Ontario House cleverly eases two common pressures of urban row houses—a shortage of sunlight and private outdoor space. Faced with a 14-foot-wide remnant plot where two older row-house blocks converged, David Jameson, FAIA, designed a tall, handsome building that gives back some of the former green space.
The wood-clad building is sandwiched between two protruding zinc walls, veiling the adjoining row homes. “D.C. row houses are almost 100 percent masonry. This was a void space, metaphorically lighter, so these two suede-like metal walls bounce sunlight, and the Shou Sugi Ban rainscreen feels light. It allowed us to tuck in sliding doors and various other things,” David says.
The building’s setbacks carved out patio space on both ends of the house. Mesh panels support vertical gardens, screening the street and views from a five-story building across the alley. In the front, the gridded panels also obscure the entrance to a rental unit tucked under the front patio.
Inside, the central staircase echoes the diagram of the house, with two solid metal railing walls and perforated steel steps that funnel sunlight through the house. He built high to provide a fourth-floor aerie with front and rear decks and a rooftop lounge that looks over the top of adjacent buildings to Rock Creek Park and the National Zoo.
Urban infill is always ripe for reinvention, and this one considered all the angles while creating tiny planted microclimates. “I wanted to leave the idea to the neighborhood that it was still a green space,” David says.
CUSTOM URBAN HOUSE
DAVID JAMESON ARCHITECT
ARCHITECT: David Jameson, FAIA, principal in charge; project architects: Patrick McGowan, Frank Curtis, Christopher Cabacar, David Jameson Architect, Bethesda, Maryland
BUILDER: PureForm Builders, Bethesda
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Linton Engineering, Potomac Falls, Virginia
MEP CONSULTANT: Foley Mechanical, Lorton, Virginia
LIGHTING DESIGNER: David Tozer, North Potomac, Maryland
PROJECT SIZE: 4,600 square feet
SITE SIZE: 0.048 acres
CONSTRUCTION COST: Withheld
PHOTOGRAPHY: Paul Warchol Photography
CABINETRY: Custom by Regency Custom Cabinets
CLADDING: Shou Sugi Ban by George Samaroo; Western States Metals
DOOR HARDWARE: Omnia Industries
FAUCETS: Hansgrohe; KWC (kitchen)
FIREPLACE: Spark Modern Fires
GARAGE DOORS: Custom by Crisway Garage Doors
HUMIDITY CONTROL: ClimateMaster
INSULATION: Icynene Spray Insulation
LANDSCAPE PRODUCTS: Green Screen by Metal Specialities’ Steve Prudhomme
PAINTS: Benjamin Moore
ROOFING: Modified bitumen by Classic Exteriors
WINDOWS: Western Windows Systems
Plans and Drawings