The range of unique residences in Washington DC is astounding. From historic DC rowhouses to charming colonial country retreats in the surrounding suburban areas, the DC metro area boasts some beautiful homes. Many top residential architects in this area are intrigued by the introduction of modern elements in historic structures. There are even a few who are passionate fans of classical architecture. The architects on this list enjoy working with homeowners who have a vision, and they work to collaborate with them to bring that vision to life. This list is comprised of top firms that are winning awards for their ability to transform unique homes.
This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who can both design stunning homes but differ in other services offered. Architects are trained in design, engineering, and project management and have passed a licensing exam. Residential designers typically don’t manage projects and plans will need to be approved by a structural engineer. Whether you choose to hire an architect or a residential designer will depend on your project needs and complexity.
Barnes Vanze Architects
Traditional Building’s Palladio Awards,
DC Chapter AIA Awards for Excellence
1000 Potomac Street NW, Suite L-2, Washington, DC 20007
About Barnes Vanze Architects
Barnes Vanze Architects was established in 1989 by Anthony “Ankie” Barnes and Stephen Vanze. Barnes received his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and his Master of Architecture from Yale University. Vanze, on the other hand, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University and his Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia. They are both Fellows within the AIA. The firm, specializing in the traditional style prominent in the DC area, has won several awards, including the Traditional Building’s Palladio awards and the DC Chapter of the AIA’s Awards for Excellence. Barnes Vanze Architects has also been published in many print and online publications. The firm is composed of a group of 23 members, which when broken down includes six principals and its very own talented studio team. It does not limit itself to residential architecture and has also taken on a variety of commercial, institutional, and ecclesiastic projects. Further, it has had the opportunity of completing projects both nationwide and abroad, with some of its most notable work found in areas from Canada to the Caribbean.
An eye-catching design by Barnes Vanze is their “A Modern Treatment of Traditional Form” Washington, DC residence. The steel-framed windows and doors add clean lines to the design. The design allows for the formal spaces in front of the house, while the casual spaces are in the back. An interesting detail is an exterior brick treated with a pigmented cement wash, which allows for more shine and a muted brick texture. Another standout project is their Isle de France Townhouse. Inspired by Parisian townhouses, the front facade is natural stucco with limestone trim. Because of the L-shaped plan, nature around the house was preserved and allows for several views from the rooms and plenty of natural light. The French doors are a beautiful added touch.
David Jameson Architect
Virginia Society AIA Merit Award,
American Architecture Award,
Residential Architect Magazine Merit Award,
Washington DC AIA Award of Excellence
7800 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814
About David Jameson Architect
Founded in 2001, this small firm is committed to excellence. Formerly based in DC and now in Bethesda, David Jameson Architects has received over 175 design awards and has been featured in over 200 publications, including the Architectural Record, Abitare, Architecture, Architectural Digest, and the Architectural Review. In 2011, London-based Wallpaper named the firm as one of the top four US firms to follow. In 2012, The Wall Street Journal listed it as one of the top ten residential architecture firms in the US. In addition to all of these, its principal architect and namesake has had the honor of being named one of as one of the Architectural Digest’s youngest members in its annual AD100 roster. Jameson also lectures at several universities in the area and has led the firm into becoming known for its craft for a diverse set of designs.
Jameson is known for his minimalist designs in the DC metro area. This can be seen in his project, the Barcode house. Working with the original framework of a DC rowhouse, Jameson also designed an addition that was a freestanding structure. A glass window wall is a main feature of the house and reflects the residents’ desire to have a transparent living space. The house won several awards, including the 2013 Virginia Society AIA Merit Award and the 2012 American Architecture Award. Another well-received project was the BlackWhite residence. Again using the original framework, Jameson found inspiration in the Acropolis and incorporated the idea of light coming from a central source and interacting within the space. He renovated the main area, while also adding a second level that had a significantly smaller eco-footprint. The design garnered him several awards: the 2010 International Architecture Award, the 2010 Residential Architect Magazine Merit Award, and the 2007 Washington DC AIA Award of Excellence.
