Grand Award: Tree House Tower

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This winning remodel enlarges the existing home by adding a four-story tower and takes every opportunity to make the most of the home's stunning forest setting.

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Location: Great Falls, Va.

Contractor: MT Puskar Construction, Flint Hill, Va.

Designer: Janet Bloomberg, Mark Lawrence, Laura Sinn, Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.

The owners of this house purchased the property because they liked the stunning forest setting. They hired Kube Architecture to enlarge the existing house, which was too small, and to update it with a contemporary design. The clients thought they just needed a small addition to expand the master bedroom, but, to fit the steep slope at the back of the house and add some interest to the original low, symmetrical structure, architect Janet Bloomberg added a four-story tower, which, she says, “picks up on the verticality of the trees.”

Windows in the tower, which contains an airy two-story library, recess into and push forward from the structure, which gives them a three-dimensional feel. “The windows start to have life instead of a flat skin,” Bloomberg says. The large windows also frame the landscape. “There are a series of shapes, so you see the landscape in a different way as you move up the tower,” she says. Instead of residential units, the large openings use more cost-effective commercial aluminum windows.

On the interior, the Kube team designed a bookcase to separate the stairs from the adjoining space, and this storage minimizes the need for furniture. Bloomberg said she focused on the bookcase and the windows in the tower to make them really special, and that the rest of the structure was a backdrop to these two elements. The judges were impressed by how consistent the design is inside and outside.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.