Article Published in Spaces Magazine - Volume 3 Issue 4

While some condominium owners want to stay put due to great locations, they often struggle with wanting to have the latest and greatest amenities, such as state-of-the-art kitchens and hardwood flooring. Or maybe they want to update to get the highest return on their investment. Two architects and two interior designers walk us through the steps you can take to update, from doing complete overhauls to just adding a little paint.

Other buyers opt for new ultra-modern residences, such as The DROST, Moderno, 2120 Wyoming, Ten Ten Mass, and Allegro in DC. The latest in natural finishes, such as concrete and bamboo, as well as rooftop decks to take in the scenery are among the hot items in city condos. “The market is changing and that coincides with DC becoming a global city where design is influenced by Europe,” says Robb LaKritz, founder of LaKritz | Adler, developer of Moderno on 12th and U streets. “Most good design starts in Europe,” he adds.

These sleek new condominiums are not just in the city; they also can be found in community settings, such as The Mark at Dulles Station, Turnberry Tower Arlington, and Regatta Bay in Annapolis. But the latest concept in condominium living has to be Canyon Ranch Living-Bethesda. You don’t just live there; you delve into a wellness lifestyle where biofeedback, meditation, and therapeutic amenities take relaxation to a new level.

Active adult communities or retirement spaces are available as well, including K. Hovnanian’s Four Seasons Communities spanning from the outskirts of Anne Arundel County in Maryland at St. Margaret’s to Ashburn Village in Virginia. If you want to stay in DC or move there for its conveniences, the units at The Residences at Thomas Circle are unique offerings for those downsizing and for those who want to get around via public transportation or on foot.

Renewing an existing condo space, buying new, or moving to a retirement community is easier than ever with so many options.

‘Erase and Replace’

For Simon Jacobsen, CEO of Hugh Newell Jacobsen Architect, a renovation project at a 2,900-square-foot Watergate residence was a total demolition, an “erase and replace” effort. “The original floor plan was a triangle; it came to a point. There was no order to it, the previous owners lived in a pie slice,” Jacobsen says. So his mission began by removing a bedroom to straighten out the plan, creating a long hallway with storage for clothes and a bar, and maximizing the ceiling heights by removing colonial-style moldings and plastic chandeliers. “I turned it into a true modern space,” he adds. Jacobsen also created museum-quality rooms for the owners’ art.

A glass wall now separates the former bedroom turned home office from the living room, which features bleached oak flooring, stainless steel clad walls, and furnishings designed by Jacobsen as well as other items by Le Corbusier, Charles Eames, and Mies van der Rohe. Other elements of Jacobsen’s design, which include not only structural changes but also interior design components, spotlight built-ins and armoires for hiding TVs, sound systems, computers, and other electronics. Jacobsen had hardware specialists W.T. Weaver & Sons custom make door handles that are more appropriate for the new design than the former handles were.

In the kitchen, Jacobsen designed full-height cabinets manufactured by Dahlquist Studios Inc. to maximize storage and minimize clutter, plus added the convenience of a washer and dryer in a non-conventional location, under the counter, creating more counter space. Corian and stainless steel are the two main finishes in the kitchen giving it a sleek commercial look. The backsplashes are also full height and spot downlights accent the task at hand. Another Jacobsen tool is to lower the door handles and light switches to 30” from the floor to create the sense that the ceilings are much taller than they really are.

This Watergate renovation is “couture architecture,” Jacobsen says. “This type of living is for those who are in a stage of life where they realize it is now time to put things away and not keep them in the middle of the living room,” Jacobsen adds. Everything is still in arm’s reach, just invisible behind doors.

Renewing Down to the Bones

Debby Kernan, principal of Distinctive Designs, worked with her clients to first find The Ritz-Carlton residence in DC and then to totally redo the interior. “The owners were sold on the view from the living room,” which overlooks Georgetown and Foggy Bottom, Kernan says.

any of the walls were damaged and had to be removed, says Kernan, who had them replaced and then started with a clean slate. With large blank walls as canvases, the owners were able to display their collection of art throughout the residence.

