Architect David Jameson brings a client’s vision to life in a bold, modern residence in The Plains, Virginia, overlooking the Blue Ridge
In a verdant patch of Fauquier County, life gallops along at the speed of a polo pony. So it seems incongruous that the clock would all but stop at a contemporary fortress on a mountainside in The Plains. Designed by architect David Jameson for a tech entrepreneur, this house hews to geological time. Locally quarried Carderock stone stacked in walls 11 feet high traces its origin to the collision of continents 200 million years ago that formed the Piedmont’s ridges and valleys, creating the very slope on which the house stands.
To be sure, the structure exudes contemporary glamour, from the shimmering glass and sleek mahogany siding to a 105-foot-long lap pool flowing toward a view of the Blue Ridge. In fact, the expanse of glass and pool were inspired by the owner’s childhood memory of a dream house sketched by his father but never built. The son’s 11,980-square-foot residence carries that vision forward, while the architect has anchored the dwelling to the ages.
“Earth, sky and water,” quips Jameson from his Bethesda office, delighted to have achieved the old-is-new dichotomy of an “authentic modern house.”
The site boasts acres of woodland overlooking a polo field. Jameson, who trained under the modernist Hugh Newell Jacobsen, has arranged four long, glass boxes or volumes pinwheel-style around a 1,600-square-foot atrium, which rises 25 feet to a clerestory, hiding mechanicals in its structure. Stone walls form a framework of corridors. An upper level is glassy, angular and intentionally askew. Exterior stone and glass read through to the interior, creating a seamless stage set.
“Stone walls protect and cradle the intimate human spaces,” Jameson says. “The glazed walls you live in really act as lenses to the landscape. It’s a large house, yet each space, the way it’s situated, has a very intimate feel.”
The largest volume, at 26 by 72 feet, looks out onto the lap pool and polo field below. A formal sitting area furnished with a contemporary Italian sofa is set off from a 33-foot-long kitchen-dining space. A relaxed gathering corner filled with mid-century Scandinavian classics brings up the far end. A custom divider of stainless-steel bars incorporates a fireplace and large-screen TV.
The 21-by-72-foot bedroom suite shared by the owner and his wife, an attorney, includes a lounge with a fireplace. A third volume holds three 16-foot-square guest rooms. The fourth volume contains a garage, powder room and laundry.
The architect-designed interiors are spare and unified. Sapele mahogany lines corridors and frames the perfectly aligned windows and motorized sliding glass doors. Floor-to-ceiling walnut paneling disguises kitchen fixtures as well as the owners’ walk-in closet. Matte-bronze automotive paint was hand-rubbed onto the kitchen island and lends mystery to partition walls in the owners’ suite.
Underfoot, corridors of honed bluestone lead to expanses of sturdy, end-cut blocks of Douglas fir. “Because these volumes are long and thin, I did not want to accentuate with linear flooring,” Jameson explains. “The bleached blocks give the calming sense of a tatami mat. It’s very quiet, minimal, non-directional flooring.”
Concrete flooring upstairs is finished in cruise-ship decking epoxy. Both levels are warmed by geothermal wells, one of the home’s many sustainable features that, along with green roofs, suggest a longer-term perspective. “The cost of building is one thing, the cost of maintaining is another,” Jameson points out. “If you can build with sustainable components, that extends the life of the house. What do you have to do to those stone walls after 100 years? Not a lot.”
At home during the pandemic, the owner reflected on the architecture from a sofa beneath the 30-foot-square clerestory. “This house has a great vibe,” he says. “It’s a center of gravity, a serene place to land when you come home. That makes a huge difference in quality of life.”
As for those walls, they are highly technical—as befits a client in the software business. Stones were cut to three precise heights, then stacked in a fixed pattern decreed by Jameson. “Literally every single wall, every single course is perfectly level, a mirror image,” says Eddie Serra of Serra Stone, who managed the masonry. Every nine courses or so, the sequence repeats.
The cadence is so subtle that the owner likens it to “code with a hidden pattern.”
In the end, a house is a vehicle for living. “I love that this house is clearly designed,” the architect reflects, “but not precious.”
Architecture: David Jameson, FAIA, David Jameson Architect, Inc., Bethesda, Maryland. Contractor: PureForm Builders, Washington, DC. Landscape Contractor: Evergro, Glenn Dale, Maryland. Home Automation: Casaplex, Kensington, Maryland.
Stone walls: Eddie Serra, serrastone.com. Stone Floors & Countertops: Rob Redden, Boatman & Magnani; 301-336-7700. Windows & Doors: David Tausendfreund, tradewoodiindustries.com. Metalwork: Moe Owens, Triton Metals; 301-632-6419. Wood Flooring: Russ Sterner, mastercarefloors.com. Specialty Glass: John Flouhouse, dullesglass.com.
Chaises/Source: roshults.com through studiotwentyseven.com. Pool: Don Gwiz; lewis-aquatech.com.
Vernor Panton Cloverleaf Sofa: furniturefromscandinavia.com.
Poul Kjærholm PK9 dining chairs, PK80 daybed & PK54 Marble-Topped Table, Finn Juhl Pelican Shearling Chairs, Baker Sofa & FJ Walnut Low Table: furniturefromscandinavia.com.
FORMAL SITTING AREA
Sofa: Antonio Citterio Charles Sofa: bebitalia.com. Hans Wegner Hans Wegner Ox Chair & Poul Kjærholm PK61 Marble-Topped Coffee Table: marblesystems.com.
Mater Bar Stools: furniturefromscandinavia.com. Kitchen Cabinetry: Julia Walter, boffi.com. Countertops: marblesystems.com. Dining Table: Fritz Hansen Essay Table & Mater Dining Chairs: furniturefromscandinavia.com.
Flooring: bolidt.com through Walt Honer, fusionvisionfloors.com. Arne Jacobsen Egg chairs: furniturefromscandinavia.com.
Nanna Ditzel Oda chair: furniturefromscandinavia.com. Fireplace: sparkfires.com.