The Essential Guide to Modern Architecture

The Marden House of McLean, Virginia designed in 1959 by Frank Lloyd Wright.

From Frank Lloyd Wright’s majestic Falling Water to Philip Johnson’s legendary Glass House, modern architecture has captured the world’s imagination.

But what is modernism and how is modern architecture represented in the Washington Metropolitan Area?

To help answer these questions, we turn to Ron Mangas Jr., Vice President at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty and one of Washington Metropolitan Area’s leading experts in modern architecture.

How does modern architecture differ from contemporary architecture? 

To understand modern architecture, it’s important to first differentiate it from contemporary architecture.

Take, for example, a colonial style home built in Virginia during the 1800s; during its construction, this home may have been considered contemporary given the materials available, the functional needs of the owner, and the social and cultural tastes of the time.  Put another way, a contemporary home can be referenced in context with the present.

Explore Modern and Contemporary Homes For Sale in the Washington Metropolitan Area »

Modern architecture, however, adheres to the underlying principals and philosophies established by legendary architects in the early 1900s, such as, Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius.

Introduced at a time of significant economic, cultural, and technological change, the modernist movement was a reaction to a new industrial reality and the radical possibilities it presented not only for architecture, but for society as a whole.

The Glass House of New Canaan, Connecticut designed in 1949 by Philip Johnson. Image courtesy of Architect Magazine.

Through the 1940s, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright was pioneering his idea of organic architecture, a philosophy which promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world. In practice, organic architecture manifests itself in the choice of building materials and its overt consideration for the topology, climate, and atmosphere of the building site.

Though elements such as concrete, glass, and steel are traditionally associated with the early modern homes, such as those designed by Le Corbusier, stone and wood inspire modern masterpieces such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Talisien West.

Who are the most famous modern architects?

Le Corbusier is considered a leading pioneer of the modern movement.

With the construction of La Maison Blanche in 1912, Le Corbusier explored technical principals that were later applied with deliberate, abstract, aesthetic expressions that we now associate with modern design around the world.

With Villa Savoye, built in 1931, Le Corbusier demonstrates a fully developed modernist aesthetic that is a pinnacle example of the early modernist movement.

Who are the best modern architects in the Washington Metropolitan Area?

The Washington Metropolitan Area is home to some of the most revered modern architects in the United States, including: Travis Price, Mark McInturff, Robert M. Gurney, David Jameson, Salo Levinas, Hugh & Simon Jacobsen, and Jim Burton.

Robert M. Gurney, a master of modern design, is renowned for his ability to reinterpret existing structures with modern design principles (even through renovation).

Travis Price could be considered the Washington Metropolitan Area’s most prominent organic architect. A master of integrating structures into their natural landscape, Price is able to apply near spiritual connections to the site through materials and natural exposures.

A master of organic architecture, this Travis Price home in Washington, D.C. offers bold views of Rock Creek Park.

Jim Burton, another purveyor of organic architecture, is best known for his work in rural Virginia.

Yet, of all modern architects in the Washington Metropolitan Area, Hugh Newell Jacobson is perhaps the most iconic. A pupil of Philip Johnson and mentor to local architects such as Robert Gurney and Mark McInturff, Jacobson is considered one of the Washington Metropolitan Area’s most influential modern architects.

What is the market for modern homes in the Washington Metropolitan Area?

At the moment, there is a very narrow market for true modern architecture in the Washington Metropolitan Area.

For those seeking a modern home, there are a few ground rules.

First, it’s not uncommon to find modern homes that are in less than desirable condition. While modern homes are often regarded for their unique aesthetic, some have fallen into disrepair and may require significant renovations to restore to their original form. 

With the exception of Hollin Hills in Alexandria, Virginia and Lake Barcroft in Falls Church, Virginia, there are only a few clusters of modern homes in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Rather, many of the region’s modern homes were built as standalone projects catered to the original owner’s specifications. As a result, committed buyers should be more flexible in location.

The Greene Residence of Easton, Maryland designed in 1992 by Hugh Newell Jacobsen.

For owners of a modern home, it’s wise to consult with specialists before bringing your home to market.

While it’s always wise to consult with a neighborhood expert when selling your home, it’s common for truly unique homes to be co-listed with another agent who can articulate the nuances of modern design principals, architecture, and materials — a critical role when trying to find the right buyer and managing expectations for the property’s continued use.

As the owner of a modern home, it’s critical to partner with architects and other design specialists who can provide insights about pricing for renovations and future needs for home maintenance.

As we move away from true “modern” homes and into more contemporary homes with modern elements,  your agent’s ability to help  envision and execute a modern renovation is critical.

About Ron Mangas Jr.

Ron Mangas, Jr. is known for his significant knowledge of modern architecture and the artistic and cultural movements that gave rise to new forms of domestic styles in the United States.

Throughout the course of his real estate practice, Mr. Mangas has worked to educate his clients regarding the historical antecedents of the styles of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Mr. Mangas focused his practice on the listing and sale of modern and contemporary residential architecture in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. He has also had the honor of working with some of the best-known architects including Travis Price, FAIA., Jim Burton, AIA., Mark McInturff, FAIA., David Cooper, FAIA., and Robert Gurney, FAIA.


TTR Sotheby’s International Realty is a licensed real estate brokerage in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

A Washington, D.C. Penthouse That Offers Luxury Living on a Grand Scale

Condominium for Sale at 2660 Connecticut Ave Nw #6c 2660 Connecticut Ave Nw #6c Washington, District Of Columbia 20008 United States
The stunning living room designed by Akseizer Design Group. Photo courtesy of Lauren Meltzer.

