Lorber Tarler Residence by Robert Gurney Architect

Lorber Tarler Residence by Robert Gurney Architect

Architects: Robert Gurney Architect
Location: Washington DC, USA
Photo courtesy: Paul Warchol Photography

Located in the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood of Washington DC, an existing row house has been reimagined as a modern, light filled urban dwelling for a professional couple. The compartmentalized interior of the existing house was gutted, and the rear façade and porch were removed. 


Surrounded by buildings on three sides and limited to the existing seventeen foot wide by thirty foot deep footprint, the new floor layout and open plan are intended to provide dynamic interior spaces in sharp contrast to the originally dark, cramped house. lorber-tarler-02

Manipulation of natural light into this residence is a major component affecting the design of the project. A new stair and glass bridge system connects all three floors, with a skylight the entire length and width of the new stair opening above. The new rear façade is almost fully glazed, maximizing the amount of light obtainable from the east exposure. On the interior, translucent panels between rooms further offer sources for natural light. lorber-tarler-03The stairwell is designed as a vertical core that organizes the project. While the open riser staircases with glass rails and bridges provide transparency, a three story, wood paneled wall slices through the stairwell, integrating and defining adjacent spaces. This wall terminates inside the skylight well, allowing light from the skylight to the third floor bedroom.


 A ground level terrace visually enlarges the living room and offers a private outdoor living space within the city. The terrace become an outdoor room with walls of glass, cement board and mahogany. A galvanized steel planter with bamboo and black river stone runs the length of the terrace, offering an opportunity for greenery in the urban setting.


This project relies on the verticality of the row house typology to provide spacious volume, as opposed to large floor area. The spatial qualities of this project are further enhanced by highly considered, well crafted materials and close attention to detail. lorber-tarler-06

A palette consisting of blue Venetian plaster, white terrazzo flooring, clear and dark stained rift-sawn white oak, aluminum, stainless steel, clear and translucent glass, painted steel, limestone and granite are forged to enrich the spaces.


This house was built near the turn of the century and is located in a historical district. The end result of this renovation represents the co-existence of a modern vocabulary adapted to current living patterns within an existing historically significant framework.

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