Aponi Road
vienna, virginia

Explanation of Project including scope:

Our clients relocated from Colorado and purchased this split-level house in Vienna, primarily because of the location; great neighborhood, schools, facilities and other social amenities.

However, apart from the location of the property, the existing house did not satisfy the current spatial, functional and aesthetic needs of the clients. Our clients loved modern architectural design characterized by open plan spatial arrangements dictated by function, simplicity and timelessness. The spaces in the existing house were compartmentalized with outdated appliances and fixtures.

The design program called for the redesign of these spaces, elimination of the boxed in spaces, and the creation of an “airy, spacious and cheerful space filled with lots of natural light”.

Though the clients wanted a single volume of space, they also wanted zones within this new space to be clearly defined in terms of function; living, cooking and dining.

Our clients required us to create a new contemporary space filled with warmth, light and a visual connection to the outdoors. “We lean towards contemporary design, though we do not want the ‘coldness’ typically associated with it”, they explained.

Having a double car garage was a must for the clients. The existing house only had an open carport.

Unusual Constraints or challenges:

The biggest challenge was the integration of the existing traditional house with a new, modern two-level addition with the goal of arriving at a design solution that fit in neighborhood in terms of design scale.

The location of the property in Vienna is characterized by an ongoing trend of demolishing and whole scale tear-downs of existing buildings, which are mostly replaced with new buildings that are out of place and legitimately qualify as monstrosities in the neighborhood.

GMA’s challenge was to produce a new building with a new and refreshing aesthetic that fit in the neighborhood. Look different but still belong.

Another challenge was financial which encouraged GMA to keep and preserve most of the existing split level structure after an in-depth design analysis of the existing structure.

Figuring out a way to introduce light, increase the volume of space and visually connect the new interior space to the outside, was a challenge since the existing roof and masonry walls were to remain.

Creative solutions to the challenges:

GMA kept the structure of existing building; walls, floors and roof. Instead of totally demolishing these, the building underwent a careful ‘surgery’, with GMA meticulously and sensitively adding new architectural elements such as new clerestory windows to existing roof while maintaining roof structure; adding a new porch with skylights; converting the existing open carport to a new enclosed two-car garage; and extending existing chimney.

To create a new spacious volume of space:

  • an 18-foot wide opening was punched in the existing load bearing wall
  • new ceiling planes that followed the slope of the existing roof allowed the design team to increase the height of the new opening to 10 feet and this in turn
  • made it possible for clear, uninterrupted sight lines from front to rear of the remodeled first floor

The introduction of new clerestory windows in the existing roof plane allows even more natural light to wash the interior spaces, satisfying one of the clients’ critical requirements.

The existing section of the house was ‘modernized’ with elements such as stained red cedar boards, aluminum-clad casement windows and stucco siding over existing brick.

Overall results of the project:

Like our clients now love to say; “The result of this remodeling journey is there for all to see. Though different by way of its modern style, the new building fits right in the neighborhood.”

A recent door-to-door survey by GMA, and comments gleaned from an open house, indicates that neighbors approve of the new makeover and addition. The ‘new neighbor’ is not considered as a monstrosity. Rather, it’s like the house that has always been there. The new pacesetter for how houses should look like in the neighborhood.

But most importantly, our clients’ needs are satisfied, they approve of the new look and function of their new home. They are happy!

g. manu & associates - architectural design & build

g. manu & associates - architectural design & build