David Lococo Architects
About David Lococo Architects
David Lococo focuses on single-family residences. He has served as a judge for AIA, national magazines, and kitchen and builders associations. Lococo’s work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, and House Beautiful. Lococo has had the honor of designing a home for former US President Bill Clinton and many interior designers. He was also awarded Benjamin Moore’s internationally known Hue Award and Southern Living Magazine’s Home of the Year Award. Lococo’s background in painting and piano performance infuses his designs. He enjoys contrasting styles within a single design. He studied piano performance at the Royal Conservatory of Music before receiving his architectural degree. He then earned his master’s at the University of Michigan. The firm does not limit itself to one particular style and is known for its expertise in a wide range of architectural themes. It is regarded as one of the DC area’s most outstanding firms and explores various living spaces, crafting and designing no two alike.
One of Lococo’s most well-known projects is the Craftsman Treehouse. This vacation home was inspired by a treehouse and is only accessible by a bridge. Transparent kitchen cabinets and walls give room for the expansive views, while the ceiling features mortise and tenon trusses. It received an award from the Washingtonian and was recognized by AIA. An exceptional project is the House of Moving Walls, a residence once owned by Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. The renovation included adding more windows to lighten up the entry space. There was also an addition of expansive glass in the living space to allow for more light. The warm wood and varying panel patterns are details that make this space feel welcoming.
Jones & Boer Architects Inc.
Northern Virginia Chapter AIA Award of Excellence,
John Russell Pope Award, Washington Chapter AIA Award in Excellence,
1739 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
About Jones & Boer Architects Inc.
Led by its founder and namesakes David Jones and Wouter Boer, Jones and Boer Architects operates out of its office in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of DC. Its principals maintain a hands-on approach with each of the firm’s projects and are experienced in the field. Along with his undergraduate and professional degrees from Princeton University, Jones studied at King’s College and Cambridge. He previously worked at Hartman-Cox Architects — another DC firm. Wouter, a native New Zealander, studied at home and earned his professional degree at the University of Notre Dame. He was previously a faculty member at the University of Maryland. The firm has won several awards, including a 2017 Northern Virginia Chapter AIA Award of Excellence for Residential Architecture, a John Russell Pope Award, a Washington Chapter AIA Award in Excellence, and a Palladio Award. Jones and Boer Architects has also been featured in several publications, such as Southern Home, the Washington Post, and Architectural Digest. Diving into its portfolio, you will see a rich gallery of contemporary and waterfront homes, in addition to numerous elegantly styled traditional homes which best showcase its team’s versatility.
An especially noteworthy project is their modern take on a Shaker farmhouse on 68 acres near the West River, south of Annapolis. The design was inspired by Middleburg Plantation, a 1690s wooden house in Charleston, South Carolina. The property contains the beautiful farmhouse, a simple barn, and a smaller outbuilding. Designed as a weekend getaway, the 4,000-square-foot retreat was designed for family living. There are three bedrooms and three bathrooms upstairs and another guest room in the 19th-century guest cottage, close to the main house. Another project is their Chain Bridge Roadhouse, which is a 150k-square-foot mansion with eight bedrooms, 11 full baths, and four half baths. The residence is modeled as an urban villa, based on the historic framework. The mansion also includes a geothermal cooling and heating system.
Custom Builder Award,
AIA-Washingtonian Residential Award,
Residential Architect Merit Award,
Builder’s Choice Grand Award
120 Fourth Street SE, Washington, DC 20003
About Lawlor Architects
Founded in 2003 and based out of the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood in Washington DC, Lawlor Architects specializes in single-family residences. Because of its small size, this boutique firm prides itself on the personalized attention it gives its clients. Stephen Lawlor is the founding principal and graduated from Hobart College and the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in NYC. He then earned his Master of Architecture degree at the University of Maryland. Lawlor is involved with the DC chapter of AIA. Roberto Ramirez is the senior project architect at Lawlor. He received his bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park and his Master of Architecture from Morgan State in Baltimore, MD. The firm has won several awards, including the Chrysalis Award, Custom Builder Award, AIA-Washingtonian Residential Award, Residential Architect Merit Award, and Builder’s Choice Grand Award.
