A Mid Block Courtyard House

A Mid Block Courtyard House

Muse Architects
Bethesda, Maryland, USA | View Map
Private Houses
© Maxwell MacKenzie

A Mid Block Courtyard House

Muse Architects as Architects


This project is a new home in an established suburban neighborhood for an artist and an economics professor whose primary home is in Chicago.  The purpose for this home is to allow them to be close to their daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren, who also live in Bethesda.  After retirement, the couple plans to make this their primary home.


Interior programmatic requirements centered on a living/dining room, a kitchen/family room, a ground floor master bedroom, a studio for the artist, an office for the professor and three other bedrooms.  Exterior requirements centered on gardens, terraces and a swimming pool – all designed to allow privacy from the neighboring residences.



The site plan was developed as a main body spanning east to west, its front façade facing a residential street and forming a parking court.  The fieldstone and stained siding are in keeping with the materiality of neighboring structures, but is translated to a contemporary application.  Two single story rear wings reduce the scale of the house and create a private courtyard with gardens and the swimming pool. Designed with primarily solid walls adjacent to the neighboring properties, the house opens itself with glass walls to the courtyard. 


The main formal feature of the residence is the hip-roofed pavilion.  The repetition of this form helps to reduce the scale of the structure while recalling the owners’ Chicago heritage.  The deep overhangs (assisted by trellises and pocketed roller shades) also provide solar protection for all interior spaces.  Designed as rooms with exposure on at least two exterior walls, cross ventilation also minimizes the use of cooling in the summer.


Exterior materials of local fieldstone, stained siding and wall shingles, and an acrylume roof minimize the need for maintenance.  A high efficiency HVAC system, open and closed cell foam insulation, and energy efficient windows and doors are also employed.

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