is reflected in his plant and hardscaping choices - boxwoods that have grown over time, French garden furniture, and the character of imperfection, fitting for an antiques dealer.”

The living room’s floor-to-ceiling doors are unobstructed by mullions or a terrace, allowing for unobstructed views of the green lawn below, which falls off to the woods and greenery of Rock Creek beyond. Antiques are scattered throughout the yard, which terraces down 30 ft. over two stories.

Like many DC residents, the client is no great fan of summer in the city. “His favorite DC seasons are spring and late fall,” says Martin. “In summer he escapes the humidity to the South of France, where his property there tells a similar story – a restored farmhouse and gardens in an old town. And also, a labor of love.”  




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