Richmond, Virginia is a city of orderly row houses and an historic urban context as rich as Charleston, Georgetown, or Philadelphia. It is rare to happen upon a vacant urban lot, and even rarer that it be in a designated Historic District. We have designed a decidedly modernist urban Row House in Richmond’s historic Jackson Ward neighborhood for a client from Atlanta.
It is a place of tall narrow houses with front porches, cast iron balustrades, bay windows, and intricate brick cornices. The design is born of this context but extends a lineage of tradition reinterpreted for this time and the client’s lifestyle. The result is a taut 20′x48′ rectangular box on three levels with a centrally located sky lit light-well inside that bathes the heart of the house with light. The light well bisects the plan and cross section front to back nearly symmetrically. Transparent glass bridges span across the vertical shaft of light and white walls.
A projecting glass and metal window bay on the front facade was inspired by the bay windows that punctuate many of the historic houses on the street. Ground floor black steel and iron porch details, light brick, and a solid mahogany entry door complete the expression with a nod to its place in the city, but also its place in time.
The design received unanimous approval by the Richmond Commission of Architectural Review. The guidelines are similar to the standards set by the Secretary of the Interior, in which new construction shall be clearly discernible from the historic, but relate in materials, massing, and form.