One of the firm’s featured projects is Corner Life, a residence on a block that required special attention due to zoning laws, preservation, and engineering issues. Some of the features include a full master suite with a walk-in glass shower with salvaged wood details, enlarged dining, and living area, and a flagstone terrace area in the backyard. There is also a 2,000-square-foot basement with a two-bedroom in-law apartment, wine cellar, and exercise room. Another noteworthy project is their Brooklyn x DC residence. The owners were moving to DC but wanted their new home to contain some Brooklyn design elements. Over 100 years old, the home was renovated again to allow for more light on each level. High-efficiency equipment and fixtures were installed all throughout the home.
Neumann Lewis Buchanan Architects
AIA North Virginia Award of Merit,
Washington Chapter AIA/Washingtonian Residential Design Award,
Dream Homes Greater Washington DC
1350 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 210, Washington, DC 20036
About Neumann Lewis Buchanan Architects
With an office in both DC and Virginia, Neumann Lewis Buchanan Architects design homes with the intention of making them a family legacy. David Neumann, a founding partner, was a past president of the DC Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. He was also elected to the AIA College of Fellows in 2014. His work has been featured and published in Traditional Home, Luxe Interiors + Design, House Beautiful, Southern Accents, Garden Design, Southern Living, and the Washington Post. Andy Lewis is another partner at the firm and has the special skill of architectural illustration. A graduate and recipient of a one-year faculty honorarium at Virginia Tech, Lewis’s work has been featured nationwide. The third partner is Mark Buchanan, who received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington and studied engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He is especially interested in classical architecture.
One of the firm’s featured projects is Happy Choice Farms. The home is a Federal-style farmhouse situated on over 80 acres of land in Maryland’s Montgomery County. The original property had a farmhouse that was too close to the road, so the new design included moving the house back to get more views. The combination of brick and clapboard give the home a sense of timelessness and helped earn the firm an Award of Merit in 2009 from the Northern Virginia Chapter of AIA. Another favorite project is Vandalia, a residence that overlooks the Potomac River in Jefferson County, West Virginia. While this new limestone house was recently constructed, it was designed to look as if it had been added onto over time. The gorgeous views of the river were captured, and several outbuildings were constructed on the property. It won the firm several awards, including The Palladio Award 2008, Washington Chapter AIA/Washingtonian Residential Design Award 2007, and Dream Homes Greater Washington DC, 2008.
AIA Northern Virginia’s Juror’s Citation
105 N Maple Avenue, Suite 100, Falls Church, VA 22046
About Moore Architects
Primarily a residential design firm, Moore Architects has completed over 300 projects in the Washington DC area. It was founded in 1989 by Charles Moore, who earned his Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Tech. Moore is also the former dean of Yale University. Moore Architects has been recognized nationally by the AIA, the Washington Architectural Foundation, and the Arlington County Preservation Design Awards Program. The firm has been in publications such as Home Magazine, Fine Homebuilding Magazine, Architectural Digest, Southern Living Magazine, Washingtonian Magazine, and The Washington Post. It has even had its projects featured on HGTV’s programs Dream Home and What You Get for the Money. It provides clients with a hands-on approach throughout the entire process and offers a full range of services. It specializes in both new homes and large-scale renovations, in addition to retail, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation projects.
An excellent design Moore Architect’s Little Island House. Built on the Cape Cod shore, the house replaced a rundown 1950s rambler. The new design contributed to an expansive, new, unobstructed view through a change in grade, as the old house was built on sunken ground behind trees. The house features its communal living spaces on the second floor to best utilize those views. There is even a fourth floor with a private loft and study. It won a Juror’s Citation from the AIA Northern Virginia. Another notable project is the Lakefront Residence in Falls Church, Virginia. The 4,900-square-foot home still has the original split-level framework. The main feature of the house is the master bedroom, which is surrounded by the forest outside, giving it a treehouse vibe.
Robert M Gurney
Robert M Gurney
National AIA Honor awards,
National AIA Housing awards,
American Architecture Awards,
National AIA Small Project awards
5110 ½ MacArthur Boulevard NW, Washington, DC 20016
About Robert M Gurney
Robert Gurney has expertise in building on both historic and vacant sites. His firm has won over 200 local, state, and national awards, including two National AIA Honor awards, six National AIA Housing Awards, six American Architecture awards, and three national AIA Small Project awards. Not only has the studio been featured in several prominent publications, it is also the subject of the monograph Modern Order: Houses by Robert Gurney. Gurney has also been active in architecture organizations and schools. He served as a member of the AIA Northern Virginia Chapter Board of Directors, Design Committee, and Schools Connection Committee; and the Virginia Society State Design Committee. In 2002, Gurney was elevated to the College Fellows of the AIA. His leadership and skill has led the firm into becoming one of the area’s most recognizable firms, best noted for its excellent command in modern architecture.