The extraordinary new residences at Wardman Tower define the highest levels of craftsmanship and convenience.

Set along Washington, D.C.’s iconic Connecticut Avenue, Wardman Tower offers breathtaking views of the nation’s capital and a rare, private setting for contemporary urban living.

Schedule a Tour of 2660 Connecticut Avenue NW #6C, Washington, D.C. »

Condominium for Sale at 2660 Connecticut Ave Nw #6c 2660 Connecticut Ave Nw #6c Washington, District Of Columbia 20008 United States
A sun-filled bedroom at Wardman Tower. Photo courtesy of Lauren Meltzer.

Of its 32 luxury condominiums, the penthouse residence at Wardman Tower offers luxury living on a grand scale.

Designed by Akseizer Design Group, this extraordinary penthouse residence features bespoke interiors and timelines architectural details, including custom crown moulding and exquisite wide oak floors.

2660 Connecticut Avenue NW #6C presented by TTR Sotheby's International Realty
Stunning bathrooms at Wardman Tower. Photo courtesy of Lauren Meltzer.

The bathrooms are outfitted with custom designed stone flooring, hand painted vanities, and polished chrome hardware, while the stunning kitchen — created with the chef in mind — features Thermador appliances, Penalquartz countertops, Danby marble backsplashes, and custom Henrybuilt oak cabinetry.

Wardman Tower is presented by Christopher Ritzert and Christie-Anne Weiss of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.


TTR Sotheby’s International Realty is a licensed real estate brokerage in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

The Contemporary Listings Group of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty Presents the 2018 DC Metro Modern Home Tour

The Contemporary Listings Group of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty is pleased to announce the 2018 DC Metro Modern Home Tour.

In partnership with the Modern Architecture Design Society, the DC Metro Modern Home Tour is the nation’s premiere modern home tour, connecting architects, designers, and homeowners from across the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Purchase Tickets to the 2018 DC Metro Modern Home Tour » 

Presented by The Contemporary Listings Group of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, the DC Metro Modern Home Tour is a self-guided tour of several modern homes throughout the Washington Metropolitan Area, offering a remarkable look at amazing architecture as well as a chance to learn from the creative minds who designed them.

“We are thrilled about this year’s tour,” says Ron Mangas Jr., Vice President at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty and Founder of The Contemporary Listings Group.

“After the success of our inaugural tour in 2017, we are anticipating a tremendous reception in 2018. We partnered with MA+DS to create a tour that would celebrate the contemporary homes in our region, and we have seen incredible enthusiasm in response. We are so grateful for the homeowners who are sharing their homes, and to the incredible architects and designers showcasing their work. This is an opportunity for the public to learn more about the brilliant possibilities of residential architecture around Metropolitan Washington D.C.”

The 2018 DC Metro Modern Home Tour takes place on Saturday, October 6th from 11:00 AM EST — 5:00 PM EST.


TTR Sotheby’s International Realty is a licensed real estate brokerage in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

Step Inside A Spacious Residence in McLean, Virginia

Single Family Home for Sale at 886 Chinquapin Rd 886 Chinquapin Rd McLean, Virginia 22102 United States
The breathtaking pool faces a large backyard.

McLean, Virginia is considered one of the most desirable communities in the United States.

Offering a serene, natural setting just outside the nation’s capitol, it’s no wonder McLean, Virginia is home to some of the Washington Metropolitan Area’s most extraordinary properties.

Single Family Home for Sale at 886 Chinquapin Rd 886 Chinquapin Rd McLean, Virginia 22102 United States
A stately entrance.

Built in 2003, this stunning 18,000 square foot estate located off of Old Dominion Drive offers over 5 acres of lush landscaped greens overlooking Great Falls National Park.

Learn More About 866 Chinquapin Road, McLean, Virginia »

Featuring a heated pool, tennis court, and terraced stone patios, this stunning residence offers ample room for both private living and entertaining on a grand scale.

Single Family Home for Sale at 886 Chinquapin Rd 886 Chinquapin Rd McLean, Virginia 22102 United States
An inspiring living room for entertaining on a grand sacle.

The interior inspires as vaulted ceilings, wood burning fireplaces, and handsome hardwood floors compliment luxury amenities including a gourmet kitchen, billiards room, and study.

886 Chinquapin Road is presented by Tracy Shively of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.


TTR Sotheby’s International Realty is a licensed real estate brokerage in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

TTR Sotheby’s International Realty Introduces Emmy Award Winning Storyteller Will Thomas

Will Thomas of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.

TTR Sotheby’s International Realty is pleased to welcome Will Thomas.

An Emmy Award Winning Broadcast Journalist, Thomas joins TTR Sotheby’s International Realty after a successful career at Washington, D.C.’s Fox 5.

A member of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty’s Georgetown brokerage, Thomas served as one of the Washington Metropolitan Area’s most trusted news anchors for 20 years and has an unparalleled knowledge of the local marketplace.

In addition, Thomas will manage a digital news studio that will focus on luxury real estate news, including new and extraordinary real estate listings, trends in real estate financing and design, and an insider’s look into the Washington Metropolitan Area’s philanthropic community.

“Today, luxury real estate is about telling a story and communicating with the largest pool of prospective clients,”  says Mark C. Lowham, CEO and Managing Partner of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. “Will Thomas understands the power of our media platform and we are honored to welcome him to the family.”


TTR Sotheby’s International Realty is a licensed real estate brokerage in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.