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The Best Residential Architects and Designers in Arlington, Virginia

18 Min Read

Situated just minutes away from the nation’s capital, Arlington is home to several vital government offices and a number of prestigious universities. It offers its residents all the excitement of a metropolitan space: various commercial spaces, bars, coffee shops, and exciting restaurants make it a happening spot. So it’s no surprise that many professionals and politically left-leaning young people call the city home. Arlington home styles vary from the latest modern and contemporary themes to the most extravagant and classic designs.

This list compiles 15 of the best residential architects in Arlington. They were chosen based on merit, work history, professional affiliations, and previous projects. Several of these firms offer unique services and incorporate innovative solutions into their designs that they exclusively offer. A handful of the firms on this list are the prestigious architects behind some of the area’s most recognizable and award-winning homes.

This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who can both design stunning homes but differ in other services offered. Architects are trained in design, engineering, and project management and have passed a licensing exam. Residential designers typically don’t manage projects and plans will need to be approved by a structural engineer. Whether you choose to hire an architect or a residential designer will depend on your project needs and complexity.

If you are thinking about building a custom home, we recommend checking each builder’s license with the local licensing board, speaking to past clients, and using our bidding system to get competitive quotes from at least 3 contractors. Getting multiple bids is the best way to ensure you get a fair price and that bids include the complete scope of work. On the other hand, if you want to learn more about the cost of building a custom home in Arlington, check out our cost guide article.

Ballard + Mensua Architecture

5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW Suite #370, Washington DC, 20016

Established in 2005, Ballard + Mensua offers a full range of architectural services and is best known for its unique custom homes and renovations. The firm employs a unique cost study process similar to the design-build approach. Through this fully integrated project management procedure, clients can count on the firm’s excellent command of construction management and interior design. And all of the firm’s designs are both contractor and client-friendly. The firm details specifics into its work for each contractor’s reference. The firm also takes on historic preservations and has been distinguished as the area’s “Best Architect” in 2016 by Arlington Magazine. Its Cleveland Park Project was also chosen as “Residential Project of the Year” by Home and Design in 2017. 

As for its designs, the firm’s portfolio showcases an extensive gallery of contemporary, Georgian, colonial, and craftsman homes. The project featured below depicts one of its classic craftsman projects. The team opted for a neutral color palette, turrets, and several fine custom finishes.  

BarnesVanze Architects

1000 Potomac St. NW Suite L-2, Washington, DC 20007

Headquartered in Washington DC’s historic Georgetown, BarnesVanze Architects has been in the industry since 1989 and is manned by a team of 23 members. Together, they specialize in an extensive range of historic and traditional designs for a variety of markets. In addition to its residential single-family homes, the firm’s portfolio depicts a number of commercial, institutional, and ecclesiastic projects built across the United States and in six other countries. It is led by its principals Wayne Adams, Melanie Giordano, Ellen Hatton, Michael Patrick, and founders Anthony Barnes and Stephen Vanze. They all ensure that each project the firm takes on receives the benefit of their experience. This collective leadership has resulted in several noteworthy distinctions. The firm is the proud recipient of the John Russell Pope Award from the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art and just this year alone, has had its work published in the pages of Architectural Digest, Home & Design, and Southern Home Magazine.

Photo by Anice Hoachlander

The project below best embodies the firm’s work. Located in Northwest Washington, this home was designed with a traditional exterior, then infused with clean lines and several modern details. You can see this innovative combination in the home’s large bleached mahogany windows and doors, iron pergolas, and portico.  This beautiful home was built by Michael banks and owes its interior design to Ally Banks.

