Blue Ridge Farmhouse Addition / Robert Gurney Architect

© Paul Warchol Photography

Standing prominently on a hilltop just outside , Virginia, the eighteenth century farmhouse is surrounded by five hundred acres of farmland providing vantage point views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The owners desired an addition to their beloved farmhouse that would bring the outside in and enable them to share the landscape and its changing seasons with friends and family. In addition to entertaining, the owners, who enjoy gardening and horseback riding, required an area to clean up after days spent outdoors. It was also their experience of entry and threshold, both in the daily utilitarian sense and in a more occasional formal sense, which needed to be clarified.

Architects: Robert Gurney Architect
Location: Washington, Virginia,
Project Architect: Hito Martinez
Engineer: D. Anthony Beale
Interior Designer: Ed Perlman
General Contractor: M.T. Puskar Construction Co., Inc.
Photographers: Paul Warchol Photography, Ken Gutmaker Architectural Photography

© Paul Warchol Photography

The solution becomes a purposeful annexing of different elements that respect the existing architecture while avoiding a revivalist or seamless approach. The junctures between old and new have been carefully articulated, giving each part of the addition its own distinctive identity. Entertaining, living, and dining occur in a pavilion enclosed in glass, structured with steel, and focused on a hearth created with stone from the surrounding site. A strong horizontality is developed by setting the finished floor flush with grade, encircling the space with a continuous steel beam and floating the roof above a glass clerestory. The horizontal transparency of this pavilion is juxtaposed against the vertical solidity of the white clapboard pavilion which houses a mudroom and bathroom. Being within each pavilion becomes an experience of contrast: solid versus void.


The circulation spine that binds these two distinct pavilions is marked by moments of connection to the farmhouse and extension into the landscape. A bluestone path forms a continuous axis of entry from the driveway through glass entrance doors. It continues without interruption between the two pavilions and ends at a new stair, into the existing house. Within the spine, materials are used contextually. The stair that marks the entrance into the farmhouse is made from original heart pine. Large expanses of glass provide natural light and views of the garden into the updated kitchen. The continuity of the bluestone blurs the boundary of inside and out while the texture of concrete formed from the wood of an old barn speaks to the continuity of time and place.

© Paul Warchol Photography

The careful juxtaposition of the traditional rural architecture and the new modern pavilions is intended to allow the original farmhouse to remain prominent in the greater composition and serve as a point of reference for the continuing evolution of the site.

Cite: "Blue Ridge Farmhouse Addition / Robert Gurney Architect" 05 Feb 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
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