Great Falls

Great Falls, VA United States


Project Description

2006 CHDA

Accessory Building / Grand Award

A diminutive 196 square feet in plan, this simple pavilion makes a big statement about the power of architecture to enhance an already special environment. The 5 acres of tree-dotted fields it shares with a recent Craftsman-style house also encompass a small, picturesque pond. The owners always loved that spot. But without a shelter in which to linger, says architect Robert Gurney, “there was no reason to go down there.” With little more than a pickup-load of materials (plus a pile of rocks for the chimney), Gurney supplied that and more. His pavilion seems to float above the landscape, its light steel frame contrasting with a massive stone chimney that suggests the remnant of a long-lost building. A steep hip roof gives the tiny building a significant presence in the landscape. Details, which include flush ipe decking and an exposed fir-and-mahogany roof structure, reflect a stringent simplicity of design and precise execution.

The net effect, which combines openness and a sheltering sense of enclosure, can be grasped at a glance, and our judges were just as quickly captivated. “The sweetest little piece of architecture. It's perfect,” remarked one. “It's proportioned beautifully,” noted another. And, perhaps the highest praise of all: “I wish I had done that.”


Project Details

Great Falls
Shared by:
Project Team:
    Robert M. Gurney, Architect.
  • Entrant: Robert M. Gurney 
  • Builder: SugarOak 
  • Photographer: Anice Hoachlander 
Project Scope:
Project Type:
Room Or Space:
Project Status:
Project Size:
    196 sq ft

Specified Products

Fireplace: Rumford; Lighting Fixtures: Louis Poulsen and Stonco.



Please read our Content Guidelines before posting.

Similar Projects


Other South Atlantic Projects