If you like skylights and asymmetrical, contemporary design, you'd like the house Joseph Boggs designed for his parents in Richmond.
Secluded among an acre of tall trees, the three-year-old, two-level home has already won an accolade from Architectural Record. The magazine observed that, because of "artful siting and a careful use of materials," the house did not "overwhelm its wooded site."
The house also won an award from the Virginia chapter of the American Institute of Architects and, most recently, a Builder's Choice Design award from the National Association of Home Builders.
More importantly, Beryl and Helen Boggs like their striking and efficient empty-nester home.
"My father likes anything that's different," said his architect son, who doodled around for two years before producing the working drawings. Beryl, an engineer with Allied Chemical, built the 4,600-square-foot house for less than $90,000. In his spare time, he does private contracting work on custom homes.
"My mother likes the house too, but not without some reservations," Joe said. "Her taste is more classical. She has had trouble decorating the main rooms, which are integrated to flow from one to another."
Boggs said he designed the house so that there is a subtle inflow of light through the curved, plexiglass windows, which are tinted gray but appear black from the outside.
The rooms "borrow space from each other," he said. All the ceilings on the second floor are 10 feet high and some of the interior walls are covered with cypress siding, similar to that used on the exterior. An eight-foot-wide stairway leading to the second floor is white oak, as are the floors in the main rooms.
Boggs said that the entire plan, section and elevation were set out on a four-foot-square grid pattern for proportional and dimensional control. The house was sited on a southwest-northwest axis to allow the morning sun to "penetrate deeply into the bedroom-kitchen area while the noon sun is directly over the living-room area that is not used at that time of day," he said.
While most of the living area is on the second level, the carport, workshop, two guest rooms, utility room and a recreation room are on the lower level.
Concrete block, wood and insulating glass were used in the house. Other features included built-up roofing, double-layer sheetrock interior walls, insulating skylights, 30-inch batt insulation and aluminum insulating sliding doors and windows. The electric-energy house has a heat pump system with humidification. All roof drainage is interior. Pipes are cast iron or copper.
"A two-year observation of the use of electricity indicated that the cost averages $90 a month," Boggs said. "Solar was not utilized because it was not proved more economical than the chosen system for the temperate, middle Virginia climate. The exterior is also effectively maintenance-free."
Joe Boggs, his wife and their young daughter live in Annapolis, where he also has his studio. He works for the engineering-architectural firm of Dewberry, Nealon and Davis.
"This is the place where we can work on concepts for the firm," said Boggs as he spread out plans for a large marina-restaurant-hotel complex on Kent Island. Designs for a church, a new house and a house renovation were also visible.
Boggs, who also received an award fro a sports car showroom in Brighton, Mass., from Progressive Architecture magazine, studied architecture at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and studied design at Harvard. He previously worked for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in Chicago and for Hartman-Cox and Frank Schlesinger here. He also was briefly associated with the Architects Group Practice in Alexandria.