Columns Opinion Uncategorized — 25 April 2013
Alexandria architect leaves his mark

A recent addition to the Virginia Landmarks Register is the International-style Charles M. Goodman House, which sits along North Quaker Lane in Alexandria.

Goodman was an influential American architect, educated at the Illinois Institute of Technology, who came to the Washington area in 1934 as a design professional with the Public Buildings Administration. He developed the original terminal building at Reagan National Airport and later worked for the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Air Transport Command.

After World War II he founded Charles M. Goodman Associates, which went on to build homes, office parks, churches and schools in the region. But it is his influential, mid-20th century housing designs in the Modernist aesthetic that has garnered the most acclaim. He participated in the creation of many residential developments around Washington, such as Hammond Wood and Rock Creek Woods in Montgomery County as well as the famous Hollin Hills development in Fairfax County, where he designed 14 distinct styles for the 450 homes built.

He eschewed the Colonial reproduction housing designs then popular in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, espousing instead a contemporary unity between exterior and interior spaces and integration into the environmental setting for each residence he built. Many of his residential projects are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1946, Goodman purchased a Victorian home along North Quaker Lane, built about 1870, and began to modify and enlarge the house in the modern idiom, using an open floor plan, natural lighting and nontraditional building materials. Among his innovations was the extensive use of glass to form floor-to-ceiling window walls. By framing the vast outdoors, views from interior spaces provided a bucolic sense of openness and isolation, a calmness and harmony with nature that contrasted sharply to the relentless march of suburbanization just beyond.

Goodman, who died in 1992, became the Washington area’s foremost modern designer of middle-class buildings and high-end custom homes during the post-war period, often experimenting with revolutionary design principles at his home in Alexandria.
Out of the Attic is 
provided by the 
Office of Historic Alexandria.

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