Along a winding road in bucolic Southern Albemarle County, a house designed by WG Clark is for sale. Built in 2005, the trademark concrete block, glass, and copper clad house is set in a forest clearing straddling the edge of a slope – a “found” site condition – and is a classic Clark design move. His houses always seem to occupy an edge or get bisected by a slot, a path, an entry, or a chimney – often all combined to emphasize a clear distinction between “public” and “private” space. Like other Clark houses, the living space is the primary room; two stories tall (and often as one quadrant of the plan) with bedrooms, kitchen/dining, and utility space occupying the rim. The slightly off of center entry is beautifully imperfect, intentionally shifted and recessed for protection, and allows room for a solid concrete block corbelled wall to anchor the visual mass of the chimney offset from the interior fireplace. Though he worked for Robert Venturi, Louis Kahn left a strong impression upon Clark in his formative years.
I’ve often wondered if WG Clark intentionally designs his houses to become beautiful ruins one day. Like Kahn, his work evokes both the ancient and the modern – one setting off the other.