MRT RECAP & PREVIEW: Where We Were (in 2015) and Where We’re Going (in 2016) / by Modern Richmond

2015 was our sixth year of celebrating Richmond’s modern architecture. Encouraged by our loyal and ever growing number of colleagues, friends and guests, Modern Richmond was able to showcase and share eight special projects. Each building offered its own unique perspective on modern design yet, as we look back, we again realize that all of these projects were connected by a basic tenet of modern design.

 “Modernism is not a style, it is an attitude.” Marcel Breuer

March 18//The Rice House//1000 Old Locke Lane

Photograph of Richard Neutra's Rice House in Richmond, Virginia by Ansel Olson  

Photograph of Richard Neutra's Rice House in Richmond, Virginia by Ansel Olson  

We began the 2015 season at the Rice House, one of our favorite and most well attended venues. The only example of Richard Neutra’s International style in Richmond was showcased on a beautiful early spring evening.  Dramatically situated on a 110-foot ledge overlooking the James River, the Rice House is named after the original owners, Inger and Walter Rice. Completed in 1965, the 6,000 square foot house recently underwent a major stabilization project focused primarily on protecting and upgrading the exterior of the house. Highlights of the evening were presentations by two members of the project team, architects Bodil Hammeman and Patrick Farley. 

Speakers: Bodil Hanneman, Rice House Team Leader and Patrick Farley, Rice House Team (Restoration & Preservation Team) 

Catering by: Mosaic and Shuttle Service: BioRide

April 15//Beckstoffer’s Loft Apartments//1207 n. 28th Street

Beckstoffer’s Loft Apartments and Somanath Senior Apartments | Photo: ©Chris Cunningham Photography

Beckstoffer’s Loft Apartments and Somanath Senior Apartments | Photo: ©Chris Cunningham Photography

Beckstoffer’s Loft Apartments and Somanath Senior Apartments at Beckstoffer’s represent Phases I & II of the Better Housing Coalition’s Beckstoffer’s block development in North Church Hill. In the early 1900’s, German native Henry Beckstoffer established a lumber mill on N. 28th Street, supplying materials for homes in The Fan District, Church Hill, the Governor’s Mansion, Agecroft Hall and other local treasures. After three generations, the firm was sold in 2006. In 2008 the Better Housing Coalition (BHC) acquired the property and transformed the former mill structure into 22 energy-efficient, mixed-income loft apartments. Two buildings on the site of the former lumberyard encompass the 39 units of Somanath Senior Apartments at Beckstoffer’s, which opened in 2014. The smaller, seven-unit building is designed to be “net-zero energy” – the first affordable property of its kind in Virginia. The 32-unit, three-story building is certified to EarthCraft’s Tier III (highest) level of energy efficiency. 

Speakers: Bernard Rogers of BHC, K.C. Belize of Earthcraft VA, Mark Larson, AIA, Baskervill

Sponsor: Groovin” Gourmets

May 13//Xtreme Rehab Redux//5208 Riverside Drive

5208 Riverside Drive. Watershed Architects

5208 Riverside Drive. Watershed Architects

Sited along a noted Virginia Scenic Byway, this late 1940’s cottage-style home was fully rehabilitated and expanded to capture views into the James River valley while expressing the owner’s appreciation for modernism. The “upside-down” configuration of primary living spaces over top of secondary functions improves overall functionality while enhancing the home’s connections to the landscape. (Long-time MRT fans will remember this house as the site of a hardhat Exchange during construction back in the spring of 2013.) Watershed delivered the project as both architect and builder and firm founder/principal Patrick Farley told the story of transforming a modest little place into a modern living environment reflecting 21st century values.

Speaker: Patrick Farley, AIA, Watershed Architects

Sponsor: Rancho T

June 17//Rural Pool House//1614 Carriage Drive//Manakin-Sabot

Photography credit: Mick Anders Photography

Photography credit: Mick Anders Photography

To kick off the summer, Modern Richmond visited a rural retreat in nearby Goochland County. Taking cues from the forms of vernacular buildings, this multipurpose pool house by Fraerman Associates Architecture capitalized on beautiful westerly views. Outside, a gable roof and stonewalls nod to the rural setting while a striking and bold trellis controls the sun and ensures year-round comfort. Inside, vaulted ceilings and a restrained material palette keep things functional and focused on the scenery beyond. 