Kernan added Zoffany wallcoverings in the main areas and the foyer where black granite flooring was one of the only things untouched in this home. Frequent visits to The Washington Design Center brought Holly Hunt furnishings, including a sectional sofa, and a Niermann Weeks chandelier into the spaces. Sometimes it’s a pillow or a piece of artwork that inspires Kernan’s designs. In this home, the colorful artwork became the focus of the residence with the furnishings in neutral tones acting as a backdrop.

Kitchen and Bath Redesign

When Bruce Wentworth, founder of Wentworth Studio, was called to renovate a kitchen and owner’s bathroom at a Watergate residence, it wasn’t the first time he had worked with this homeowner. He had done the same for her two-level residence in the 1990s. But this new space, all on one level, had a quirky hallway from the foyer to the kitchen, Wentworth says. So he designed a more functional hallway to the kitchen, installed 12” deep cabinets, added a butler’s pantry, and brought in daylight with a new opening from the kitchen to the living room decorated with ironwork designed by Wentworth and fabricated by Cardine Studios.

“I visually opened up the space,” Wentworth says. He added a table for two to have coffee or a meal and he incorporated top-of-the-line appliances, granite counters and floors, and high-tech lighting. The buttery cream-colored cabinets remind the owner of her mother’s kitchen growing up, Wentworth adds. “With intelligent design, it’s possible to get a table-space kitchen and maximum storage,” he says.

Wentworth is seeing some remodeling of existing condominiums, such as this one, for owners who are committed to staying put.

Rejuvenate With Paint

When it came time for Barbara and John Bailar to retire four years ago, they thought of DC. Having lived in Southwest DC for 30 years before moving to Chicago, they knew they wanted to return to the District to enjoy the amenities of city life during retirement. Once they found the right home, a co-op at 2101 Connecticut Ave. with large rooms and about 3,200 square feet of living space, the search was on for a way to lighten the rooms and display their shared craft – needlepoint.

Debbie Wiener, principal of Designing Solutions, provided the answers. Wiener painted walls in varying shades of Benjamin Moore’s yellows and golds with creamy white trim and a Rosy Peach accent color along the crown. A wall in a deeper shade of yellow in the dining room draws the eye to a family heirloom – a rug John Bailar’s grandmother created.

Imported custom window treatments in woven reeds and bamboo allow the Bailars to bring in or filter out as much light as they like. Track, monopoint, and recessed pinhole lights by Juno and Lightolier brighten the spaces, including the long gallery from the entry door where the owners display their paired artwork and can even watch a movie with the built-in projector screen installed by the previous owner.

Ultra Modern Is In

If modern can co-exist with historic, then Ali R. Honarkar, partner at DIVISION 1 Architects, can make it happen. A recent renovation project near Dupont Circle kept Honarkar busy, taking a year and a half to get through the permit process due to its contemporary design. Now that it’s just about complete, DIVISION 1 Architects, a partnership between Honarkar and his University of Maryland friend Mustafa Ali Nouri, is setting sights on The DROST, named after a college professor, and another condominium project The LACEY, both located in the Shaw/U Street corridor of Northwest. The DROST is scheduled for completion in fall 2007, while The LACEY is still on the drawing board.

Four stories high with four units total, The DROST, developed by Development Studios, takes shape as a long, lean building with “raw masonry offset by blond timber,” Honarkar says. Open access to the outdoors is key to the design with each unit offering either a patio or wraparound terrace and a link to the backyard and rooftop deck. Studio Snaidero is collaborating with DIVISION 1 Architects to create kitchens that offer maximum function without detracting from the design.

For the development firm of LaKritz | Adler, finding the right marriage of good, clean design was important when they embarked on the 19-unit condominium project at 12th and U streets. Called Moderno, this project reflects the innovative design by CORE architecture + design that Robb LaKritz, a principal along with Josh Adler at LaKritz | Adler, was looking for. “Minimalism, simplicity, cleanliness of design” is the focus of Moderno, fashioned after the progressive finishes often associated with restaurant designs, LaKritz says.

