By Design

Richmond architecture firm wins top honor.

For nearly a decade, Richmond-based architects Katie and Danny MacNelly, aged 40 and 42, dreamed of building a country getaway. 

As the husband and wife duo behind the architecture and design group ARCHITECTUREFIRM, they were busy. Insanely busy. But while relaxation was high on the list, more than anything else, the couple wanted their three boys—ages 10, 9 and 5—to have a place where they could roam and experience nature. Looking to the mountains, the MacNellys bought a 40-acre plot just outside of Scottsville and completed their home in 2013.

The MacNellys not only realized their dream, their unusual design took home the Residential Design Honor + Excellence Award at AIA Virginia’s 2016 Awards for Excellence in Architecture last October.

The house consists of three long rectangular cabins with a separate kayak-stowing garage positioned out of sight from the house. Set atop a hillside bluff surrounded by forest, the structures are splayed like a three-prong fan and connected by a deck and roofed breezeway. Painted olive-green and framed by treetop-level views of the river, the flat roofs and horizontal cedar siding lend the configuration a natural, almost rocklike feel—as if it was birthed by geological processes rather than hammer and nails. Inside, the walls, cabinets, floors, trim, tables and more are also made of cedar. “This was a truly special site and a particularly special project evolved out of that fact,” says Danny. “What we added was a clear and simple intervention that would suit our needs without overwhelming the sense of place.” ArchitectureFirm.com, AIAVa.org/HonorsAwards

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