As we discover on a daily basis, the bonding over midcentury modern can occur at any given time, anywhere. When architect Mario Pareja connected to his clients through their children’s shared school, their journey towards designing a dream home for the couple was bound for.
The clients were after an industrial feel and having the main rooms face the beautiful Lake Barcroft view was of utter importance. We spoke to Pareja about the modernist and midcentury aesthetic and his approach to this project.
Can you tell us a bit about the story of this house/project and its owners?
I met the clients Moe and Michelle Jafari in a volunteer program in my children’s school. I mentioned that I owned a small architectural firm and that we were very modern with a tilt to midcentury modern. They mentioned that they lived in a midcentury modern in a residential development called Lake Barcroft.
They were looking for a water front property to build their dream home. We went to see a lot that was for sale, but they were not happy with the views or size, so they did not pursue it. From that moment it took five years for them to find the right lot. I got a call in late September in 2013 from Michelle telling me they got a lot with a tear down, and asked if I would still be interested in designing their home.
What was the first question you asked yourself when you got the assignment?
How can i represent the feel of a midcentury, but keeping the spirit intact of being progressive.
What did your clients ask for in their brief?
A critical part of the program was that all the main rooms should face the lake. This was a difficult undertaking because after we tore down the existing house we could not add to the footprint without creating issues with the watershed act of Fairfax County.
What was your approach for the project?
I walked the property at various times of the day to get a feel for the light and views. Quickly I realized that the best view would be from the third level that would eventually become the great room.
Which is your favourite/most important feature of this house and why?
My favorite feature of this house is the great room and how you approach it. The main floor is reached by a bridge that creates an amazing threshold from the public to the private. When you enter the house you have a long view of the lake.
The house features a dramatic roof-line and an interesting mix of materials and shapes. Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration?
The clients wanted to have an industrial feel and maintenance free materials we primarily used Galvalum for the roof that is also part of the wall system, cement board for exterior siding and composite concrete floor system for all the floors. The main level (great room) is skewed to get the maximum diagonal surface area of the lake, but also by skewing it, the next door neighbor to the South West did not lose a view to the lake from his studio.
Have you found any inspiration in the midcentury period while designing the house?
My inspiration for midcentury design starts with Frank Loyd Wright’s Usonian houses of the early forties to the late fifties. Especially the houses he designed in Pleasantville, NY.
The Modernist and midcentury aesthetic still inspire many contemporary architects, why do you think this is the case?
The freedom to express on the outside what is occurring on the inside is critical. The placement of the house on the natural site without altering the site to accept the house.
Why do you think it’s important to continue producing houses/buildings that conform to modernist design principles?
The newer green materials that are being manufactured beg for new forms and spaces where the material can be celebrated and also the human spirit.