To say that this jewel box of a home bucks the trend in its affluent neighborhood is an understatement. The concrete exterior is the most obvious difference, but a glance around the neighborhood reveals that the home’s reduced footprint is just as distinctive.

“It’s a really desirable place to live,” says architect Robert Gurney of the area, “but lately smaller houses have been replaced with homes that are the maximum size allowed. As a result, homes are too large and out of proportion for their lot.”

Gurney and his client—a young, forward-thinking entrepreneur with no desire for a traditional home—took the opposite tack. At 2,200 square feet, the new house occupies one-third less space than the one it replaced, with a simple and efficient plan. A flat roof provides another 1,100 square feet of outdoor living space, with views of the treetops and even downtown Bethesda. “Instead of a large house with pretentious ties to the past, this new house is smaller with a stronger relationship to the modern, urban area Bethesda has become,” the firm says.