Architect Kai Tong, with Hopkins & Porter in Potomac, Md., said that “the porch is doing exactly what the owners want it to: It embraces their backyard, is functionally connected to what happens inside the house, and it gives them good access through two different locations for landscaping tasks.”

Merit Award: Design/Build: Backyard Embrace

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Architect Kai Tong, with Hopkins & Porter in Potomac, Md., said that “the porch is doing exactly what the owners want it to: It embraces their backyard, is functionally connected to what happens inside the house, and it gives them good access through two different locations for landscaping tasks.”

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The judges were charmed, admitting that none had ever seen a design like this. It's a “perfect solution; it's not awkward, there is great craftsmanship, and the concept is spectacular,” they said.

Tong developed a semicircular screened porch with varying roof planes to control rain runoff. The water cascades from one plane to another, eventually falling to the ground into a “streambed” lined with river rock. One section of the roof tilts upward to capture views of sky and treetops; another roof plane tilts down so those inside can focus on other backyard features.

“It looks great from the inside out,” said one judge. “I'd put in a heated floor and live there.”

Category: Design/build, under $100,000

Location: Bethesda, Md.

Contractor: Hopkins & Porter, Potomac, Md.

Designer: Kai Tong, Hopkins & Porter