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Dahlonega House: Let there be light

The architect David Jameson is obsessed with detail on the one hand. On the other hand he masters the grand gesture of steel, exposed concrete and wood. To be admired at Dahlonega House in Bethesda, Maryland. Which, by the way, is currently for sale - for 3.5 million dollars.

Text: Bernd Haase Photo: Sotheby's 22.04.2020 2 min

It was sometime in the 2000-years when the American architect David Jameson took a close look at a newly completed federal building in San Francisco. It had just won an award for its layout and environmentally friendly design. Jameson examined every detail down to the last bit, from the vents to the exits. Until a police patrol checked him - because they thought he was a potential terrorist.

This David Jameson is less known for radical activities. But he can be radical. When he encounters houses that don't radiate any of the brightness and lightness and modernity. He must have felt the same way when he was called to Dahlonega Road in Bethesda. A ranch-style, one-story brick building stood there, a stone's throw from the Potomac River and a good quarter of an hour's drive from Washington D.C. Perfect location, optimizable architecture. Fortunately, the client embodied Jameson's ideal of a client: »One who embraces challenge and is open to ideas.«

Jameson started with his favorite material: light, which he combined with white concrete, various types of wood and steel. For the central living area, he lifted the ceiling, opened it up and placed a central glass cube on top, so that the living room extends over two floors and is flooded with light. There is also a centrally located fireplace made of flamed, self-supporting granite. The view falls towards the dining area and gourmet kitchen. He combines the dominant stainless steel stove with larch wood paneling, which in turn forms a pleasant contrast to the coolness of the marble tops of the work surface.

A hand-forged, light staircase leads to the second level, where Jameson has installed a studio with a large glass front, bathroom and walk-in wardrobe. The covered terrace also offers a panoramic view of the Potomac River. Incidentally, the glass façade here is contrasted by dark wood paneling sealed using the Japanese Shou-Sugi-Ban technique - the wood is carefully charred to protect it from the elements.

On the lower floor, the bedrooms and children's rooms with lounge, bathroom and a further family room as well as access to the terraced, tree-lined garden with swimming pool. Not to forget the wine cellar. Even the wine cellar is airy and light with the bottles that seem to float freely in the room. It is such details that characterize Jameson's work - and for which he sometimes studies other buildings as inspiration until the police come.