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Jane Couser Barton House

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John C. Dreier House
1977, Hugh Newell Jacobsen. 2927 University Terrace NW
  • Jane Couser Barton House (John C. Dreier House) (Franz Jantzen)

The Dreier House is composed of four staggered, single-story Cape Cod cottages (recalling the smallest houses in the game of Monopoly), pristine in the clarity of their separate geometries as well as the starkness of their black and white materials. Although anchored on the ridge of a steep incline, from the street the house seems to hover slightly above grade, as the walls meet the barely elevated decks or the ground at sharp right angles. Jacobsen's definition of a house as a series of interconnected rooms, each clearly expressed formally on the exterior, is fostered in this case by his choice of a vernacular prototype. This compartmentalization and fusion of exterior form and interior space is a heritage of his education in the 1950s at Yale University under Louis Kahn.

Organization of the units along a diagonal was dictated by the triangular site but turned to advantage in the lighting of each room, where a single window, or sliding glass door, suffices for each facade. Jacobsen's own structural vocabulary, the line formed by hidden gutters or triangular transom windows set flush with wall surfaces, is critical to his absolute mastery of proportion.

Writing Credits

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee



  • 1977


What's Nearby


Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "Jane Couser Barton House", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 397-397.

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