Walker Road

Walker Road

Whipple Russell Architects
Great Falls, Virginia, USA | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
William MacCollum

Walker Road

Whipple Russell Architects as Architects

The three-story house sits on five acres atop a small hill at the end of a winding drive in the Great Falls area of Virginia, a suburb of Washington D.C. The clients were familiar with Marc’s West Coast work and wanted his talent for framing vistas brought to their view of treetops and distant valleys. They also wanted an economical, modern house of a certain size, and left Marc to design a floor plan that was simple, beautiful, and livable.The area features mainly traditional homes, but the site being so large, with no close neighbors, the clients felt freeto build a fully modern home with lots of glass, through which to enjoy the spectacular sights of the changingseasons.


Steps were taken to provide for the harsh climate - hot and humid in summer, lots of rain and snow in winter. Dualpane high efficiency glass by Western Window Systems was used throughout, and a geo-thermal heating and cooling system installed. Due to the cold, frost line foundations were deeper and all structural systems were strengthened to accommodate a snow load on the roof. The exterior materials are white plaster and horizontal stacked stone and what looks like wood on the exterior is actually porcelain tile, chosen for its warm look and practicality, as it will better withstand harsh weather.


Glass screens surround the second-floor terrace in place of guardrails adding a floating quality to the design. This is an unusual construction element in the East, as special consideration must be made for contraction in cold weather. The 6,700 sq. ft., 4 bedroom, 4 bath house is organized around a central volume filled by the solid walnut staircase which goes from the main floor up to the master suite, and down to the two teenager’s bedrooms on the lower level. Due to the sloping grade, the house is entered from the street side onto the main level, but exited on the lower level at the back of the house onto the patio and pool area - what is called a “walk-out” basement.


There is also a guest bedroom on the main level at the back of the house and a home office tucked away in a quiet spot next to the garage.


The interiors and surfaces embrace crisp edges and natural tones complementing the house’s modernist lines. Large format (48x48) dark grey concrete-finish porcelain tile is seen throughout the main living area and terrace The kitchen and breakfast bar area features Poliform cabinets of lacquer and wood veneer, white Caesarstone countertops, and appliances by Miele. Between the dining room and the library/lounge there is a sleek peninsula holding a fireplace by Ecosmart that is fueled by ethanol.


The Master Suite occupies the top floor, quieted with neutral carpeting and warmed with accent walls in walnut. The downstairs dark porcelain tile is repeated in the double master bath and dressing area where porcelain fixtures are from Badeloft and Blu Bathworks provided the faucet fixtures. The overall design is a modernist play of thin horizontals and sturdy verticals alternated with glass, perfectly balanced over the sloping terrain. The effect is at once eye-catchingly bold and harmonious with the surrounding landscape.

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