robert m. gurney, faia, alexandria, va.

When it came time to liberate her dark, disorienting apartment in a Beaux-Arts building, this client—a psychiatrist—prescribed an orderly, austere environment, perhaps as an antidote to the daily hazards of her practice. For Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, that meant stripping it to the structure and stacks. The new living spaces are strikingly clear-minded, thanks to a linear floor plan and a reductive palette of white walls, aluminum accents, stainless steel countertops, translucent-glass room dividers, limestone floors, and wenge paneling and cabinetry.

Rather than being cold and clinical, however, the apartment glows with light. A floating translucent-glass panel at one end of the living area and three panels at the other diffuse the intense natural light and add a sense of mystery about what lies beyond. In order to visually connect the entry and kitchen, Gurney designed a curved ceiling plane that also hides the obligatory ductwork.

The jury applauded the consistent, comprehensive interior. “The details are elegant, and a common thread runs through them,” said one judge. “It's integrated perfectly.” Gurney says his client's program inspired the everything-in-perfect-place-all-the-time look. “The apartment looks like the photo every day,” he says.

principal in charge: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA
project architect: Brian Tuskey, Robert M. Gurney, FAIA
general contractor: Richard Hazboun, Added Dimensions, Takoma Park, Md.
interior designer: Thérèse Baron Gurney, ASID, Baron Gurney Interiors, Washington, D.C.
project size: 1,800 square feet
construction cost: Withheld
photography: Maxwell MacKenzie