Christian Zapatka Architect

1656 33rd St.,  NW Washington, DC 20007

Extending its services throughout the Washington metropolitan area, Christian Zapatka Architect is an award-winning firm best known for its residential work. Often distinguished by its ability to incorporate modern and traditional elements, the firm consistently renders classic, timeless structures. Aside from its new home designs, it also takes on home additions and large-scale renovations. The firm has worked on over a hundred projects since its inception in 2000 and has been distinguished with numerous prestigious accolades and press mentions. Most notably, its work has graced the pages of publications like Architectural Digest, Beautiful Homes, and Home & Design. At its helm is its namesake Christian Zapatka, a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Fellow of The American Academy in Rome. He was most recently named as a “top designer” by Home & Design and has led his firm to great heights.

Showcased below is one of the firm’s best. Here you see Christian Zapatka’s ability to bring the modern and traditional together: observe the home’s unique curves and straight lines coupled with concrete and stucco exteriors.   

Cunningham | Quill Architects

1054 31st St. NW Suite 3315, Washington, D.C. 20007

Cunningham | Quill Architects offers a wide range of professional architectural, community planning, and urban design services. The firm is located in Washington’s historic Georgetown area and tailor fits its approach to best accommodate each project it takes on. The firm provides an extensive examination of every facet of a particular project before deciding whether or not to adapt to its site and context. Sometimes the site demands an innovative, alternative solution. The firm was founded in 1996 by Ralph Cunningham, FAIA and Lee Quill, FAIA. Together, they brought five decades of experience to their clients. Under their leadership, the firm has secured a solid reputation for itself and has been recognized multiple times with several accolades during its years in the industry. It was most recently distinguished with a 2017 Award of Merit from AIA and a preservation accolade from the 2016 DC Preservation League 45th Anniversary Awards.

Located in Bluemont, Virginia, the featured project is divided between the forest and the meadow. Inside, a large living room provides wonderful views of the meadow, flows into the kitchen and dining room, and leads to a screened porch and a master bedroom suite. The home also has its own office and exercise area above. The residence serves as a vacation home and is powered by sustainable energy when not in use through LED lighting, photovoltaic panels, and a solar pool heater.       

Donald Lococo Architects

3413 1/2 M St. NW Suite A, Washington, DC 20007

Donald Lococo Architects focuses on single-family homes and additions and uses a highly personalized process for each of its clients. The firm is well-versed in an extensive variety of architectural styles that encompass both contemporary and historical themes. The firm is personally led by its founder and namesake Donald Lococo, who has had the privilege of being invited to judge competitions for the AIA, national magazines, as well as kitchen and builder associations. Both his individual projects and the firm’s work have been featured in publications like Architectural Digest, Digest Cordell, and House Beautiful

The firm’s clientele list is impressive: the firm has had the honor of working with a US President and several celebrity interior designers and lifestyle magazine editors. As for its roster of awards, the firm is the proud recipient of the national Benjamin Moore’s prestigious Hue Award. Their recent Arlington Kitchen project received global praise when it won first place among 1,8000 national and international entries. In the gorgeous home picture here, the firm employed a charming stone carriage theme. 

FORMA Design

1524 U St. NW Suite #200, Washington, DC 20009

FORMA Design is an award-winning firm that has been in the industry since 1994. It specializes not only in residential work, but also in healthcare, commercial, and furniture design projects, some of which have been featured national publications and national television. FORMA’s most notable press features include Home & Design, Metro Architect, and Design Solutions. As for its TV specials, it has been featured in HGTV’s “Small Space, Big Style,” “Bang for Your Buck,” and the Fine Living Network’s “What You Get For Your Money.” As previously mentioned, it also takes pride in its long list of accolades,  which boasts over 14 awards from the AIA and 20 from the International Interior Design Association. It has also been nominated for seven straight years for the Cooper-Hewitt at the Smithsonian Design Museum’s National Design Awards, the country’s highest distinction in the field of design. 

On the note of its designs, the firm’s portfolio showcases a variety of both contemporary and modern designs. The featured project below depicts one of its home additions, specifically a garden room for a private residence in Arlington. For this, the firm revamped the home’s entire interior. That work included all of the furniture, as FORMA provided a number of gorgeous, custom-built pieces. 

