I wrote a story in The Washington Post on Saturday (see it here) about Merry-Go-Round farm, which Tyler Abell developed in an attempt to inject examples of good architecture into the Potomac region, where River Road is littered with ugly, oversized McMansions.
The work of top architects is represented in this 79-lot development, where houses are hidden in the woods to preserve the original, sweeping pastureland of the working farm that Tyler’s stepfather built in the 1940s as a way to support the war effort.
Here is what you see when you drive through the central arteries of the development, which has several entrances off River Road. Note that you’re not seeing a lot of houses at first glance.
Now for the houses. As I wrote in the story, developer Tyler Abell didn’t care so much about the architectural style so much as whatever genre an architect and his clients chose has to be accurate and consistent and built within the property’s context.
Architect Jim Rill, who sits on the neighborhood’s architectural review board, has designed many of its homes. He took me on a driving tour one today to see the wide variety of architecture that’s represented there.
Here’s the front and rear of one of his modern designs:
He also desigined this house below for Joyce Prill and her husband, whom I quoted in The Post story:
Jim also designed this cool wooded cottage:
And Jim designed this lovely home, set around a courtyard and overlooking the Potomac River out back.
Architect Bob Gurney, known for his starkly modern houses, designed this gorgeous home, which belongs to Beverly Packard, whom I quoted in the article:
Bobby McAlpine, a nationally known architect, designed this Flemish villa for owners who used a guru to advise them on feng shui:
Here is a house currently under construction to execute the design of modern architect Mark McInturff.
Here are a bunch of other homes whose architects I don’t know (readers weigh in if you do!). I love driving through these streets at 5 mph, just soaking in the architecture and the pasture views. There was one house where Jim and I stopped so I could take a picture, and the owner was home — thank goodness she knew Jim (her architect), because otherwise she would have called the police!
And here’s my final image — what you see when you come up over a slight rise, looking out across pastureland, where this house seems to rise up by surprise.
Since the story appeared on Saturday, I’ve received several emails congratulating me for “taking on” the McMansions of Potomac. But I haven’t heard a word from any of those architects or developers. I would honestly love to hear from them to know their thought process with those projects. If you are out there — what do you think about the things people are saying about your designs?