Bethesda, Maryland


Architect Robert Gurney and his client, a young entrepreneur with a large family, shocked the residents of the Edgemoor section of Bethesda, Maryland, with the house they created. It was not because of the design's Modernist roots, although the house is decidedly unlike the Colonial- and Craftsman-style ones nearby.

The surprise comes from its size. At just 2,200 square feet, the house is dwarfed by its stately, overscaled neighbors. 'Most of the new houses in the neighborhood are being built to the maximum size allowed by the zoning,' says Gurney. 'This was a different approach'with more outdoor space and a third less area for the house than what had been there.'

The client desired a totally efficient design for his 60-by-l50-foot property, which Gurney found in an understated cube. The elegance of the simple box startles in its lack of excess. Charcoal-gray ground-faced concrete block clads the wood-frame house, with rectangular and square windows of varying sizes punched out to capture views, control sunlight, and afford privacy to interior spaces.

Although small, the two-story house has a large basement and an 1,100-square-foot roof deck surfaced in ip' wood and edged by concrete-block parapet walls that afford glimpses of Bethesda's growing skyline. A steel staircase on the east elevation provides access to the deck from the second floor.

Gurney's client, whose office is two blocks away, often holds business meetings on the roof, or invites contacts from his financial services firm to dinner. Mostly, though, the house is for the family. 'We're very informal,' he says.

Inside the house, spaces are bright and open, with walnut floors, white walls, and stainless steel countertops as the main finishes. The four children (with one on the way) spend most of their time outside or in the basement, which contains one bedroom, a playroom, a media room, and a laundry. Other than a small office area, the ground floor is devoted to public spaces, including an open kitchen, while bedrooms are on the second floor.

'Not one part of this house goes unused,' says Gurney. His client agrees, and adds, 'It's a house of its time, and it's completely a reflection of me.'



Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect
5110 ½ MacArthur Blvd, NW
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 237-0925 (ph)
(202) 237-0927 (fax)

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit
Architect: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA

Project Architect: Brian Tuskey

Architect of record
Robert M. Gurney, FAIA

Associate architect(s)
Project  Architect: Brian Tuskey

D. Anthony Beale LLC

General contractor
John Thompson
Freedom First Homes

Maxwell MacKenzie Architectural Photographer



Structural system
Wood and Steel Framing

Exterior cladding
Masonry: Ground faced concrete block

Metal/glass curtainwall: Weathershield Windows and Doors; Parrett Sliding Doors

Wood: Mangaris Red Balau (Outdoor Deck + Screens)

Elastomeric: EPDM

Metal: Standing Seam on interior of Parapet wall.

Windows Weathershield Windows and Doors

Skylights: Custom

Entrances: Custom; Mahogany

Wood doors: Interior; Painted Wood

Sliding doors: Parrett

Locksets: FSB

Interior finishes
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Painted Wood

Paints and stains: Sherwin Williams

Floor and wall tile: 1x1 White Mosaic

Interior ambient lighting: Lightolier, Bega. LBL Lighting, Buschfeld

Downlights: Lightolier

Task lighting: Task Luche, Stonco

Bathroom Fixtures: Duravit; Custom Stainless Steel Sink

Bathroom Fittings: Vola

Kitchen Fixtures: Franke

Kitchen Fittings: Vola