Best of the Year: Urban Renewal

A light, open, contemporary renovation for a historic rowhouse in Washington, D.C.

The owners of this end row house in Washington, D.C., wanted a more open space that felt like an art gallery. Architects John Burke, Hans Kuhn, and Chris DeHenzel came up with the idea of a light tunnel to bring an airy feel to the center of the house. The remodeled main floor of the home has the quality of a plaza or outdoor space.

The stairs lead to a tubular steel and glass bridge that spans two bedroom "cubes." The bridge opens up the view from the back bedroom window through the front bedroom bay window. The operable skylight above the bridge allows the owners to control the homes ventilation.

The homeowners wanted a green and durable countertop. These concrete blocks were cast off-site and then installed in the kitchen. Cabinet boxes from Ikea are finished with custom veneer cabinet doors and drawer fronts. A tubular hood provides ventilation without compromising the light, airy feel of the room.

The contractor removed the original two-story deck and replaced the small windows with large expanses of glass. The rear opening on the main floor has doors that fold back enhancing the connection to the outdoors. Behind the orange wall to the left is a closet for outdoor-furniture storage. The operable door in the upstairs bedroom provides needed egress and ventilation. The designers chose the door because the manufacturer does not make an operable window in that size.

A small bump-out in the kitchen houses a built-in desk above a radiator. A narrow window brings light into the house while maintaining privacy.

The owners wanted to preserve the existing front faade of the Capitol Hill row house for historic considerations and to blend in with the neighborhood.

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