Gurney’s design for the House on Solitude Creek is especially notable. The house, built in 1989, was a Dutch Colonial style home. Because of regulations and zoning codes, it could not be demolished, but the structure had to be updated to reflect new codes. Gurney removed the structure to the foundation and then raised it to a new height, which allowed the renovated home to take advantage of the beautiful views. Gurney also provided plentiful light-filled spaces to accommodate the owner’s modern art collection. Another featured project is his work on the Watergate apartment, a home in one of the most desired complexes in Washington, DC. The apartment had never been renovated since its building in the 1960s, so Gurney gutted the interiors. The design was minimal and crisp and allowed for grand views of the Potomac and the Key Bridge.
Thomson and Cooke
Custom Builder Award,
Designers’ Choice Awards
5155 MacArthur Boulevard NW, Washington, DC 20016
About Thomson and Cooke
Based in DC, Thomson, and Cooke is a custom residential architecture firm. Its founders met in college but attended different graduate schools. Afterward, they reconnected at the same firm before forming their own a decade later. Neal Thomson, founder and principal, received his Master of Architecture from the University of Michigan. Co-founder Patrick Cooke, on the other hand, has practiced architecture in the Washington, DC area since 2001. He spent two years at the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, where he earned his Master of Architecture from Virginia Tech. The firm has designed residences in both urban and suburban neighborhoods in DC, as well as waterfront properties in the Chesapeake Bay. The firm is a proud recipient of the 2016 Custom Builder Award, in addition to several other noteworthy distinctions. The firm specializes in both new homes and large scale renovation projects and is noted for its excellent blending of traditional American residential design with an updated aesthetics
One of the firm’s signature projects was for a Town & Garden residence. The historic Colonial home had its entire rear facade completely redesigned to better connect the eating and living areas to the beautiful surrounding gardens. Similarly, the renovated kitchen and breakfast area had new glass walls put in to allow for more views. A pool changing room and mudroom gave the home another rear entrance. Another exciting design is their American Four Square. The interior was redone to allow for art displayed throughout the home and a redesigned and spacious kitchen. A new covered porch boasts a peaceful sitting area with a gorgeous fireplace. A new staircase and twisting carved handrail was installed to ensure a seamless connection between all four floors in the residence.
William L. Feeney
William L. Feeney
AIA Watermark Award
4519 Chesapeake Street NW, Washington, DC 20016
About William L. Feeney
Led by its founder and namesake, William L. Feeney draws expertise from decades of experience in the industry. This studio offers potential clients with a full range of architectural services and makes use of a high hands-on approach. It takes pride in its capabilities of taking on projects regardless of scale and has completed both 14,000-square-foot homes and a one-square-inch adornment. Through direct collaboration between the owner, builder, and architect, the firm’s process is always focused on design. Feeney notes that all aspects of the finished product should strive to embody the initial intention. He has designed in both a modern and traditional style. Mostly specializing in residential architecture, the firm has also taken on other unique projects, including an art studio. Noted for its innovative designs, the firm is licensed in DC, Maryland, and Delaware. It is involved with the North Virginia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The firm won a Watermark Award for their work on the Locker Residence.
One of its noted projects is the renovation of a 43rd Street bungalow. The residence has a unique, lower-level family room and library space. A color palette of warm red and yellow was used throughout the house. A spacious custom countertop with plenty of storage space separates the kitchen from the family room. An office space holds plenty of room for bookcases and a unique loft space for extra storage or an extra bed. Another outstanding example of their work is the 4208 Anthony Street residence. The home has a crisp, white color palette. Shining, dark hardwood floors were installed. The home has an expansive master bathroom with a tub, shower, and custom closet space. Ample windows on the lower level in the front of the home, in addition to the entryway, allow for maximum natural lighting.