Grid Architects designed a home to take advantage of its dramatic location on a narrow ridge overlooking the Potomac River in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

Ask the Pros: Architecture

Advice on designing the perfect home by the bay

What factors do you consider when siting a house so that its natural surroundings are paramount?
Our approach to siting a house is always based on the particulars of that site. Our goal is for the home to feel rooted, inevitable, timeless. We search for aspects of the site that stimulate creativity, whether they be views, topography, landscape features or micro-climate factors like prominent winds, harsh sun, extreme temperatures or precipitation. Often, aspects of the site that might be considered limiting—a narrow lot or extreme slope, for example—become a point of departure for a beautiful architectural response.

Sustainability is critical. Pursuing passive strategies, such as the orientation of a house relative to the sun’s path, can save both first and life-cycle costs. Passive strategies can easily rival mechanical or electrical systems. —Alick Dearie, AIA, NCARB, LEED BD+C, Grid Architects PC, Annapolis, Maryland.

Builder: Joseph Braun, No Worries Carpentry, Great Cacapon, West Virginia.