Articles / Renovation

Modernising a 1960s solarium home

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In addition to overhauling the solarium, the architects behind this project added new cladding, insulation and interior finishes

The home lights up at night


Architect: Gardner Architects LLC
Structural engineer: Robert Silman Associates PLLS
General contractor: Berliner Construction

About the project (text supplied): This house, originally built in 1929 in Northwest Washington DC, was modified with 1969-era “solarium” additions. The 1969 additions, though deteriorated and always too-hot or too-cold due to poor original construction, nonetheless offered wonderful day-lit spaces and made strong connections between the house and the site, perched above Rock Creek Park.

The owners sought to embark on a thorough-going renovation and rehabilitation of the 1969 portions of the house. Their goals included energy-conserving improvements focused on passive strategies for daylighting and ventilation, and updating the character and identity of the spaces while preserving their value and appeal.

The project includes new cladding, insulation and interior finishes, and mechanical system improvements featuring radiant floors. Doors, windows and skylights were replaced with high-performance glazing and translucent wall and skylight systems. The shape of the spaces allowed the design strategy to feature natural cross ventilation, drawing air in low and exhausting high through the eleven new skylights.


The orientation of the additions is north/south, allowing a special opportunity to design the door, window, skylight and translucent wall systems to reflect light throughout the lower and upper reaches of the space, with minimal reliance on light fixtures for daytime lighting.

First published date: 01 February 2018

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