I would like to receive the following free email newsletters:

Newsletter Signup
  1. Bridal Party
  2. Dining Out
  3. Kliman Online
  4. Photo Ops
  5. Shop Around
  6. Where & When
  7. Well+Being
  8. Learn more
They Know Design: Top Architects in Washington
Here are 37 top architects who design beautiful homes, additions, and renovations. By Mary Clare Glover
Mark Buchanan of Neumann Lewis Buchanan designed this new house, on 80 acres in western Montgomery County, to blend in with neighboring red-brick farmhouses. Photograph by Ron Blunt.
Comments () | Published March 1, 2008

Who are the best architects in Washington? To find out, we went to the source—to local architects.

In an online survey we asked residential architects to tell us about peers whose work they admire. (They could not vote for themselves or for their partners.) We asked about established firms and up-and-comers, about modernists, classicists, and every style in between. We also reviewed lists of award winners in local and national design competitions.

The result is this list—the 37 firms that received the most recommendations. Then we called them and listened to them describe their work.

If an architect is not listed, it does not mean the firm isn’t good. Some well-known firms, like Hartman-Cox, focus on commercial projects. Other top talents, including Hugh Newell Jacobsen and Allan Greenberg, have national reputations but do not do a lot of projects in Washington. Some firms are too new or too small to receive many votes. And firms listed here may not be right for your project—but might happily provide referrals.

Another way to find an architect is through the American Institute of Architects. Log on to to find links to more than 70 members who do business throughout Washington. (Go to “client resource center” under “hire an architect.”) You can see more extensive portfolios by visiting the AIA chapter at 1777 Church Street, near Dupont Circle; 202-667-1798.

AIA’s Northern Virginia chapter (703-549-9747) lists more than 100 architects on its Web site, (click on “find an architect”), while Maryland’s Potomac Valley chapter (301-935-5544) lets you search for an architect by Zip code on

For a DC couple who had lived for decades in Japan, Muse Architects designed a home filled with natural light and such touches as sliding shoji screens. Photograph courtesy of Muse.

Top Vote Getters

If you are spending money on an architect, you may want a design that could land your house in Architectural Digest. The firms below frequently win awards, and many of their designs have appeared in national magazines. Insiders say these 11 firms are doing the very best work in Washington.

Barnes Vanze Architects, Northwest DC; 202-337-7255; also in Middleburg; Since founding Barnes Vanze Architects in 1989, Anthony “Ankie” Barnes and Stephen Vanze have grown their firm from 2 to 30 architects. Although most known for traditional styles, they also take on modern projects.

Cunningham/Quill Architects, Northwest DC; 202-337-0090; cunninghamquillcom. Ralph Cunningham and Lee Quill head a team of 25 architects at this Georgetown firm. Well versed in both traditional and modern styles, the firm places an emphasis on creating, says Cunningham, “an overall unified look.”

David Jameson Architect, Alexandria; 703-739-3840; A top vote getter in our survey; David Jameson’s modern designs have won awards locally, nationally, and internationally. Peers call his work innovative, detailed, and thoughtful. “We never do the same thing twice,” says Jameson. “That’s what makes it a blast.”

David Jones Architect, Northwest DC; 202-332-1200; The six architects at this firm do high-end, traditional work. Jones describes his designs as “simple” and “geared toward casual living.” He often incorporates ecofriendly technology such as geothermal heating and cooling systems and green roofs.

McInturff Architects, Bethesda; 301-229-3705; One of the area’s premier architects. Mark McInturff’s modern, innovative work consistently wins awards. Peers call McInturff’s work elegant and thoughtful, and they admire his attention to detail.

Moore Architects, Alexandria; 703-837-0080; Among our top vote getters, Charles Moore and his team of eight architects can turn a drab 1940s ranch into a stunning bungalow or add a seamless addition to a historic farmhouse. Says one peer: “I admire the way Charlie Moore is able to use history in a smart way.”

For this new Potomac house, which sits on a wooded slope, Mark McInturff designed a screened porch that allows the owners to sit amid the trees. Photograph courtesy of of Julia Heine/McInturff Architects.

Muse Architects, Bethesda; 301-718-8118; Stephen Muse says his 15-architect firm does a lot of “corrective surgery” on older or historic houses: “We try to extend what’s best about the house and fix its problems.” For many of Washington’s old homes, that means creating more glassy, open spaces.

Neumann Lewis Buchanan Architects, Northwest DC; 202-775-4881; also in Middleburg; David Neumann, Andy Lewis, and Mark Buchanan specialize in traditional, timeless styles for high-end new homes and renovations. A top vote getter in our survey; this firm’s award-winning work can be found in the Washington area, rural Virginia, and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Robert M. Gurney, Alexandria; 703-739-3843; Winner of multiple AIA awards in recent years—and the person who garnered the most votes from peers in our survey—Gurney is known for unique and sophisticated modern design.

Russell Versaci Architecture, Middleburg; 540-687-8777; Russell Versaci is a leader in the “new old house” design movement, which uses classic, traditional styles in high-end new homes. Versaci describes his work as “the antidote to the McMansion” and says his designs often incorporate front porches and dormers.

Wiedemann Architects, Bethesda; 301-652-4022; Although most known for seamless additions to and renovations of older homes, Greg Wiedemann also does modern work. His designs convey a sense of intimacy. “We want our homes to feel comfortable to our clients,” he says.


Subscribe to Washingtonian
Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 03/01/2008 RSS | Print | Permalink | Articles