Hammond Wood is a cohesive example of architect and planner Charles M. Goodman’s innovative approaches to residential design and development in the decades following World War II. He is considered a pioneer in the development of affordable modern houses designed for a wooded suburban context. Goodman rose to prominence and national acclaim as a modernist who sensitively considered the relationship between architecture and landscape in a way that also maintained mass appeal and the confidence of builders and developers. In fact, Goodman was among the first to successfully partner with local developers and to utilize modular plans or “unit types” and prefabricated building components to maximize efficiency and lower costs. The modern idiom that he devised was tailored to freestanding houses that were thoughtfully sited within comprehensively planned subdivisions, providing privacy while also creating meaningful indoor-outdoor connections. These houses were well-suited to middle-class needs and moderately priced through the development of standardized types. While the house sizes were not expansive, ranging from 936 to 2,500 square feet, Goodman’s innovative open plans and unfolding spaces gave a sense of real spaciousness. Using the term “tomorrow’s vernacular” Goodman anticipated that his modern designs would become a familiar aspect of the suburban landscape.
Goodman developed a method for producing the standardized modular construction fundamental to his designs while working for the Supervising Architect of the Treasury during World War II. He started with three “unit types” that included a split-level for sloped sites; a one-story, rectangular slab-on-grade, and a larger, two-story version. To avoid the monotony inherent in prefabricated housing, Goodman eventually expanded to nine unit types and included additional variations. Other distinctive features included contrasting materials such as stone, sizeable brick chimneys, wood, and glass, including the use of transparent glass walls to embrace the outdoors. Goodman’s flexible approach to planning also included placing the living spaces on the second floor and the bedrooms on the first. Standardized units—window units, roof trusses, and doors—were also fabricated on site to add to the affordability of the house. These and other economies of construction Goodman pioneered led to him being dubbed a “production house architect.”
Goodman cemented his reputation for affordable, progressive design in the Washington area in the late 1940s with the expansive Hollin Hills development in Fairfax County, Virginia, the success of which led to commissions elsewhere in the metropolitan area, including Hammond Wood. Developed and built by Paul Hammond and Paul Burman, Hammond Wood exemplifies Goodman’s vision of modern residential development. The fifty-eight houses were positioned on irregular lots circumscribed by the gentle curve of the main spine (Pendleton Drive) and a series of shallow cul-de-sacs, all of which responded to varied topography and stands of existing trees. The simply massed dwellings have shallow-pitched gable roofs with exterior walls that contrast with sections of wood siding, expanses of unbroken brick, and window walls with floor-to-ceiling glazing. The five model types featured two or three bedrooms, a full bathroom, and an open plan living-dining area and screened kitchen workspace arranged on one or two levels. Many of the two-level houses had a full story on the upper level with at-grade or partially below-grade lower levels that were left unfinished at the time of construction with suggested future divisions for recreation and storage/utility rooms and an additional bedroom and bathroom.
Lampl, Elizabeth Jo. “Charles M. Goodman and ‘Tomorrow's Vernacular.’” In Housing Washington: Two Centuries of Residential Development and Planning in the National Capital Area, edited by Richard Longstreth, 229-253. Chicago: Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago, 2010.
Musgrave, Dorothea, “Hammond Wood Historic District,” Montgomery County, Maryland. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, 1996. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC.