In the architecturally staid environs of Washington, D.C., David Jameson, FAIA, has produced a long string of buildings animated by the power of ideas. The row house addition as high-rise tower in miniature, the teahouse as hanging glass lantern, the remodels and infill projects that gently undermine our schema of the suburban residence—and those that boldly subvert it altogether; each pursues its founding premise with a clarity remarkably resistant to the forces of compromise.
“There’s always some overarching or grounding idea that the work is positioned within,” Jameson explains. Reflecting this singleness of focus, his projects tend to acquire names. Jigsaw House replaces the wall-and-window convention with a series of interlocking solids and glazed voids. Black and White Residence tops white masonry boxes with black-framed glass boxes in a composition of almost schematic purity. “The grounding of the firm is this notion of distillation,” Jameson says. “We’re trying to do the optimum rather than the maximum.” Always, however, in service of the living experience, rather than simply for sculptural effect. While often adventurous in concept, the work is uniformly rigorous in execution and never gratuitous in response to its context.
Heading a relatively young firm, Jameson is deservedly well-established among the architects who are quietly making the Washington, D.C., area a showplace of residential modernism.
What is the most gratifying aspect of residential practice?
The collective gratification experienced when architects, clients, builders, and allied craftspeople are passionate about realizing a project.
What is the most frustrating aspect?
When projects are left unrealized due to unexpected circumstances.
What is your mission statement or firm goal?
A design studio founded upon a rigorous commitment to architectural excellence and client service.
What is the most indispensable tool in your office?
What software does your firm use?
Who is your ideal client?
One who welcomes challenge and is receptive to ideas.
What is your favorite building?
Pantheon in Rome.
If you didn’t have the time to design your own house, who would you hire?
Paul Rudolph. My work, like Rudolph’s, is about the experiential qualities of space.