Townhouse With a Twist

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One of the knocks against townhouse design is the predictability of most floor plans.

October 01, 2001


The primary benefit of the Miller and Smith innovation is dramatically different room sizes and shapes. There is also a dramatic increase in natural light.

One of the knocks against townhouse design is the predictability of most floor plans. This was not lost on McLean, Va.-based Miller and Smith as it contemplated a 116-unit project in the growing high-tech corridor of Loudon County, Va. The firm and its architect, Randy Creaser of Creaser/O’Brien Architects, found that by turning the rear portions of each unit 27 degrees, important benefits followed:

  • A net gain in natural light because each rear had three walls for windows.
  • A huge increase in drama and visual interest in those spaces.
  • Most interesting, a swath of these rear rooms is 25 feet wide even though the lot size is only 22 feet.

Miller and Smith broke the mold of townhouse design by incorporating a 27-degree turn into the rear of its units at the Broadlands.

“That is the magic,” says Miller and Smith marketing vice president Rhonda Ellisor, who built a whole campaign around the innovation. The model names are Merlin, Houdini I and Houdini II.

Sales of the product at the Broadlands community have averaged four per month since opening in January despite substantial price increases. Large units that once sold for $249,000 are moving at $290,000. Ellisor points out that early planning was crucial because the zigzagged lot lines required special approvals.

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