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Mohican Hills House

Robert M. Gurney, FAIA Architect

Shared By

August King

Project Name

Mohican Hills House

Project Status



  • General Contractor: Steve McCaughan, Commonwealth Building and Design
  • Landscape Architect: Campion Hruby Landscape Architects
  • Structural Engineer: D. Anthony Beale


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Project Description


Mohican Hills is a small community in Glen Echo, Maryland within very close proximity to Washington, DC. This community boasts an unusually high percentage of contemporary and mid-century modern houses relative to most Washington, DC suburban neighborhoods. This community is adjacent to the Potomac River. Many of the lots have a steep sloping topography and share River views. This new house, in Mohican Hills is located on one such lot. The house is positioned along the ridge of the sloping site and oriented toward distant river views. A linear composition of spaces arranged along the ridge and open to an existing clearing provides a large lawn with minimal site intrusion and preserves the vast majority of mature trees. The house is organized around a two-story living space with an open floor plan that integrates a high-ceilinged volume with intimate spaces adjacent to the double height space. A small office on the first floor is separated from the living spaces and is convertible to a fifth bedroom. A three story entry volume separates the master bedroom area from the subsidiary bedrooms. Expanses of glass provide views into the wooded landscape toward the distant river and animate the house with light. A combination intersecting spaces insure light penetration all times of day and all times of the year. This house employs a concrete slab throughout the main floor which provides passive solar energy assistance. The concrete is stained dark with the goal of increasing the potential solar gain and storage. Expanses of Energy Star glass provide an abundance of daylighting while solar sensitive shades mediate heat gain. Energy efficient appliances, high efficiency HVAC Equipment, wall and ceiling infrastructure with maximum insulation and a ventilated building envelope are employed with the expectation of reducing fossil fuel consumption. Large operable windows and doors are located to provide natural ventilation and direct access to the outdoors. Thermally modified wood siding is employed as an alternative to exotic or expensive hardwoods. The wood is forest managed and treated, non-toxic and durable.

Jury Comments:
The design integrity of this house can be best observed in the refinement of the carefully placed volumes of domestic activity, offset with solid and voids that open and collapse these interior and exterior visual experiences to optimize this wonderful site. This project is finely composed, crafted, and well-executed.
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