While this may look like a 21st century take on a midcentury modern home, this is actually a preservation and renovation of a home built in 1962 on Gibson Island in Maryland.
The home was designed by noted midcentury architect, Ulrich Franzen, a disciple of I.M. Pei—who designed homes at the beginning of his career but is also noted for designing the glass pyramid outside the Louvre as well as the Rock’n’roll Hall of Fame in Cincinnati.
The Franzen home boasts a thin roofline and eight columns of weathering steel made from the original owner’s employer, Bethlehem Steel Corporation. This robust frame allows for a lack of load bearing exterior and interior walls so that Franzen could incorporate a continuous band of glass that runs along the entire perimeter.
When searching for a summer retreat, the current owners discovered the home along a wooded inland lot at the island’s highest point above the convergence of the Chesapeake Bay and the Magothy River. Over the years, the home underwent several renovations creating a group of closed spaces that did not take advantage of the views, and the new owners hired Rill Architects, who returned the house to its original walls of glass glory.
The existing steel beams, glass walls and stone designed by Franzen were maintained while further opening the interior to accentuate the wooded property's natural beauty. Aside from the bedrooms and bathrooms, which are shielded by an interior front stone wall, Rill Architects turned the entire floor plan into an open layout, providing a perfect setting for the home's minimalist design.
The first-floor master bedroom was reoriented to take advantage of the view from the windows above a stone wall, while two first-level bathrooms were renovated, and the kitchen was given a complete overhaul, while paying homage to Franzen and his aesthetic.
A new open staircase in the foyer replaced an existing elevator to the lower level and the indoor pool was removed—a new pool was built outside—to create a guest bedroom and bath, and home office with access to a semi-private patio. In addition, the rear of the lower level was opened to the outdoors as well.
It's an update and a redo and a renovation that still pays tribute to the original design and ideas from 1962.