muse architects, washington, d.c.

For years, Muse Architects concentrated nearly exclusively on custom homes and remodels. Now the firm takes on some institutional projects as well, but it hasn't forgotten the lessons that house design taught. "You learn a lot from residential work," says principal Stephen Muse, FAIA. "It's that idea of wanting to make something a meaningful, memorable place." This desire played into the design of a campus housing project at St. Mary's College in southern Maryland, and the judges noticed. "They made a place out of nowhere," said one.

Another judge called the site plan "ingenious." Muse and his staff broke down the dormitory into four buildings, all opening onto a central lawn. A covered walkway links the structures, which hold mostly six-, 10-, and 14-bed suites. The plan effectively creates a small community within the larger campus. And the project's residential scale and traditional materials treat its historical context respectfully.

principal in charge: Stephen Muse, FAIA, Muse Architects
project architect: William Kirwan, AIA, Muse Architects
developer: St. Mary's College of Maryland, St. Mary's City, Md.
general contractor: Wayne Davis, W.M. Davis, Leonardtown, Md.
landscape architect: Pearse O'Doherty, O'Doherty Graham Landscape Architects, Annapolis, Md.
project size: 420 to 2,000 square feet per unit
site size: 2.5 acres
construction cost: $130 per square foot
units in project: 25
photographer: Alan Karchmer (C)2002