As a younger architect with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill within the 1960s, Ralph Youngren traveled from Chicago to see the brand new Dulles Worldwide Airport. “I had come to take a look at [architect] Eero Saarinen’s work on the airport after I heard about this,” he says.
“This” was the development of close to-by Reston, the place planner Robert Simon had commissioned distinguished modernist architects to design a sequence of townhouse “clusters.”
“Everybody was speaking about it,” says Youngren, who saved returning to Reston to admire its buildings till 2003, when he and his spouse, Ann, lastly purchased a townhouse there designed by Charles M. Goodman. Midcentury fashionable could also be all the craze lately, Youngren says, however on the time, “this type of structure was thought-about far out. They might hardly promote these, it was so superior.”
Goodman’s Hickory Cluster was designed within the Worldwide type, with flat roofs, Mondrian-like geometry, and partitions of glass. Reston’s different clusters signify a wide range of kinds that had been on the forefront of latest design within the ’60s. New York architects James Rossant and William Conklin designed Lake Anne’s central core within the Brutalist type, with condominiums over the retailers on Washington Plaza, townhouses extending from the plaza on one facet of the lake, and excessive-rise condos on the opposite. Simply up the lake, DC architect Chloethiel Woodard Smith designed the pastel-hued Waterview Cluster—a contemporary invocation of the colourful, multistory rowhouses that encompass the inlet in Portofino, Italy. Farther out, she designed Coleson Cluster, a sequence of flat-roofed townhouses with floor-to-ceiling home windows. Philadelphia architect Louis Sauer, in the meantime, created the angular, wooden-and-brick Golf Course Island townhouses amid the fairways of Hidden Creek Nation Membership.
Why townhouses within the suburbs? “Simon’s complete concept was to design the anti-Levittown,” says actual-property agent Michael Shapiro, whose Modern Capital weblog explores midcentury structure round Washington. Fairly than an identical homes stretching down lengthy streets, Simon envisioned greater-density pockets that might enable extra communal acreage devoted to nature. Of the midcentury properties obtainable immediately, Shapiro considers these in Reston to be hidden gems, in each type and affordability. Whereas Goodman homes in Alexandria’s Hollin Hills promote within the $800,000 vary, for example, his Hickory Cluster townhouses can go for lower than $400,000.
Robert Simon additionally commissioned public artwork in Reston, says his widow, Cheryl Terio-Simon: “The structure and public artwork had been designed as a complete and are a mirrored image of the significance Bob positioned on whimsy and enjoyable in on a regular basis life.”
Youngren has continued in that custom. He designed a bridge over a creek close to Hickory Cluster, whose rails echo the slatted-wooden screens on the cluster’s balconies and terraces. The neighborhood’s affiliation board voted to identify the bridge after him when it was accomplished final yr.
This text seems within the December 2017 problem of Washingtonian.