The owners of this property searched for two years to find a south facing waterfront lot in the Annapolis area that would become their weekend retreat. When their search ended, their next step was to demolish the existing one-story house and retain an architect who would collaborate with them on a new contemporary house. This was the beginning of a multi-year collaboration between the Owners and their Architect.
Jason Winters of Kezlo Architects, LLC, analyzed the site from the primary view from the road, site access and approach, topography, sun path, existing mature trees, existing pier, setbacks including the 100 foot buffer, existing septic and primary views of the site to and from the water. The design process continued as the site potential, the Owners’ building program and the resultant architectural concept began to evolve from initial bubble diagrams with the main level’s front entry, kitchen, powder room and stairs on the north side and the gathering space, dining area and atrium facing south to the water.
As the design was developed further in section and layering of the plan, the three-dimensional form began to resemble a skewed parallelogram with both rounded and pointed corners. Exterior spaces emerged- the main level curved wrap-around terrace covered by the second floor master suite terrace and the third floor terraces-one on the NW side overlooking the pastoral meadow and the rear waterside terrace. An opening in the roof provides not only sunlight that casts playful shadows onto the meadow terrace but also access to the roof for maintenance.
On the sunny day I visited, I drove past a weathered split-rail fence in front of a deep meadow and its sharp juxtaposition with the sculptural form beyond of the white three-story house glistening in the sun against the backdrop of the water was striking. The front door is recessed into the house to provide cover and the aluminum framed glass door provides a clear vista through the full height wall of windows in the gathering space to the water beyond. To the right of the foyer is an alcove with a coat closet on one side and a powder room on the other. Between these spaces is a wall opening into the kitchen with a vista through the kitchen’s aluminum and glass door to the terrace and meadow beyond. The wall opening is also a clever shortcut to drop off groceries without walking around to the kitchen.
Stairs are my favorite architectural element and this superb design is a work of art. The stair location was deliberately located at the front corner of the house so one has to first move through the gathering space to discover it. As you move upward, your focus is the spiraling curvature of the stair and its stunning detailing of white oak treads, stainless steel horizontal railing with intermediate supports and steel risers with discreet lights between the riser connections for a dramatic effect at night. At the second level, one can pause at the balcony overlook to the three-story atrium of windows inserted into the stucco exterior or proceed upward to the third floor balcony and open loft for another overlook to the atrium. Next to the loft is a guest bedroom/study with a door to the meadow side terrace. If I were a guest, I would claim the third floor guest room for the sheer pleasure of climbing the stairs.
The main floor gathering space with its rear wall of glass frames the landscape and water beyond and flows into the three-story atrium corner point that is the perfect space for a collection of thriving succulents. The center of the gathering space has a box-bay bump-out that supports the second floor waterside terrace. The dining area and the kitchen complete the open plan with the light oak flooring on a slight diagonal to link the spaces together.
As a cook, I could not resist lingering in the kitchen and first admired its interior architecture of picture/operable window over the sink and the two aluminum frame and glass doors with transoms to the ceiling between a cantilevered wall of base cabinets that creates a bar/serving area. The color palette of white base and upper cabinets, a second row of upper cabinets framed in aluminum with translucent glass, sleek hardware, thin-profile dark countertops and the large island with three contemporary barstools was serene and elegant. From the kitchen side of the wall opening in the foyer one sees a glimpse of the stair beyond.
The Architect added a bulkhead with recessed lights in the kitchen but instead of a typical boxed profile, these bulkheads become design elements with their tapered ends that disappear into the ceiling plane of the dining-gathering area. For the ambient lighting in the dining-gathering space, the clever detail of recessed narrow troughs recessed into the ceiling plane with rows of tiny lights along each long wall of the troughs softly illuminates the dining-gathering space. The effect at night must be simply magical. The owner were in sync with their Architect and found a pendant free-form light fixture to hang above the kitchen island with the same tiny lights.
The master suite’s bedroom has a rear wall of floor to ceiling windows supported by a beam above and an aluminum and glass door to the waterside terrace. The master bath’s shower has two glass walls against the background of the rear arched wall of blue tile. The shower side glass wall stops above the tiled seat but the seat continues to create a space for drying off. The wall-mounted lavatory cabinet is suspended above the floor and the thick slab lavatory with its contoured basins is suspended above the top of the lavatory cabinet. The design of the black cabinet sliding doors against the blue wall, tall vertical mirrors and vertical tubular light fixtures is spare and elegant.
The roof plan shows the dichotomy of the compact yet very complex building’s form. The roof planes are carefully sloped to a central drain for removal of storm water. When I saw the roof plan, it reminded me of a waterfowl’s head with the roof opening as the “eye” and the “beak” over the atrium that juts out toward the water like the prow of a ship. The building’s kinetic form, smooth white walls, intricate layering of the terraces, spiraling stair and the soaring atrium combine to create this contemporary masterpiece of site, architecture, interior architecture and the owners’ creative interior design.
Gilbert K. Chesterton once remarked “ All architecture is great after sunset; perhaps architecture is really a nocturnal art, like the art of fireworks.” After seeing the twilight photograph of this house, I would certainly agree-Bravo!
Architecture by The Kezlo Group LLC of Annapolis, Principal Jason Winters, AIA, LEED BD +C, 844-495-3956 x 701, www.kezlo.com Contractor: Lundberg Builders, Inc., (410) 643-3334, www.lundbergbuilders.com Aerial photography by Aerial Productions Services, Inc. Exterior and Interior Photography by Curtis Martin Photo, Inc.
Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.
Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.