2021 RDAA | Custom Period or Vernacular Renovation | Renovation on Cox’s Row | Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect

This traditional row house in Georgetown was very spacious by urban standards, but access to its square footage was choppy. The clients, who are art collectors, tapped Bob Gurney to sort it all out while preserving the best of the original detailing. “I love those projects where there is something of the old and some of the new,” he says. 

His clients do, too, and welcomed his bold solution: remove the staircase at the rear of the house and add a new, sculptural stair at its center. Eliminating the back stair solved a number of floor plan problems; chief among them was improving the connection between the kitchen and dining room. Also on the chopping block was a little-used parlor between the dining room and the double living room that thwarted the flow between those key spaces. That parlor and another above it, adjacent to the office, were annexed for the new central stair. 

The steel-and-stained-oak stair is a striking art piece in its own right, somehow spanning centuries of style changes. “We wanted something that feels comfortable in classical and modern languages,” says Bob. “The raw steel has an almost bronze feel to it.” Indeed, it has an almost art moderne look to it. “And the fluted glass and custom steel door panels between the dining room and kitchen bridge traditional and modern.”

The stair is topped by a glass volume that brings light down through the core of the house, illuminating the new and improved connections between the major rooms of the house.

Custom Period or
Vernacular Renovation


Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect
Renovation on Cox’s Row

Project Credits

Architect: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, principal in charge; Kara McHone, project architect, Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect, Washington

Builder: Peterson & Collins, Inc., Washington

Interior Designer: Sybille Schneider,
LSS Interiors, New York

Landscape Architect: Campion Hruby Landscape Architecture, Annapolis, Maryland

Structural Engineer: United Structural Engineers, Inc., Sterling, Virginia

Project Size: 6,600 square feet

Site Size: .10 acre

Construction Cost: Withheld

Photography: Anice Hoachlander 

Key Products

Cabinetry: Boffi

Entry Doors/Windows: Hope’s Windows, Parrett

Faucets: Waterstone (kitchen), Kallista (baths)

Lighting: Liminii, Delta Light

Lighting Control: Lutron

Locksets: FSB

Paints: Benjamin Moore

Sinks: Julien (kitchen), Lacava (primary bath)

Toilets: Duravit

Tub: Boffi



Plans and Drawings


Before Plans

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