Discover Bethesda, Maryland...365 Days a Year!

Day 57: The Borg Lands in Bethesda.

Edgemoor Contemporary

The year is 2365 and The Federation Starfleet has just encountered the first Borg spaceship. But wait,  I believe there was an earlier encounter here in Bethesda in 2007.  I affectionately call the home built in Edgemoor”The Borg” house after the cubed fictional alien spacecraft first encountered in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Love it or hate it you have to admire the guts to build it in Edgemoor, one of Bethesda’s most affluent and exclusive neighborhoods.  Quite simply there is nothing like it in the classic, predominately colonial style, luxury home subdivision.

Here’s the back-story to this really cool, ultra-modern, contemporary style home.  The owner wanted to build a house free of the constraints of the past, modern and forward-looking.  He hired renowned local architect and award-winning contemporary home genius, Robert Gurney, FAIA to design his new home.  The home is the antithesis of the McMansion.  In stark contrast to the über super-sized homes being built today, that strive to maximize the size of the house by stretching the zoning limits, this home was built with a minimal 1,100 sq. ft. footprint on the flat lot (occupying less space than the previous mid-century dwelling that was previously there).  The home also incorporates many “green” homebuilding strategies and concepts as well.  I’ve been reading a fascinating book recently called The Oral History of Modern Architecture by John Peter (the father of Molly Peter, an accomplished fellow real estate agent and friend of mine) and it reminded me about this home.  The book is about the birth and impact of modern architecture and the nexus of technology, society and art on our buildings in the words of the men who pioneered the movement. So much of our housing in Bethesda is rooted in very old traditional ideas about architecture.  The colonial, the cape-cod, and much of our new construction is just a further extrapolation of these old principles.  This house represents a stark departure from all that came before it.  Housing as we know it is undergoing a major transformation today as we begin to strive to build homes that are in harmony with our environment, efficient in terms of energy and water usage, and represent good stewardship of our natural resources.  The “Green” movement is a revolution in building as influential, in my opinion, as the modern architecture movement.

The Borg

New ideas are often vehemently rejected at first and change can be difficult to accept.  The contractor who built “The Borg” house told me that they had to replace the large plate-glass windows on several occasions during construction because of vandalism from area residents upset with the radical design.  This house is less than one block from the urban landscape of Bethesda.  How radical is a cube when there are cube-like offices so close by?  Like the crew of the Starship Enterprise we are encountering new housing ideas and housing “life forms.”  Just because the designs are unfamiliar we need not reject them.  We need to be open to new ideas and concepts.  The Borg race “assimilated” technology from the races they encountered.  We need to assimilate new technologies and concepts into our homes.  The future of our species will depend on how well we apply new technology, adapt and preserve our limited natural resources and live in harmony with, not only each other, but our fragile planet as well.  Pile the kids in the car and drive them by this futuristic home.

~ Brian

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