Hugh Panero and Mary Beth Durkin raised their children in a Tudor style Chevy Chase house that was full of memories for twenty years. Weekends were spent on the Eastern Shore in a traditional rambler on Maxmore Creek. When Hugh and Mary Beth became empty nesters, the weekend home became their permanent residence. The challenge was how to make an unremarkable rambler with small windows and little interaction with the landscape and the water as special as their former family home.
The rambler was 200 feet long so a horizontal expansion made no sense. The foundation was close to the water so extending the addition toward the water wasn’t permitted due to current Critical Area restrictions; furthermore, any addition would block views of the water from the other rooms. Hugh’s father had been an architect so Hugh appreciated the role an architect plays in design and construction. Hugh and Mary Beth retained Mark McInturff, FAIA, to transform the rambler with his signature Modernist approach.
The building program was simple. Both Hugh, the retired founder and CEO of XM Satellite Radio and his wife, Mary Beth Durkin, an award winning documentary filmmaker, producer and food journalist, required separate but equal offices with adjacent full baths. They also wished to update the function and finishes of the existing rooms and to open up the house to the water.
Mark quickly realized the only way to solve the building program was up-his ingenious solution was to remove the center of the roof containing the entry and living room and to add a new tower element with an open stairwell that soars to Hugh’s second floor office and to Mary Beth’s third floor office. The exploration upward continues through a door off the third floor stair landing that leads to an exterior “stairway to Heaven”- a rooftop deck with 360 degree bird’s eye views of Maxmore Creek. The interior stair is full of light from strategically placed windows including a clerestory at the top of the gambrel shaped roof. Moooi pendant lights float above at different mounting heights in suspended animation. The solid drywall railings criss-cross up the space to become a kinetic piece of sculpture, accentuated against the periwinkle blue side wall. Opposite the stair at the entry is a stack of closets that could later become an elevator shaft.
The existing living room was transformed by raising its ceiling to add perfectly proportioned transoms above each new floor to ceiling window. Now the landscape and water is a backdrop for this cozy gathering space with a wood burning fireplace flanked by built-ins. The floor to ceiling window treatment extends around the bay shaped dining area that is now a delightful space to linger over a meal. The kitchen was completely renovated with sleek contemporary cabinets, new countertops and glass tiled backsplash. At the corner of this wing is another sitting room for TV watching and its floor to ceiling windows expand the space to the outdoors. As we walked through the rooms I commented on how well their colorful art collection fit its new surroundings against the white walls. Hugh and Mary Beth explained they had sent Mark digital pictures and dimensions of their collection so they could work with him to carefully place each major piece.
On the other side of the tower is a guest suite and the master suite that had been reconfigured to create a walk-in closet and an enlarged master bath with porcelain tiled wood grain look walls, the shower’s non-skid pebble floor with its combination of white tile and colored glass tiled accent wall and the window with a floor mounted shade for seated or standing privacy.
The two identical offices are simply stunning and full of light. The entire width of the rear walls facing the water has a large picture window with doors on either side to access a balcony. Thin cable railings fade into the landscape beyond and are connected to structural supports that frame the cantilevered balconies like giant camera lenses.
After solving the floor plan, unifying existing and new with white oak flooring, white walls, new cedar shakes that will age gracefully over time were added on all the exterior walls were added that will age gracefully over time. My favorite detail was found on a wall in Hugh’s study. To demonstrate, he entered the bath and closed the door, which triggered the “On Air” light from the Sirius XM studio to be illuminated.
The landscape of “outdoor rooms” includes the pool area, designed by Jan Kirsh, the existing detached screened porch that is a delightful “summer house” with exposed wood framing and the Azek deck that is a base connecting these spaces to the house.
At twilight the house glows from within from the multiple windows and doors. It is no surprise that this house won a Citation of Merit Award from the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Bravo to the owners for their vision and to the design team!
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.
Architecture by McInturff Architects, 301-229-3705, www.mcinturffarchitects.com. Design Team: Mark McInturff FAIA, Christopher Boyd and Jeff McInturff. Pool Design by Jan Kirsh Landscape, 410-745-5252 (o),410-310-1198 (c) firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.jankirshstudio.com Construction by thinkmakebuild, (202) 798-5000, www.thinkmakebuild.com Photography by Mark McInturff and Julia Heine