ARCHITECTUREFIRM’s Three Hills House is a Meditation on Simplicity in Cedar

Three Hills House occupies the middle hilltop of the eponymous triad, positioned squarely in a glade’s clearing. The approach to the 5,000 square-foot Fredericksburg by car circumnavigates the hill until it sharply turns into the entry path that takes us directly to the heart of the home, in a procession reminiscent of Aline Barnsdall’s 1922 Hollyhock House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Three Hills, designed by Richmond- and Brooklyn-based ARCHITECTUREFIRM, is subtler than Hollyhock, however, in its nod to the Mayan Revival of a century ago. There are no abstracted flowers in high relief, no images of the rain god Chac seen at Uxmal, and no stone serpents — just an unadorned frieze that makes the home appear a little grander than the term “one story” suggests.

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Reader & Swartz’s Crooked Bow Tie is Dressed Up Down Home

photograph of the exterior of Reader & Swartz's award winning Crooked Bow Tie House
“You have to know when to shout and know when to be quiet with your design, because there’s always a context to respond to,” says Chuck Swartz, FAIA. Photography: Nathan Webb, AIA, Reader & Swartz Architects, P.C.

Bow ties are still worn today, but not as popularly as they were two generations ago. For architects, bow ties have always been sartorial and functional — the less fabric dangling over your mayline, the better. Beyond fashion (and architecture), bow ties can signal class, disposition, vocation, and political allegiance. Bill Nye and Tucker Carlson are both passionate devotees, as were Karl Marx and Groucho Marx. Wearers spark uncommonly strong reactions by non-wearers, from endearment to hostility. One New York Times correspondent called the bow tie a “red flag that comes in many colors,” while one Virginian-Pilot correspondent concluded that, “bow tie wearers are not like the rest of us.”  Pre-tied and self-tied divide wearers, as do different styles such as the butterfly, the batwing, and the diamond point.

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Virginia Tech’s Opening Gambit for the NoVa Tech Scene by SmithGroup is a Window to the Future

Person talking on mobile phone in a colorful hallway at SmithGroup’s Start-Up Space for Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Innovation Campus
SmithGroup’s Start-Up Space for Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Innovation Campus offers the school an administrative presence in a rapidly changing tech scene (not to mention a place to manage the broader four-acre campus project). © Judy Davis

The word innovation isn’t just a rejoinder to the debate in education about value these days. It seems to also suggest a new typology of flexible and adaptive spaces. Virginia Tech is currently developing a four-acre Northern Virginia Innovation Campus in Alexandria, which will open in 2024 with a 300,000 square-foot Innovation Center Academic Building (ICAB) designed by SmithGroup. Its principal-in-charge, David Johnson, AIA, says that the emerging typology is less about form and more about accommodating the changing needs of an array of user groups. “The intellectual framework for the innovation center is about accelerating ideation and discovery by bringing together competing and interdisciplinary interests,” says Johnson, “but to be more precise, most, if not all, of our design goals were related to human centered design.”

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Through a Prism, Brightly: Baskervill’s Glass Light Hotel & Gallery

pink glass rabbit in a hotel lobby
Clients Doug and Pat Perry commissioned Peter Bremers to create leporine versions of themselves, whose parts were made in the Czech Republic and glued together in situ. Image courtesy of Baskervill.

Hotel lobby art — when it’s bad, it can be good (in that bad sort of way). But, when it’s great, it’s transcendent, which should be a goal of any hotel. The Glass Light Hotel and Gallery in Norfolk falls into the latter category, so named for the collection of Doug and Pat Perry, local arts patrons who purchased a 1912 office building that Baskervill transformed into a glass menagerie, now operated by Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

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Shannon Wray: Creating the Perfect Workplace Hybrid

Designer Shannon Wray in foreground with bookshelves in the background
Shannon Wray led the design of the custom workstations at Fairfield Library that adapt the carrel type for working parents and caregivers. The project won a 2020 IIDA/ASID IDEA Interior Design Excellence Award.

Opened in 2019, Quinn Evans’ Fairfield Library project featured a custom workstation that updates the classic library carrel to incorporate self-directed learning for children and peace of mind for caregivers. In this interview, Shannon Wray, a senior interior designer at Quinn Evans, talks about the discovery process and the iterations that led to a 2020 IIDA/ASID IDEA Interior Design Excellence Award for the hybrid workstation and play space. “It creates privacy and it also fosters community and conviviality,” she says, “but to get there, we had a bunch of little ‘ah-ha’ moments that lead to the final design.”

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The Essex: Via’s Home

A case study by Jacqueline Childress, Associate IIDA, LEED® Green Associate, Andrew McKinley, AIA, LEED AP®, and Haley Morgan

Historic Photo of the Essex Building at theCorner of Bank and Plume Corner of Bank + Plume at Dusk
The Essex. Image courtesy of Via.

Architecture is a design process focused on creating spaces for people. The building itself, formed of solid materials like steel and masonry, forms a shelter for people to occupy. But the interiors are what connect to human emotions, create a sense of place, and establish the identity for the building’s functions.

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SAARC Art: Integration of Art in a Public Building

by Eliel Alfon, AIA | Design Principal, Hughes Group Architects

Throughout history, architecture and art have been an integrated process. They have always been a communication tool for most civilized cultures. In a way, this allowed a building or structure to have deeper meaning beyond its intended function and purpose. Public art is cultural expression.  Introduction of art in a public setting not only enriches the quality of the space, but it can reflect the soul of the community. 

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