Each unit will be tailored to fit an active lifestyle with options presented in a boutique atmosphere where buyers select from collections of options. Industrialstyle concrete or tiles made of ceramic or natural stone comprise the floor selections, while the couture kitchens, designed by LaKritz, are a combination of frameless cabinets matching the clean edges of the units’ frameless doors and sleek counters. Laminates, stainless steel, and alloys blend into the scenery in kitchens that flow into living rooms. It’s all about presentation. “People cook less,” LaKritz remarks, but want to be a part of the action. Private hot tubs are also planned for the penthouse units.

This mixed-use building will include street-level retail and an element of art, LaKritz says. “Art brings vitality to a neighborhood.” Moderno sales are scheduled to begin this summer.

Around the City

While some buildings, such as The Chastleton at 16th and R streets which is a conversion project of apartments into co-ops, are not so new to the city, others, such as 2120 Wyoming, are, reflecting the diversity in urban living options.

Located half a block off Connecticut Avenue on Wyoming Avenue in Kalorama, 2120 Wyoming, developed by The Chastleton’s developer Keener-Squire Properties, will offer four high-end units in a convenient and scenic locale. Opening in late summer/early fall with sales by Urban Pace and prices starting at $1.6 million, 2120 Wyoming includes a total of nine parking spots with seven underground, limestone or marble foyers, and stone or wood fireplace surrounds that coordinate with kitchen cabinetry.

The lower level unit features two bedrooms and a study with three bedrooms and a study offered in the other residences. A private elevator stops at each unit and opens into the foyer in these modern dwellings. Designed by Wnuk Spurlock Architecture, 2120 Wyoming offers outdoor space for each unit, including a rooftop deck and a green roof dedicated to the top floor unit.

Located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and 11th Street, just off K Street, is the new condominium building, Ten Ten Mass, developed by RCP Development Company, Faison Enterprises Inc., and The Carlyle Group. By designing a high-end contemporary building with the architectural firm Esocoff & Associates Architects’ signature curve, Ten Ten Mass offers plenty of glass with floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the views of this unique location, says Steve Etminani, president of RCP Development Company.

With prices ranging from $400,000 to $1.5 million, the 163 luxury residences offer one to three bedrooms with most of the three-bedroom units already sold. The quality of the building, the high-end finishes, and the location near retail and office projects make Ten Ten Mass a special offering, Etminani adds. Condominiums, such as Ten Ten Mass, in convenient locations are sprouting up all over the city. Allegro condominiums, developed by Metro Properties Inc., are situated east of Adams Morgan and north of U Street in Columbia Heights. These condos bring an array of finishes to buyers, such as rail and pendant lighting, advanced wiring systems, and baths with natural stone counters in the units and a lounge and a fitness center in the building.

Turning to Virginia

A model residence at the 26-story Turnberry Tower Arlington, developed by Turnberry Ltd., offers a look at the many amenities inside this luxury building that overlooks Virginia suburbs and Washington landmarks. Snaidero cabinetry, Miele and Sub-Zero appliances, Jacuzzi tubs, and Valli & Valli door locks are among the fine finishes in the condos. Many also have direct-entry elevators. Priced from the $800,000s to more than $5 million, the residences will include electronic panel screens so residents can request their cars from valet, communicate with the staff, and inquire about dining and entertainment in the area.

“I love the idea that everything will be in the building, so if I don’t want to drive, I won’t have to,” says Ada Casperino, who purchased an 1,800-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-and-one-half bath residence. “I’ve been terribly impressed with Turnberry and its high standards. It’s evident the developer desires to attract solid people who will truly make this their home.”

The Mark at Dulles Station, developed by Crimson Partners, in Fairfax’s town center offers 169 residential condominiums plus retail space in a live, work, play environment. The town center concept becomes increasingly important as more people move to the area and traffic increases, says Kevin Dougherty, founder and managing partner of Crimson Partners.

“There are convenient options, such as a mix of dining, shops, and services. Everything will be close, which will keep travel time to a minimum,” says Darren Karbowski, who recently purchased a condo at The Mark at Dulles Station.

