The judges admired the quality of light and the clean materials in this house, on a small lot by the Chesapeake Bay. Without distinctive architectural precedents to draw on, the design evolved from familiar beach-house directives: privacy, low maintenance, and an easy connection to nature. The solution, however, is anything but typical. Anticipating a future house between his client’s lot and the water, architect Robert M. Gurney created a U-shaped house with a private courtyard at its core. High windows gaze into treetops, and, along the courtyard, a 20-foot-wide expanse of glass pockets into the living-room wall.

“In a community of one-story buildings, we worked hard to avoid a two-story house that lines up along the street,” Gurney says. Thus the abstract massing: two double-height flat-roofed volumes, linked by a one-story circulation space facing the street. Their materials—cement board on the east volume, corrugated metal on the west volume, and a ground-face cement block connector—provide durability with minimal upkeep. The result seems effortless, as good design often does. There’s a sense of “living inside and outside simultaneously,” said a judge, “and everything seems balanced.”


Entrant/Architect: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect, Washington, D.C.; Builder: Gude and Conard, Ocean View, Del.; Landscape architect: JB Landscaping, Lewes, Del.; Interior designer: Baron Gurney Interiors, Washington, D.C.; Living space: 2,300 square feet; Site: 0.2 acre; Construction cost: Withheld; Photographer: Anice Hoachlander.


Product details

Bathroom and kitchen cabinets: Oceanic Ventures, www.oceanic-cabinetry.com; Bathroom fittings: Hansgrohe, www.hansgrohe-usa.com; Bathroom fixtures: Kohler, www.kohler.com, Duravit, www.duravit.com, TOTO USA, www.totousa.com; Cooktop, dishwasher, and oven: Miele, www.mieleusa.com; Countertops: Silestone, www.silestoneusa.com, DuPont, www.dupont.com; Garbage disposer: InSinkErator, www.insinkerator.com; Hardware: Omnia, www.omniahardwaredepot.com; HVAC equipment: York, www.york.com; Kitchen fittings: KWC, www.kwcamerica.com; Kitchen fixtures: Just, www.justmfg.com; Lighting fixtures: Bega, www.bega-us.com, Lightolier, www.lightolier.com, Stonco, www.stoncolighting.com, Zaneen, www.zaneen.com; Paints: Sherwin-Williams, www.sherwin-williams.com; Refrigerator: Sub-Zero, www.subzero.com; Windows: Pella, www.pella.com

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Washington, DC.