Many a well-meaning tear-down builder has incited ire in Chevy Chase, Md., even while honoring the neighborhood's venerable architectural styles. The problem hasn't been with the interpretation, per se, but rather with what happens to classical forms when they are put on steroids.
“Most of the older homes here are early 20th-century colonial or Shingle-style residences, whose gabled forms emphasize the vertical dimension,” observes architect Mark Hughes. Increase square footage and those elements grow proportionately. Suddenly you're casting shadows on the neighbors' sun porches and prized azaleas.
Make no bones about it, owners David DuGoff and Vicky Bor wanted more living space when they razed an old bungalow to build their dream home in this posh area just north of Washington. But they avoided antagonizing the neighbors by embracing an architectural genre that is quintessentially low profile. Their 3,800-square-foot, Prairie-style home is large by local standards, but with its hipped roofs and broad footprint, it “spreads across the site instead of reaching for the skies,” Hughes says.
This casual, reclining position is accentuated by a wide mahogany entry door by Simpson (elongated with shoji-style sidelights), 12-inch Norman brick exterior masonry with a horizontal rake finish, cast stone string courses, and standard-sized windows organized in horizontal rows. Projecting one-story wings and bays, built-in planters, and attached garden walls soften the two-story mass by breaking the house down into smaller, human-scaled components.
Inside, the spatial emphasis is on shorter ceiling heights and long sight lines, which force perspective toward outdoor views. Horizontal runs of cherry trim span interior walls and turn corners, unifying an open plan in which living spaces maintain a continuous flow.
“Now that we've been here a while, we can testify that the house really works,” DuGoff says. “We can have a party for 100 or for two couples, and either way we are very comfortable in the space.” And the neighbors are comfortable, too.
Project: DuGoff Bor Residence, Chevy Chase, Md.; Size: 3,800 square feet; General contractor: Homeowners; Builder: Ebner Construction, Wheaton, Md.; Architect: GTM Architects, Bethesda, Md.