The Wellness Wave

What began as a venture into a healthier way to vacation with the creation of Canyon Ranch Resorts has now turned into a way of life. The wellness lifestyle industry is coming to the DC area with the addition of Canyon Ranch Living-Bethesda developed by Canyon Ranch of Tucson, Arizona and The Penrose Group, which is locally-based. This is the second Canyon Ranch Living community being developed with the first under construction in Miami.

With two 20-story towers including 434 condominiums, plus a hotel and luxury rental apartments, Canyon Ranch Living-Bethesda offers one-of-a-kind services, such as nutrition counseling, lifestyle management, and medical screenings and consultations. Therapeutic body treatments in the spa and rock climbing as part of the fitness activities show the range of amenities offered at Canyon Ranch Living-Bethesda.

The experience at a Canyon Ranch Resort is profound, says Kevin Kelly, Canyon Ranch president. “We don’t consider our job done if someone doesn’t take something away from the experience,” Kelly adds. So why not feel this way everyday, not just on vacation? “The next generation of lifestyle around real estate is wellness,” Kelly says. “We try to create an environment where the hurdles to living healthier are reduced.” Becoming educated about stress management, preventive medicine, and movement therapies improve quality of life.

The 53-acre site off Rock Spring and Rockledge drives in Bethesda will include a central park with rocks, woods, and water recreating a calming environment. Healing properties will transcend into the interior finishes, says Mark Gregg, president of The Penrose Group, with high ceilings and open living spaces. “This will be a consummation of the best of Canyon Ranch,” he says. “How many condo purchases offer a personal health assessment?”

With prices ranging from $900,000 to more than $6 million, the units bring high-end designs by Lessard Group Inc. in Vienna and Peter Fillat in Baltimore. The Los Angeles-based Jerde Partnership is the architectal firm for the retail spaces, while BBG-BBGM of New York and DC is designing the hotel and Wellness Center. Canyon Ranch Living-Bethesda is not just offering real estate; it’s also selling a healthier lifestyle.

Active Lifestyle

K. Hovnanian Homes first built active adult communities “for those 55 and better” in Florida decades ago. Now called K. Hovnanian’s Four Seasons, Active Adult Communities, the residences are available in 10 states, including Maryland and Virginia. In Maryland, Four Seasons at St. Margaret’s in Anne Arundel County offers a gated setting with luxury garage and non-garage condominiums. A clubhouse and pool are among the community amenities, while open floor plans with spacious living areas highlight the interiors.

In Virginia, Four Seasons at Ashburn Village is wrapping up sales of the 80 luxury condominiums in the community. The Auburn and Chester are twobedroom, two-bathroom floor plans with more than 1,600 square feet of living space.

“K. Hovnanian’s Four Seasons communities offer a variety of home designs to meet the needs of our active adult buyers … including multi-story condominiums with elevators,” says Dee Minich, group senior vice president of sales and marketing for K. Hovnanian Homes. The larger communities include clubhouses with pools, fitness centers, meditation and card rooms, cyber cafés, and grand ballrooms. Pools, tennis courts, and walking trails provide outdoor recreational amenities.

Luxury Meets Convenience

Living at The Residences at Thomas Circle presents a unique lifestyle option in the heart of DC with public transportation and city amenities right out the door. Developed by The Carlyle Group and managed by Sunrise Senior Living, The Residences at Thomas Circle, designed for those 62 and older, is a continuing care community with condo ownership, says Beth Jansen, director of community relations for Sunrise Senior Living.

Fine dining, weekly housekeeping, transportation, concierge service, and cultural activities as well as a security system and a 24-hour lifeline for medical emergencies are among the amenities. For fun, a rooftop pool, fitness center, and game room are open to residents.

Prices range from the mid-$200,000s for studios to the $700,000s for threebedroom units. There will be a total of 105 condos in the community with a limited number released periodically.

As people age, they can still be independent in the city by stepping out the door and grabbing a taxi at The Residences at Thomas Circle, Jansen adds.

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