Speakers: Jenny Maraghy & Karen Stephens of Joyner Fine Properties (with input from the architect and owner)

Sponsors: Jenny Peel Maraghy & Karen Stephens Realtor of Joyner Fine Properties - Maple

September 16//Tektonics Design Group//702 E. 4th Street

Modern Richmond Tour: Lanre Ajibola

Modern Richmond Tour: Lanre Ajibola

To those who would perhaps propose that American manufacturing is on the decline, Tektonics Design Group and its family of “Made In RVA” brands would counter that in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Principals Christopher Hildebrand and Hinmaton Hisler, each with a background in traditional blacksmithing and metal craft, started their industrial design firm in 2003 in the Old Manchester neighborhood of Richmond. Since then, they’ve worked with architects and designers all along the East Coast, and are known for their ability to solve unique design and fabrication problems (a current project involves the design and fabrication of 40 solid mahogany reproduction Corinthian capitals to be installed in the Rotunda of the University of Virginia as part of their massive restoration project). 

As they built the Tektonics brand and reputation, Christopher and Hinmaton also began to grow several in-house brands that could more tightly focus and deliver on their massive skillsets and capabilities. These include Fern & Roby, a furniture and audio line that integrates reclaimed wood and custom castings; Stijl Cycles, Richmond’s premier maker of bespoke custom bicycles; and Loco Machine, a business-to-business brand of high-quality turned and machined titanium bicycle components used by frame builders across the country in their bicycle builds.

The expansive 20,000 sq.ft. industrial space in Manchester (originally built in the ‘30s by the Army Corps of Engineers) houses their design offices, full machine shop, dedicated welding areas, bicycle studio, showroom and woodshop. Operating under a single roof allows the challenges involved with conceptualizing, modeling and machining their own products—whether a head tube or a bronze turntable platter—to be solved as easily the projects they manage for their corporate clients.

Speakers:  Christopher Hildebrand and Hinmaton Hisler, Tektonics Design Group Principals

Sponsor: Backyard Grill

November 11//Citizen Six//2515.5 Floyd Avenue

A rendering of the row houses at 2615-2619 Floyd Ave. (Courtesy of Bill Chapman)

A rendering of the row houses at 2615-2619 Floyd Ave. (Courtesy of Bill Chapman)

Citizen 6 was an urban infill project completed in 2015 that replaced a 1950's era office building and surface parking lot with six new single-family homes. The project took place on the 2600 block of Floyd Avenue, a non-traditional stretch of Richmond's Fan District that included a block-long 4-story parking deck and only one owner-occupied single family home. In addition, the project's L-shaped parcel required a Special Use permit to allow variances in lot coverage, lot size and parking and a Subdivision for seven individual lots. Based on the surrounding nontraditional elements, the project took a non-traditional approach in design. The six homes reflect fine contemporary architecture while paying close attention to the scale, massing and material palette of the neighborhood. The result was a project that met 100% approval from the Fan District Association and City of Richmond Planning Board. 

Construction began in summer of 2014 and all six homes were sold before sheetrock was installed at prices 20 to 25 percent above existing sale prices on Floyd. The project was completed in late 1Q 2015 with all six owners taking occupancy by March. The project has won the 2015 Contextual Design Award from the Virginia AIA and has been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers and regional television. It is recognized as a trail-blazing project, establishing pricing and demand for high quality new construction in the city and has influenced others to pursue similar developments.

Speakers: Burt Pinnock of Baskervill, Bill Chapman, Mr. and Mrs. Kelly O'Keefe

December 2//Modern Richmond Holiday Party// La Diff//125 S. 14th Street, Richmond, VA 23219

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Our annual holiday party was once again at La Diff, one of Richmond’s most innovative contemporary furniture stores. La Diff’s ever changing offerings of furniture and home accessories were wonderfully presented against a background of holiday decorations. We appreciate and value our relationship with Andy and Sarah and thank them for opening their building for our Modern Richmond supporters.

A highlight of the evening was meeting and hearing from Craig Reynolds, Ph.D, the recently appointed Curator at the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design. As Craig reminded us, “…everything was modern at one point in time.”

Speakers: Craig Reynolds, Ph.D., Curator of The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, Andy Thornton and Sarah Paxton of LaDiff

Sponsors:  LaDiff, AIA Virginia, Umanoff Design, Buckhead's Chop House

Looking Ahead

2016 is shaping up as another exciting year for Modern Richmond to showcase and share examples of the best modern design in Richmond. Our tours will include a diverse group of projects, ranging from carefully detailed residents to innovative urban infill designs. We’ll also be touring one of the newest and best downtown restoration projects in Richmond. And as in past years, 2016 will include an evening of architectural movies. Finally, we’re excited to be rolling out a new partnership with one of Richmond’s most important architecture and design organizations. More details will soon follow.

Our sincere thanks to all of the kindred spirits and supporters of modern design. We look forward to seeing you again this year.

Watch our event page on our website and Facebook page for detailed announcements!