Richmond Row House - 20 West Leigh St. - Three-story brick Row House in Jackson Ward Historic District - Richmond, Virginia
Project Type: Private home in the style of the modernistic urban Row House
Architectural Firm: SMBW in Richmond, Virginia - Josh McCullar
Comments from Architectural Firm
Richmond, Virginia is a city of orderly row houses and an historic urban context as rich as Charleston, Georgetown, or Philadelphia. It is rare to happen upon a vacant urban lot, and even rarer that it be in a designated Historic District. We have designed a decidedly modernist urban Row House in Richmond’s historic Jackson Ward neighborhood for a client from Atlanta. It is a place of tall narrow houses with front porches, cast iron balustrades, bay windows, and intricate brick cornices.
The design is born of this context but extends a lineage of tradition reinterpreted for
this time and the client’s lifestyle. The result is a taut 20′x48′ rectangular box on three levels with a centrally located sky lit light-well inside that bathes the heart of the house with light. The light well bisects the plan and cross section front to back nearly symmetrically. Transparent glass bridges span across the vertical shaft of light and white walls. A projecting glass and metal window bay on the front facade was inspired by the bay windows that punctuate many of the historic houses on the street. Ground floor black steel and iron porch details, light brick, and a solid mahogany entry door complete the expression with a nod to its place in the city, but also its place in time.
The design received unanimous approval by the Richmond Commission of Architectural Review. The guidelines are similar to the standards set by the Secretary of the Interior, in which new construction shall be clearly discernible from the historic, but relate in materials, massing, and form.
Comments from Owners
“My favorite part of the house, obviously, has got to be the skylight and glass bridges,” said John Ryan, a Richmond, VA, homeowner who integrated VELUX VMS Skylights into his home. He also went on to state “because its beautiful and extremily functional, I love the end result”.
VELUX Products Utilized
Five fixed Longlight skylight modules – no venting – no blinds. Standard glazing with LowE3 argon gas infill. The skylights meet the 200lb fall resistance standard.
About The VMS System
The VELUX line of modular commercial skylights marks a shift in the evolution of traditional commercial skylights in this country. Designed in cooperation with architects from London-based Foster+Partners, ventilation and sunscreening components are subtly integrated within the skylight design. This fully prefabricated skylight concept offers the same benefits to commercial buildings that VELUX residential skylights offer to homeowners.
Ross Vandermark, national product manager for VELUX America, says that the company has partnered with Foster+Partners in the installation of various models of the skylights in a number of locations. “Nearly 400 of the units were specified for the new international airport in Panama City, Panama and another installation has been completed at Cornell University, the home of the first four-year architectural school in this country,” he says.
According to Mike Rhoden, commercial sales representative with VELUX, the skylight system is unique to VELUX and to the skylight world where commercial daylighting is concerned. “There is no structural framing between the skylights,” he says, “where typically with commercial skylights the opening is filled with a costly metal framework and then individual sections of glass are wet-glazed into place. The overall process can be quite time-consuming and heavily reliant upon little human error as well as ideal weather conditions to apply the sealants. The VMS modular skylight system is a complete unitized system that is fitted over the opening on a site-built curb.” Rhoden says that the system offers installation speed with a pre-designed, pre-engineered system with no value engineering necessary in the field. “There is no caulking, no putty, no welding, no boring, no soldering required – it’s a complete package solution,” he says, “and all dealers have access to the product now.”
The skylights are available in fixed and venting configurations and shades are custom-built for each unit. Custom sizing, colors and glazings are also available and VELUX pre-installs everything in a quality-controlled manufacturing environment where all electronics are bench-tested before leaving the factory.
Commenting on energy efficiency considerations, Vandermark points out that the VELUX-supplied control system allows for integration of the shades and skylight window motors into a building energy management system. “This not only provides daylight and fresh air,” he says, “but also enables automated climate control to help offset HVAC energy loads.”
“Foster+Partners was instrumental in not only choosing materials for the product but in the design and in making sure that aesthetically we took commercial skylights to a different level,” Rhoden says. Details at www.modularskylights.veluxusa.com.