2021 | Professional

MUSE Design Awards Silver Winner

Downtown Loft

Entrant Company

Bushman Dreyfus Architects


Interior Design - Residential

Client's Name

West Cote Properties, LLC

Country / Region

United States

Light is the theme of this minimal and modern intervention. The oldest building on the downtown pedestrian mall in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, contains this minimal and modern renovation. The c.1843 three-story structure was badly in need of refurbishment — portions of framing, roof, insulation, windows, mechanical systems, electrical and plumbing were replaced so the building is set for service for another century or more.

What was dark commercial space with claustrophobic offices and an enclosed storage attic is now transformed into a single spacious open floor apartment with sleeping loft. Transparency from front to back is a key design intent, establishing visual access to the street trees in front and sunlight in the back. Multiple modes of direct and indirect natural lighting animate the space.

A single scaled up cabinet "box" with hidden hardware, secret doors and rooms runs nearly the entire 50-foot length of the floor and conceals the kitchen, bathroom, services and storage. All kitchen appliances disappear when not in use. Doors to the left and right of the work surface open fully for access to a wall oven and refrigerator. The wood cladding is rough sawn white oak with a light stain. The floor planks are also white oak, keeping the color and material palette to a minimum.

A window-like opening through the oak volume frames a view of the original brick wall, offering a dramatic counterpoint of texture and color. The backsplash is completely open to a stair leading to the apartment vestibule below. In the kitchen’s opening, a low-profile stainless steel trough with electrical outlets runs along the edge of the counter.

A south-facing floor-to-ceiling sheet of glass brings borrowed light into the bathroom from the skylight above the apartment entry stair.

The sleeping loft stair is both foreground and background, heavy and light, transparent and opaque. The white guardrail is a single 3/8” thick steel plate. The treads and risers are folded perforated steel.

Seven new skylights fill the space with natural light. New double pane windows maximize the daylight openings and ensure better energy performance.


Partner in Charge - Bushman Dreyfus Architects
Jeff Bushman
Project Designer - Bushman Dreyfus Architects
Aga Saulle
Structural Engineer - Dunbar Milby Williams Pittman & Vaughan
Steve Barber
General Contractor - Longview Management & Construction Co.
Miner Wilcox
Photography - Virginia Hamrick Photography
Virginia Hamrick
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