Whew. I’ve been absent from the blog a couple weeks, trying to finish six(!?) magazine assignments—look for them this summer in Luxe, Washingtonian and DC Modern Luxury. Now that I’m coming up for air, I got a chance to peruse the Inform Awards, given each year to outstanding architecture and landscape design across the Mid-Atlantic.
DC, as usual, had a huge presence in this year’s awards, given by the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects. Among the honors were NPR’s new building, designed by Hickok Cole Architects; architecture and design giant Gensler’s new Washington offices; and renowned artist Sam Gilliam’s studio in DC’s Brightwood neighborhood, designed by Wnuck Spurlock Architects. Architect David Jameson, a regular award winner, also won for a dazzlingly modern residence in Bethesda.
But I want to focus on one of the 13 winning entries, out of 122 submitted. Architects Janet Bloomberg and Richard Loosle of Kube Architecture won for turning a matchbox rancher in Chevy Chase into a modern marvel, by gutting the insides and stretching two wings off either end into the back of the property.
Here’s what they started with:
And now see what it looks like!
You can just see the original rear wall in this “after” shot, but the architects were very thoughtful about keeping the front of the house within the context of the neighborhood, so from the front, aside from a dramatic improvement in curb appeal, you can only see a hint on the left of what lies beyond:
The owners are from Costa Rica, and they wanted to open up their dark, cramped house into wide open areas where their children could roam and play—inside and outside—and still remain within view.
Here’s an example of what they were dealing with before, with extremely limited sight lines:
And now, this is the view when you step inside the new front door:
The old kitchen:
The new kitchen:
One of the stunning features here is the ipe-wood deck the flows seamlessly from the outside to the inside, so the two spaces are blurred.
Janet and Richard love to sprinkle pops of color in their designs, which adds so much energy to their streamlined, minimalist spaces. (Janet did it with her own kitchen at home, which I wrote about for Dwell Magazine, right here.)
In this house, green is the unifying color. You can see it on the kitchen backsplash above, and also on these wall panels near the entry:
What they also do cleverly is mix warm woods with industrial elements, such as metal or even cinderblock. Who ever would have said that the humble blocks that made up so many of our elementary school corridors could be this pretty?
The Inform judges particularly praised the design’s “transparent, interconnected spaces,” which is evident here in the two wings off the back—the dimensions are identical yet they serve two entirely different uses: a deck topped by a pergola across from the enclosed master suite.
The architects keep hitting home runs, from the “see through” house in Foggy Bottom where each level has glass cutouts in the floor (see the third page of this layout, here), to a townhouse off Logan Circle that retains its historic beauty on the outside, but like this Chevy Chase project was similarly gutted and made modern on the inside (read the Home & Design story here).
Congratulations, Janet and Richard, on another beautifully executed renovation.