Architecture People & Places


Robert M. Gurney Architect - House in Lewes, Delaware

308 Mulberry Street in Lewes, Delaware, by Robert M. Gurney Architect. Photo: Maxwell MacKenzie

Robert M. Gurney Architect redesigned and significantly expanded the house at 308 Mulberry Street in Lewes, Delaware, to create a luxury residential compound that emphasizes outdoor living. The original one- and three-story shingled home has neoclassical proportions and detailing that has been meticulously restored. Four outbuildings are located in the rear of the home and, together with the main house, enclose three sides of an outdoor living space dominated by a patio and swimming pool.

The building was a recipient of the 2013 AIA national Small Project Awards in the  category.

Looking from the breezeway along the living pavilion toward the historic dwelling. Photo: Maxwell MacKenzie
Besides a formal entry and classic double-angle stair, the three levels of the historic home contain the bedrooms and their supporting spaces. A large master suite occupies around two-thirds of the ground floor, with french doors that open onto the rear patio. Two modest bedrooms and a bathroom are found on the second level.

And tucked under the main gable is a fourth bedroom with an all-glass interior end wall, two skylights overlooking the back yard, and with bathroom functions split into two small adjoining spaces.

The top-floor bedroom of 308 Mulberry Street. Photo: Maxwell MacKenzie

The new buildings mimmic the historic home's proportions and share a common material palette, but their finish is decidedly more modern, with extensive glazing and crisp, minimalist detailing.

The largest of the additions contains a grand family space beneath its vaulted and skylit gable ceiling, providing informal living, dining and kitchen spaces, and overlooking the rear patio. It is connected to the main house by a glazed passageway just a few feet long.

Inside the living pavilion. Photo: Maxwell MacKenzie

Two smaller pavilions, linked to the first by covered breezeway, respectively contain another, more private, living space over looking the pool, and a bathroom. Behind this ensemble, a fourth outbuilding serves as an exercise space.

The patio of 308 Mulberry. Photo: Maxwell MacKenzie

Jury Comments
"This is a great tribute to the original architecture. Has an ephemeral quality that makes it ambiguous and attractive. 
"Modern spaces that very skillfully work together with a contextual street-front house. A series of distinctly articulated pavilions provide beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces. The interior's ceilings embrace the spirit of vernacular architecture and the excitement of modern light and airy living. This project is contextual, sleek and very well grounded. The tight compound of interconnected pavilions is a highly successful design strategy. 
The master bedroom viewed from the patio doors. Photo: Maxwell MacKenzie

"A demanding redesign that respectfully preserves the original architecture, while artfully transforming the home. There is a calm, logical quality to this design that is not easily attained. Additionally, a smart use of scale and light makes this home all the more award worthy. 
"Traditional architectural forms so often fall into nostalgic iterations of bygone eras without acknowledging the material advances that have been made, the economic changes that have come to bear, and the societal preferences that have evolved over decades and centuries. Modern architecture also frequently discards the timeless aspects of tradition that should truly be revered and respected. This project brings together those timeless aspects of tradition with the sensibilities that reflect this time in a striking composition of form and space. Detailing is highly refined such that systems are subverted to space and surface, and the occupant can truly enjoy the richness of the spaces both interior and exterior."

Project Credits
  • Architect: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA,
  • Project Architect: Brian Tuskey
  • Contractor: Ilex Construction
  • Interior Designer: Therese Baron Gurney, ASID Baron Gurney Interiors
  • Landscape Designer: South Fork Studio
  • Engineer: D. Anthony Beale LLC

Looking across the pool at the main living pavilion. Photo: Maxwell MacKenzie

"After" floor plan drawings. Image: Robert M. Gurney Architect
"Before" floor plan drawings. Image: Robert M. Gurney Architect

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