Husband-and-wife architects Francisca and Antonio Alonso first formed Great Falls, Virginia-based AV Architects in 2001. By 2003, they had made a discovery. “We realized we were leaving our clients hanging after the design phase,” relates Francisca. “We wanted to control the construction phase of their projects as well.” They formed AV Builders with this goal in mind, later combining the two companies.
In the beginning, renovations of traditional homes were the firm’s bread and butter—not surprising, since the DC area is chock-a-block with traditional architecture. Today, however, the architect-led design/build firm focuses on new construction that is primarily contemporary in style.
“We prefer designing with a modern aesthetic,” explains Tony. “It goes beyond the popular trend of designing open floor plans in traditional homes. We have found there’s a need for contemporary architecture, which lends itself to today’s lifestyles. Our clients now are asking for a more modern look, both inside and out.”
Homes by AV Architects + Builders focus on clean lines; simple geometry; integrated indoor and outdoor spaces; and lots of glass to bring the outdoors in. Eschewing the notion that modern design often means spare, cold interiors, the architects strive to bring a sense of warmth and intimacy to the homes they build. “We scale our projects so that the rooms are proportionate to the human body,” Francisca notes. “For instance, we don’t design cavernous, two-story spaces that tend to feel over-sized and can be hard to make welcoming. Instead, we use 10-foot ceilings that lend a feeling of coziness.”
AV Architects + Builders also emphasizes functionality and ease of living. “People don’t want to come home after a stressful day and feel more stressed out by to-do lists,” Francisca says. The architects prefer materials such as wood- or stone-look porcelain tile over actual stone and wood because they are easier to maintain yet look like the real thing. Long-lasting, low-maintenance Nichiha, a commercial-grade fiber-cement material imported from Japan, is their frequent choice for exterior cladding as it comes in numerous large-format styles and looks.
In fact, easy living is a theme for AV Architects + Builders, which promotes “vacation-style living” at home as a philosophy and incorporates universal elements into all its designs. Another philosophy is that dynamic, contemporary homes with functional, comfortable spaces should be readily available in the DC area. Says Tony Alonso, “We want to make great modern architecture available for everyone.”
FACTS & STATS
AV Architects + Builders encompasses six team members building three to four custom homes per year in Northern Virginia. 9903 Georgetown Pike, Suite 201, Great Falls, Virginia 22066. 703-865-5065; avarchitectsbuild.com