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Winthrop Faulkner Dies at 73; Architect

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 21, 2004; Page B07

Winthrop W. Faulkner, 73, an architect best known for houses he designed in the contemporary style in Cleveland Park and elsewhere, died of cancer Oct. 19 at his home in Northwest Washington.

He designed five residences at Ordway and 36th streets NW in Cleveland Park, three of them Faulkner family residences. He and his wife, interior designer Jeanne Faulkner, built them to suit varying family situations, from the time when their five children were younger until they left for college.


With his contemporary designs, Winthrop W. Faulkner "set a new standard for residential design in Washington," one architect said.

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Mr. Faulkner also was known for three detached townhouses -- one a Faulkner family residence -- that he designed in 1977 at Rosedale, a historic 10-acre parcel in Cleveland Park owned by Avery Coonley, his grandfather. Coonley had bought the circa-1793 Federal farmhouse on the property from descendants of its builder, Gen. Uriah Forrest, friend and host to George Washington. Each house, a three-story geometric cube, featured a bank of solar collectors set at a 60-degree angle in a mansard roof.

Davis Buckley, a nationally known design architect based in Washington, said Mr. Faulkner "set a new standard for residential design in Washington. It's an exemplary architecture. He was able to translate the historical paradigm into contemporary forms and to create and manipulate spaces that were very livable and inspiring."

Mr. Faulkner also designed a house for Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky, daughter of philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller, in Tarrytown, N.Y.; two major apartment renovations at the Watergate apartment complex; U.S. Embassy housing in Jakarta, Indonesia; and the renovation of the Richard England house in Washington, originally designed by Bauhaus master Walter Gropius.

Although Mr. Faulkner preferred designing private residences, he also designed an office building for Brewood Engravers on 20th Street; the Great Ape House and crocodile pavilion at the National Zoo; the renovation of the Federal Reserve Board building in Washington; an addition to Christ Episcopal Church in Kensington; and the Ekoji Buddhist Temple in Fairfax County.

Born in Bronxville, N.Y., Mr. Faulkner was an heir to an architectural legacy. His father, Waldron Faulkner, was a Washington architect whose work included the original campus of Madeira School, offices for the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Brookings Institution and numerous private residences.

Architecture historians know his mother, the former Elizabeth Coonley of Chicago, as the little girl in a famous 1908 photograph of one of Frank Lloyd Wright's best houses, the Coonley house in Riverside, Ill., commissioned by her father. In 1936, she and her husband built one of Washington's first modern houses, the family's Cleveland Park residence.

Mr. Faulkner was a graduate of the Landon School in Bethesda and Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. He received his degree in architecture from Yale University in 1959, after serving two years in the Army in counterintelligence.

His apprenticeship was with Keyes, Lethbridge & Condon of Washington, before he and his partner, Joseph Wilkes, opened the firm of Wilkes & Faulkner in 1961. The firm later became Wilkes, Faulkner, Jenkins & Bass.

Mr. Faulkner retired as an architect in 2001, from Winthrop Faulkner & Partners. He opened Architectural Furniture, specializing in contemporary custom-designed furniture.

He also was an award-winning practitioner of universal design, an approach to design that makes buildings and houses usable by both those who have physical disabilities and those who do not. He compared the reluctance of architects and designers to include universal design principles in their work to early attitudes toward historic preservation.

"Initially they resented that people were making rules, but over time they realized that these rules could be a positive thing," he told The Washington Post in 2000.

Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Jeanne Hawes Faulkner of Washington; five children, Edith Faulkner Graves of Bethesda, Elizabeth Faulkner Rico of Albany, Calif., Celia Faulkner St. Onge of Portland, Maine, David Faulkner of Mill Valley, Calif., and Andrew Faulkner of San Rafael, Calif.; a brother, Avery Faulkner of Middleburg, and a sister, Celia Faulkner Crawford of Washington; and eight grandchildren.


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