Francisca Villarroel Alonso and Antonio Alonso both hail from Spain—but they met while studying architecture at Catholic University. After graduating, they married and pursued separate careers, then ended up pooling their talent in 2001 when they founded AV Architects, pllc. Within a couple of years, however, they realized they wanted more control over their designs in the construction phase of each project. At that point, they launched AV Architects + Builders—a full-scale renovation and custom-home construction company with architects and builders under one roof. “There are a lot of design/build companies,” Francisca points out, “but very few are headed by architects rather than builders. We have created an unusual niche.”
The Alonsos see many benefits to the way their firm does business. Among them is the sense that having an architect in the field during the building phase adds another level of value for the client. “We control costs during design and protect the design during construction,” Francisca explains. Adds Tony, “No one understands the design better than the designer. We’re the ones who can make necessary changes during construction without compromising the design’s intent.”
Over the years, AV Architects + Builders has developed a style of its own, rooted in the traditional European vernacular each partner experienced while growing up in Spain. “It’s a hybrid of traditional and modern. We use traditional materials like wood and stone that are warm and appealing, but add a modern touch in terms of design,” Francisca explains. “We offer modern floor plans that are in alignment with the lifestyles of our clients.” Open layouts, clean lines and lots of glass characterize the interiors of projects by AV Architects.
An example of this aesthetic is currently represented by a soon-to-be-completed spec home in McLean, Virginia, the couple has dubbed the “360 Home.” The idea was hatched after the Alonsos had completed numerous renovations in which they had to “solve the problems of traditional homes.” These included layouts in which there was unused space in the house, poor flow, an under-utilized yard and more. “Francisca had a list of the top 20 issues we needed to solve,” says Tony. “So we created a design that would address them.”
Measuring more than 10,000 square feet, with 2,000 square feet of pre-designed outdoor space, the 360 Home boasts an open-plan layout. Staircases are located at the ends of the house instead of in the middle to eliminate dead space, and only three doors—two to the bathrooms and one to the library—separate the ground-floor spaces from one another. The airy design emphasizes easy living, both for family and entertaining purposes; a functional, casual vibe; a seamless flow to a host of outdoor spaces that include balconies, patios, a grotto and a pool; natural materials like stone, wood, metal and glass; a low-voltage LED lighting system; and Control 4 home automation.
The 360 Home is a prototype; buyers can choose from other, similar designs. The house is currently on the market for $3.5 million.
Facts & Stats
In addition to its founders, AV Architects + Builders employs six staff members, including designers and administrators. The Alonsos personally oversee each project.
The firm completes four to six projects per year. Twenty percent of them are custom homes and the rest are renovations. Most are located in Northern Virginia.
Francisca Villarroel Alonso, CEO, and Antonio Alonso, AIA, AV Architects + Builders, 1650 Tysons Boulevard, #1580, McLean, Virginia 22102; 703-865-5065; avarchitectsbuild.com