Urban residence, Baltimore
Swanston & Associates

Old and new coexist happily in countless renovations, but rarely are they juxtaposed so ingeniously as on this home in urban Baltimore. The latest in a series of warehouse-to-single-family-home conversions on this street, it sits within the shell of the original building. Architect Rebecca Swanston executed a virtual teardown--a fact that caused our judges to reassign the project from the renovation to the custom category. Swanston did retain three existing brick walls to act as a framework, while a remnant fourth encloses an outdoor courtyard that spans the 45-foot-wide rear of the house. The judges praised the unexpected view of old brick through a wall of windows along the first-floor living spaces.

Swanston's masterful floor plan unfolds along a diagonal axis that only gradually reveals the courtyard and the house's piFce de rTsistance--a towering glass pyramid piercing two stories. "With the brick wall outside, I wanted to celebrate the space with a more sculptural piece," Swanston says. "You can see rain cascading down the glass; it changes with the weather." The pyramid also funnels light into the center of the house, an unexpected delight in this Federal-period neighborhood. In the six months since the owners moved in, any reservations they had about building something so unusual have long since faded from memory.

Project Architect: Rebecca Swanston, AIA, Swanston & Associates
General Contractor: LCM Associates, Baltimore
Project Size: 3,300 square feet
Site Size: .06 acre
Construction Cost: $185 per square foot