10 Residence’s in DC of our time

While DC is best known for its civic buildings and monuments; recently I have been more interested on the residential architecture of DC. So I compiled a list of the 10 residences I find most interesting. As is my inclination I focused on, let’s just say houses of our time, for lack of a better term contemporary houses.


- The Wedge House

This brick house near the U street Metro on Florida Ave. sits on an extremely constraining triangularly shaped site. Cantilevered bay like windows increase the area of the house, while balconies jet out the opposite side of the wedge balancing out the house visually. I have very obviously taken to calling this the Wedge House, but the material selection, fenestrations and the innovative solution to space constrains make this house as interesting as the shape of its site.


- The Cathedral House

While this house is in no way, shape or form related to the National Cathedral, I still call it that due to its geographic proximity to the cathedral. The two long side walls of the house, mostly covered in copper, bulge out from the interior and are perforated by seemingly random sized and randomly located windows. The front of the house is mostly glazed and steps back from the street to create its entrance. The deep red accent bans on the front of the house complements the patina copper much better than I would of thought.


- 5805 Potomac Ave. NW

Perhaps the most minimalist design in the list, the house blends a traditional profile, with contemporary materials and construction. The standing metal hip roof continues down the solid side walls, as only the front of the house appears to have any glazing. The rest of the house is set back and out street view wrapping the back of the two story main house.


- House with Copper Addition

I considered not including this house, as the addition is generally what fits on the list the most. When one first comes up on the house, the patina copper exterior of the addition draws your attention. The vaulted roof of the addition distinguishes itself from its surroundings. Upon further inspection, one can begin to see the influence the addition has had on the previously existing house. From the selection of white paint on the brick, to the black frame and mullion windows, and especially with the new black steel entry porch, this house has stepped across the threshold and is now solidly planted in our time. The house with the copper addition, resides in the neighborhood of Chevy Chase on Quincy Street.


- Swiss Ambassador Residence

Is one of the most open ambassador residences in DC, constantly hosting events at the house designed by “starchitect” Steven Holl. The minimalist structure sits on an open field lot at the center of the residential neighborhood near the Woodley Park metro. The cross plan shaped house uses alternating dark stone and translucent plastic panel walls to create and interesting contrasting facade. The entrance to the house is marked with a glass canopy, opposite a reflecting pool. The interior continues the minimalist design with exposed concrete floors, large glass walls and oversized wood pocket divider door/walls.


- 1250 Kearney St.

The metal panel and wood house was originally designed as a working residence for an architecture firm. Almost looking like a warehouse, the entrance for the firm is on the side while a door leading to the living space blends in with the almost random window opening on the front. Elevated from street level, the house clearly stand out in one of DC’s least know neighborhood of Brookland.


- I.M. Pei House

The oldest house to make this list is also the house designed by perhaps the most famous architect in I.M. Pei. Built in 1960 the house’s triple arch roof with floor to ceiling glass stands out amongst the younger houses that surround it. Mostly hidden by a tall brick wall is a front court yard featuring a reflecting pool, out of sight next to the wall is the entrance with a modern style canopy. The two level house looks to be only one floor due to the severe slope of the site.


- 3609 and 3611 R Street Town Houses


In a neighborhood of mostly brick colonial style houses, in upper Georgetown, seat two very different townhouses. I first ran into these houses by chance during my short morning commute trying to avoid traffic. 3609 and 3611 R St. combine wood, steel, concrete and large windows on facades that almost appear to blend into one.

 2792 Chainbridge Rd


When I first started looking at these houses, I would not have thought an all wood exterior clad house would have made the list. But this house, which we first ran into after taking Bailey to the dog park, clearly is no wood cottage. The garage sits out front on the gravel drive way, subtlety hiding the glass roofed access bridge to the entrance of the house. From there the mostly box like massing of the house is broken up by large glazing sides as it steps down the heavy wooded and steep site.


- 5743 Potomac Ave.


The largest house on the list, this one almost looks more like an office building then a residence. The two to three stories angled glass front and entrance way is topped with a long balcony integrated into the top facade. The large rectangular structure not only imposes itself on the neighborhood, but is even visible from the Virginia side of the Potomac River it over sees.


Here is a link to a map locating the houses on the list. I am in no way encouraging anyone to visit any of them; it is merely posted for information sake. If you go see any of this houses please be respectful of the people living there.


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