Brookland House Before/After

Post by Catarina Ferreira, AIA

Last summer we completed the renovation of our Brookland House project, with J.Allen Smith Design/Build as the General Contractor. It was a complex project. The age of the house and the fact that it was balloon framed presented some challenges, but all is well that ends well.

We recently stopped by for a pre-shoot. A more comprehensive professional photo shoot will be done in the Spring once the landscaping phase is completed.

Here are some before/after shots illustrating the transformation that the house underwent


At the front of the house, windows, front door and siding were modified/replaced, the front porch was updated with cedar trim and wider steps.


At the rear of the house a new kitchen/family room and master suite were added, to replace a 1950's addition. The footprint of the house did not change, however, which simplified the permitting process.


A two foot wide unsafe stair was replaced with a centrally located stair that became the organizing element of the new house.  An existing long front hall and compartmentalized spaces were transformed to an open plan through the removal of several load-bearing walls which we replaced with new flush beams.

A retro kitchen was replaced with an efficient new kitchen opening onto the family room and new exterior deck (note the pantry under the stair landing).

See more photos of the finished house, renderings and construction photos HERE!



post by Catarina Ferreira, AIA

While visiting a job site this morning we stumbled upon a nearby vacant building. Inside we found a cathedral of sorts: an almost empty shell, most of the floor framing removed, and the unique opportunity to experience a row house as a single volume with light piercing from various directions. The building will likely be converted to cookie cutter condominiums and the sublime nature of its current condition erased forever.

While we certainly have nothing against renovations, we wish there were more opportunities for maintaining some of the inherent beauty of these empty shells.


Here at archi-TEXTUAL we are grateful to have five house renovation projects under construction! We stopped by each one today to take a look at their various stages of completion.

Project 1: Brookland DC

full gut renovation + rear addition

Project 2: Petworth Rowhouse

full gut renovation + new basement apartment

Project 3: Takoma Park Bungalow

full gut renovation, construction by owner

Project 4: Petworth Townhouse

full gut renovation + new basement apartment

Project 5: Petworth Semi-Detached

full gut renovation + carriage house addition

In addition to these five, we have two more projects entering demolition phase, and will soon be under construction!


post by Catarina Ferreira, AIA

Site clearing work has started at our Annapolis Renovation project. Four months into the design process, we are preparing to issue the project for construction permit approval!
The efficiency of the design process in this project is due in part to our use of BIM software, our amazingly decisive clients, and an integrated project delivery method.

In the majority of our projects the contractor (and pertinent consultants) join the project team early on in the process. Instead of until bid documents are ready to obtain pricing, we often recommend to our clients that they start interviewing contractors during the schematic design phase, we issue preliminary budget development drawings sometime during design development, and by the time we issue the drawings for permit a contractor is already under contract, the budget for construction has been validated, and the path to a successful partnership has been cleared. Major design issues are discussed with the contractor early on, he provides feedback regarding the relative cost of the various options, we move forward efficiently with that validation.
In the interest of time, we also separate the project into two main design phases: main building architecture, and finish/fixture selections. Often finish and fixture selections are finalized after the permit has been issued, as they are not pertinent to the permitting process and can take a significant amount of time to finalize. The same applies to custom elements and cabinet selections.

The key to making this work is to design at all scales simultaneous, keeping in mind what we may want the finished project to look like in the end all along so we can ‘plan’ accordingly, but allowing the fine details to be worked out after the complexities of the building have been addressed. Often the construction contract includes allowances for the finishes and fixtures, which are reconciled once final selections are made.

This process is sometimes called design/build, guaranteed maximum price, or as I prefer to call it, and integrated project delivery method (IPDM). Integrated Project Delivery is also the recommended method for projects in which sustainability is a concern, as it often leads to more sustainable, more efficient and better coordinated buildings in the end.

In this particularly project, sustainability is indeed a concern. The house will be heated/cooled by a geothermal system, the new siding will be fiber-reinforced cement board, LED lighting will be provided throughout, and the finishes will be from sustainable or recycled materials. The existing house is also being ‘recycled’ through a deconstruction process via Baltimore Based 2nd Chance. Existing finishes, fixtures, etc, will be carefully removed and donated for resale and reuse.

We will keep you updated on the latest developments, but wanted to share our excitement about how smoothly this project has progressed to date. Stay tuned!