Launch Slideshow

Hampden Lane House, Bethesda, Md.

Hampden Lane House, Bethesda, Md.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    Mahogany and ground-face concrete block landscape walls complement the cube and orchestrate the relationship between the street, a required parking court, and the house.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    A large window in the master bedroom frames leafy views.

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    Courtesy Robert M. Gurney

    Axonometric view. The roof provides an additional 1,100 square feet of outdoor living space.

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    Courtesy Robert M. Gurney

    Site plan.

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    Courtesy Robert M. Gurney

    Basement and first floor plan.

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    Courtesy Robert M. Gurney

    Second floor plan and roof plan.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    A trim steel staircase hugs the side of the building and leads to a rooftop deck.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    Ribbonlike windows edit out unwanted views.

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    An open kitchen and dining area preserve views to the backyard.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    Walnut flooring anchors the white walls and millwork.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    Bright white interiors are juxtaposed with a charcoal-gray exterior.

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    The owner requested a compact building footprint to maximize the outdoor space.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    A full-height door opens to the master bedroom and adjoining bath.

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    Maxwell MacKenzie

    Crisp detailing complements the white-on-white master bath.

In an upscale urban neighborhood where new houses are swallowing their lots, this four-bedroom dwelling shows startling restraint. Occupying one-third less space than its predecessor, the elegant cube preserves the lot’s lush backyard and mature trees. Ribbonlike windows and a glass wall at the rear frame those garden views, and ground-faced block cladding offers the durable, maintenance-free exterior the owner was after. “The whole house, including windows and door heights, was designed around the size of the block modules,” says architect Robert M. Gurney. “There is no cut block.”

There also is no wasted space. The rooftop holds a 1,100-square-foot deck, which is reached via a lithe steel stair that hangs off the side of the building. “We didn’t want to eat up interior space with a long stair,” Gurney says. “It’s a nice experience going out of the house, up the stairs, back into the building, and up to the roof.” Layered sections of mahogany and charcoal-colored block walls define the entry sequence and establish a rhythm from the street. Inside, dark walnut flooring and white walls provide a canvas for the furnishings.

“To make it so simple is so much more difficult,” a judge said approvingly. Another singled out the entry canopy, noting that “it respects the scale of the neighborhood.”


Entrant/Architect: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect, Washington, D.C.; Project architect: Brian Tuskey, Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect; Builder: Freedom First Homes, Bethesda, Md.; Living space: 2,200 square feet; Site: 0.23 acre; Photographer: Maxwell MacKenzie.


Resources: Bathroom fittings: Vola, www.vola.com; Bathroom fixtures: Duravit, www.duravit.com; Cooktop: Wolf, www.subzero-wolf.com; Dishwasher: Bosch, www.bosch-home.com; Doors: Weathershield, www.weathershield.com; Kitchen fittings: Vola, www.vola.com; Lighting fixtures: Artemide, www.artemide.us, Bega, www.bega-us.com, Lightolier, www.lightolier.com, Stonco, www.stonco.com, Buschfeld, www.buschfeld.de, LBL Lighting, www.lbllighting.com; Oven: Wolf, www.subzero-wolf.com; Paints/stains/wall finishes: Sherwin-Williams, www.sherwin-williams.com; Refrigerator: Sub-Zero, www.subzero-wolf.com; Windows: Weathershield, www.weathershield.com