cunningham + quill architects, washington, d.c.

The success of Ralph Cunningham and Lee Quill's first multifamily project has nothing to do with beginner's luck. "It was a true collaboration," says Quill, "we poured our hearts and souls into it." They carefully studied D.C.-area apartment buildings, especially the old dignitaries lining Connecticut Avenue near the site for this condo project. It didn't hurt that Cunningham lives right around the corner and knew the neighborhood well. The support of a developer who was willing to take a chance on a young firm encouraged the design team to push the location's paradigm of stately brick row houses and embassies. "The idea was to pick up the height and scale of adjacent buildings with matching masonry bookends, and then insert this modern glass-and-steel mass in between," explains Quill. "Zoning allowed us to go higher, so we created this light, airy sort of glass lantern that floats on top."

The architects not only produced an alluring design within 80-foot-wide-by-90-foot-tall constraints, but respect was thoughtfully paid to the neighbors. For instance, a landscaped courtyard mirrors one belonging to a building on the south side. Cunningham and Quill firmly believe that even contemporary designs should maintain the high level of detailing found in historical buildings. They did so inside and out, albeit with distinctly 21st-century materials. The judges blessed this marriage of old and new, calling the project "clearly modern but ... quite at home in its surroundings."

project architect: Lee Quill and Ralph Cunningham, Cunningham + Quill Architects
developer/builder: PN Hoffman, Washington, D.C.
project size: 36,000 square feet
site size: 0.5 acres
construction cost: $110 per square foot
sales price: $250 to $350 per square foot
units in project: 29
photographer: Dan Cunningham