Unique Spaces is a series on UrbanTurf where we take a look at properties that could be considered “one-of-a-kind” in the DC area. If you have a home that you think fits the bill, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. See all of our past Unique Spaces articles here.
“Shortly after we moved in, the parent of one of our daughter’s friends came by and said ‘You live in the Baker house,’” Isabelle Blanco remembers.
The parent went on to say that the house was not only recognizable in the neighborhood because of its rather unique design, but also because the wife of David Baker, the home’s architect and first owner, never wanted anything near the home’s many windows.
“She wanted them to be free and clear of anything that might take away from the sparse, modernist look,” Blanco said. “We’ve tried to do that as well, as clear windows are really crucial to the impact you get when looking in or out. I don’t even like driving up to the house and seeing the blinds down on a sunny day!”
Anyone that looks at the exterior of the cantilevered home can immediately understand the importance of windows. The four-bedroom mid-century modern home is almost completely wrapped in glass and backs up to the wilderness of Rock Creek Park.
Blanco and her husband were not only attracted to the glass exterior and modern design when they purchased the home in 1999, but also the property’s wide open layout. Having relocated from New York City to a co-op at The Oakland near the corner of Columbia Road and Connecticut Avenue NW, the couple was looking for something that reminded them of the loft spaces in Manhattan.
“When we walked into the home, we were immediately taken by how spacious and open the floorplan was,” Blanco told UrbanTurf.
According to a 1997 article from The Washington Times, Baker designed the property as a “solar space home,” which meant that it was built on a steel-beam framework from the top down, the roof going on first, followed by the walls and then the lower level. The goal was to provide a spacious feel with sun shining in from three walls of windows. (The eight Bethlehem Steel pillars that continue to support the home were stripped of drywall by the Bivings for a more industrial feel.)
In 2000, the couple decided to add on a third level to the upper left of the house that has become perhaps the most striking part of the entire property. The addition consists of a large master bedroom, walk-in closet and bathroom, completely surrounded by windows. Given the exposure to the outside world, it almost feels like a crow’s nest.
Since their children have gone away to college, the couple realized that they no longer needed such a large living space. Hence, their decision to put the home on the market. Once the house has sold, they plan to rent again for awhile, possibly heading back down toward Dupont Circle or to Silver Spring, which is just about five minutes away. Though they are excited for what lies ahead, they will certainly miss the experiences that the design of 2141 Sudbury afforded them.
“In the winter, you can sit in the master bedroom or living room and look out and observe the wilderness in the park,” Blanco said. “There aren’t many homes in DC where that is the case.”