A Modern Perch on the Potomac River

Washington, DC

The owners wanted to construct a modern home nestled on the Potomac River. However, the lot proved to be a challenge in more ways than one.

The first challenge was the size. The lot was narrow and compact, which meant we needed to work within extremely tight space restrictions. In filling the owner’s desire for optimal air quality in their home, we installed a geothermal heating and cooling system. But before we could drill wells for the system in the backyard, extensive sheeting and shoring was required due to the narrow size of the lot.

The second challenge was the location. Sound was a big issue, as the home is in the flight path of Reagan National Airport. So we had to build walls that conformed to a much higher sound transmission standard to block out loud airplane noise.

Another issue was waterproofing. All exterior cladding was designed and installed as a rain screen, with multiple penetrations. The use of multiple types of materials and an abundance of penetrations meant our team had to pay meticulous attention to each transition to ensure proper coverage and performance.

To maximize our limited space, we constructed a side balcony off the master suite that forms the roof of a study below. There, large corner windows with breathtaking tree-lined views give the airy feeling of a much larger home, creating the most inviting work-from-home space for the owners.

Project Details

The south-facing, 40-foot-tall glass stair tower is designed as a light shaft to bring natural light to the center of the house — creating an open and airy atmosphere.