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Project Completed Fall 2010
by Marcy Giannunzio, AIA

Working in an architectural firm that emphasizes collaboration—both within the firm and with our clients—has given me numerous opportunities to contribute to custom residential projects. Our two principals, Joseph E. Wnuk, AIA, and Steven L. Spurlock, FAIA, established WNUK SPURLOCK Architecture over 30 years ago, and have always encouraged emerging and young architects to learn the fundamentals of residential design while exploring their own innovative ideas. Our firm has experience in a number of residential project types, including projects as small as a kitchen remodel to as large as a multi-family condominium.

When presented with a mid-sized renovation project that required the updating of a dreary 80's facade, the replacement of an exterior rear deck, and the installation of protection at the front entrance, the Principal-in-Charge, Steven Spurlock, asked me as Project Architect to generate some design options and solutions. After presenting the sketches to the firm in a pin-up, Steven and I devised a concept for the project—Man-Made and Nature—inspired by the client’s interest in amateur Porsche racing and the picturesque wooded setting. With Steven’s input and feedback, I developed and executed the design concept.

To create a playful transition between the exterior and the interior, one initial exploration was to design the deck structure using standard lumber but to arrange the members to both mimic the trees nearby by creating "branches" and "trunks" and to structurally support the deck. Through the course of the project, this design was refined and evolved from a wood structure to galvanized steel posts. This change allowed us to meet the structural height requirements of the deck as well as to provide a more delicate and durable support structure. The unique support structure required thorough drawing documentation in order to fully communicate the design to the contractor and steel fabricator. I determined that the best method to communicate this information was to codify and diagram, in elevation and section, each custom piece and connection.

In the final design, the volume of the house—composed of three elements: a center volume with public functions that hyphenates two flanking volumes serving more private spaces—was used to reinforce the Man-Made and Nature concept. The two flanking volumes became the Man-Made portion and were completely resurfaced with new fiber-cement panels and aluminum trim configured in a modular and abstract pattern. By eliminating the solid walls and inserting floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows, the center hyphen became a non-volume, Nature, and opens up the primary living space to engage the outdoors. A freestanding “tree-like” steel canopy and an interior glass and steel stair rail repeat the language of the deck structure at the front of the house. The client's satisfaction and the recent publication of the project in the Fall 2012 edition of the Washington DC magazine, "Home & Design", proves that, when given the opportunity, young architects have a great deal to contribute to custom residential design.

-Submitted by Marcy Giannunzio, AIA, LEED AP of WNUK SPURLOCK Architecture (WSA). [Note: I have been working with WSA since September 2005. In, 2008 I completed my IDP hours, passed my ARE’s, and became licensed in February of 2009. Since becoming licensed I have continually contributed to the custom residential projects at WSA.]

Submitted Photographs by: Steven Paul Whitsitt

Additional Project credits upon request.


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