Unique Spaces: A Studio 27 Renovation on Capitol Hill

by Jennifer Sergent

Unique Spaces: A Studio 27 Renovation on Capitol Hill: Figure 1
The front remained untouched in the renovation.

This article was published in May 2010 as part of UrbanTurf's Unique Spaces series, 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 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). See all of our past Unique Spaces articles here.

From the street, Juan Felipe Rincon and RC Bates’ Capitol Hill row house looks no different from the neighboring homes: An elegant red-brick, federal-style façade capped with a proper cornice and dentils that reflect the home's 19th-century roots.

That’s pretty much where the similarities end, though. Open the translucent glass front door, and this row house reveals a modern, 21st-century interior, rebuilt two years ago to the highest green standards.

Bates bought the house in 1998, and when Rincon moved in, they decided to stay put and renovate it, instead of moving elsewhere. Bates said the "pseudo-Victorian” had been "done and redone" over the years, but that the renovations had been nothing special.

"We had to do something drastic,” he told UrbanTurf.

Enter Studio27 Architecture, a K Street architecture firm that has designed homes and offices across the country and is known for its green, contemporary approach.

Unique Spaces: A Studio 27 Renovation on Capitol Hill: Figure 2
Much of the side wall – and the entire rear – is glass
allowing light to pour into the soaring interior space.

Because the house is semi-detached, with the exposed side wall facing south, there was tremendous potential to take advantage of natural daylight, Rincon said.

Unique Spaces: A Studio 27 Renovation on Capitol Hill: Figure 3
Rear exterior at night.

Architect Hans Kuhn responded with a total interior gut that opened the inside top to bottom, transforming it into a gallery-type space topped with a “light chimney” that creates a breeze from open windows on the lower levels to a skylight above.

“It creates a natural draft,” Rincon said of the chimney, noting that he and Bates have yet to turn on the air conditioning this year. And there is so much natural light, they don’t have to turn on any lights until well after the sun goes down.

“It was all about daylight and openness,” Hans Kuhn said of the project. In addition to skylights, Kuhn added that you can open the back of the house to the yard providing a natural breeze that helps ventilate the entire home.

Attention was also paid to aesthetics. The architects colored a portion of the rear exterior wall orange to match the orange accent inside.

“It fits well with all the wood tones,” Kuhn said.

Unique Spaces: A Studio 27 Renovation on Capitol Hill: Figure 4

From a green standpoint, the water heater is solar-powered, the house is insulated with spray foam as opposed to less-efficient fiber, and all the paint is no-VOC. The HVAC system is one of the most efficient on the market and all the materials used were locally sourced and are renewable, such as bamboo flooring and cabinetry, and concrete countertops.

The kitchen island came from Charlottesville, and was brought to the house in three sections. To get the pieces inside, workers had to use a forklift to haul them over the backyard and through the rear wall.

Rincon's and Bates' lifestyle change was almost as dramatic as the renovation itself. People now stop over frequently with a bottle of wine just to "ooh and aah", Rincon said.

The only project remaining is to finish landscaping in the back, so the men can do more outdoor entertaining.

“Once we’ve got that done, we’ll be perfect,” Rincon told UrbanTurf.

Photographs courtesy of Anice Hoachlander

UrbanTurf contributor Jennifer Sergent is the brains behind the DC By Design blog.

See other articles related to: unique spaces, green real estate dc, dclofts, capitol hill

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/unique_spaces_a_studio_27_renovation_on_capitol_hill/2103


  1. Melissa said at 9:24 pm on Tuesday May 25, 2010:
    Amazing interior! Also, very cool to hear about a "light chimney."
  1. Yvette Hammett said at 9:47 pm on Tuesday May 25, 2010:
    What an awesome re-do, and GREEN! That is absolutely my favorite part!
  1. SimonF said at 11:01 pm on Tuesday May 25, 2010:
    This place looks incredible! Does anyone know the address?
  1. DG Cromwell said at 12:57 pm on Wednesday May 26, 2010:
    property stalkers!
  1. Dom said at 2:33 pm on Wednesday May 26, 2010:
    I'd be curious to know what the total cost of the reno was (including design fees, oversight fees, GC, etc)
  1. ASW said at 3:40 pm on Wednesday May 26, 2010:
    Amazing property...please consider putting the property on one of the local housewalks organized for charity...I'd certainly pay to see the interior of this house!
  1. crystal said at 4:48 am on Thursday May 27, 2010:
    Is this house on the market?
  1. RC Bates said at 3:23 pm on Thursday May 27, 2010:
    Most of what you see is the work of Chris DeHenzel, Hans Kuhn, John Burke and the others at Studio27. The only directions we gave them were to be as green as possible, to change the facade as little as possible, and to move the interior stairway to open up the house. Obviously we made the right decision in selecting Studio27. SimonF: The address is [REDACTED]. Dom: I'll respond to your question soon. ASW: Tell me how, and we'd be happy to show it off. crystal: No, we planned the renovation with the expectation that we would live there, and we have no plans to sell.
  1. MIS said at 4:52 pm on Thursday May 27, 2010:
    Amazing! Excellent taste, gentlemen. Totally inspires me to redo my own Cap Hill house. I would love to visit this house on one of the neighborhood tours.
  1. Crystal said at 12:34 am on Saturday May 29, 2010:
    Do you mind giving me the name of your kitchen designer? And/or the cabinet brand you used.
  1. Jason said at 8:16 pm on Wednesday July 21, 2010:
    @rcbates, could you give a rough estimate on the total costs?
  1. T said at 6:26 pm on Tuesday August 17, 2010:
    A-Maze-ing!! Had the picture up all day and can't stop looking at it
  1. Kurenai said at 4:28 pm on Wednesday February 6, 2013:
    very nice. can you share who the builder was?

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