AIA Chesapeake Bay Merit Award, 2015


Renovations to The Crest at Congressional Plaza
Rockville, Maryland

The owners of this eight-year old courtyard-focused housing complex knew they had problems. The lobby/lounge had no outdoor space to engage in nice weather, and was not organized to encourage interaction among residents. The entire exterior public area was devoted to an over-sized pool, open to residents only three months of the year. Ground floor apartments had windows opening directly to the pool court, affording no privacy for the occupants of those units, and when the pool was closed, there was no outdoor space where the residents could socialize. 

By shrinking the pool and its dedicated fenced-in terrace, communal outdoor space could be created off the renovated lobby and lounge, and private gardens were provided for all the ground floor units facing the courtyard. The only modifications to the building itself were a new, more subtle color scheme, and the clustering of balconies into larger-scaled figures to give hierarchy to the courtyard facades, and privacy to adjacent balconies. 

White-painted brick piers with steel lintels are infilled with ipe fencing, forming a common language of materials used throughout. Fences facing the pool are open-wire green screens planted for privacy and visual warmth. 

What had been one, big undifferentiated space, devoted entirely to a seasonal use, is now 12 separately defined spaces ranging in function from private to semi-public to public.