BOTH THESE two houses, one a Georgetown formal townhouse, the other a rather frivolous Chevy Chase Victorian suburban cottage, share a contemporary design secret: an entry hall made mostly of glass to bring the sun in with you as you come.
In one house, the entry hall is closed on the street side, so you don't know what you're getting into until you go through the solid double doors. In the other house, from the street, you see right through the glass-walled entry hall, and are surprised when you realize the walls are solid.
The two houses share another secret. In each case, the living room wing, with master bedroom above, is a mirror image, a double, a new reflection of the original old house (after it was cleaned up and stripped down). By duplicating the old section, architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen was able to give the houses a formality, an orderliness, and a geometric quality which follow his motto, "Contemporary houses should be polite to their elderly neighbors." Yet by using glass to link the two sections, both are brightened and made to feel young and new.
The Elliott house in Chevy Chase (this page) was honored as one of the Architectural Record 1977 houses of the year. The Lee house in Georgetown (opposite page) won Jacobsen one of the first of his current total of fifty-seven architectural awards. Read about other design elements of the Elliott house on page 35 and about the Lee house on page 46.