Great Seal LLC

600 Cameron St., Alexandria, VA 22314

Great Seal LLC is an award-winning, Woman-Owned Small Business that provides expert custom solutions for commercial and residential projects. It is headquartered in Alexandria and extends its services throughout Virginia, the nation’s capital, and Maryland. Since its inception in 1997, it has been developing uniquely tailored processes for commercial and residential projects. And the firm has been well recognized for those efforts. In 2013, it was selected for the Art by Architects exhibition at the Virginia Center for Architecture. The firm is personally led by Lyndl Joseph, a distinguished architect with over three decades of experience. She has worked on every role in the design process throughout her tenure. She also is an expert in historical preservations and construction regulations set out by the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Located in a historic neighborhood just off of Foxhall road, the featured project includes an entire interior renovation and home addition. The firm was tasked with expanding its kitchen, adding a breakfast room, as well as several other updates.    

Jon Hensley Architects

927 S Walter Reed Dr. Suite #3, Arlington, VA 22204

Having been in the industry for over two decades, Jon Hensley Architects specializes in new homes, residential renovations, small commercial improvements, and tenant interior projects. The firm handles every phase of design from pre-assessments and schematic designs all the way to permit drawings, construction documents, and completing tedious zoning reviews. The firm is led by its founder Jon Hensley, a registered architect in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida. Jon also serves on the Arlington Arts Commission. Under his leadership, the firm has been featured in various publications, including the Washington Business Journal. It is also the recipient of a Merit Award from the 2017 DESIGN Arlington Awards. 

Depicted below is one of the firm’s best pieces. This large residence now serves as home to a young family of four. It is situated on a 45-acre site and although the home is expansive, its interiors are intimate and mirror that of its owners’ relationship with one another. This magnificent, yet cozy home is constructed of local stone, cedar siding, and stucco. 

Kay Architects

207 SW St., Falls Church, VA 22046

Founded in 2009, Kay Architects offers consultation services and works on both commercial and residential projects. It is led by Kevin Kay, an experienced architect who has been in the industry since 1987. Prior to his establishment of the firm, he first worked with several notable firms around the Washington metro area, leaving him well-equipped for a variety of project demands. From office buildouts and restaurant facilities to banks, automobile showrooms, and multi-purpose facilities, his experience has enabled the firm to become the diverse company it is today. When it comes to its residential projects, the Kay portfolio displays an array of stately colonial revivals, as well as traditional and craftsman inspired homes.

The featured project is located along Little Hunting Creek right across the way from historic Mount Vernon. The home is situated on a reclaimed lot and an eccentric angle, offering a humble façade to the street. The interior features several family spaces, a library, a master suite, and a sitting room that overlooks the area from the third floor. 

Moore Architects

105 N Maple Ave. Suite #100, Falls Church, VA 22046

Moore Architects is a full-service architectural firm that handles every phase of a project from schematic design through construction drawings and construction administration. The firm believes in a highly hands-on approach and focuses on new homes, home additions, and large-scale renovations. On occasion, it also takes on retail, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation projects. Since the firm’s inception, it has worked on over 300 projects throughout the Washington DC region, North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, Indiana, Texas, New Jersey, and California. The firm has also been recognized multiple times for its excellent work and has been awarded by several organizations such as the AIA and the Washington Architectural Foundation. The firm’s work has been published in magazines such as Spaces Magazine, Architectural Digest, and The Washington Post. Additionally, it has been featured in programs like HGTV’s “Dream Home” and “What You Get For The Money.”

Showcased here is one of the firm’s best projects. For this waterfront lot, the firm made use of a contemporary theme. The home features an office, several guest rooms, and a master suite with exquisite views of the nearby forest. One of its corner outdoor rooms juts out into the beautiful landscape and beyond and has a “treehouse” in the form of a small home addition. 

Ossolinski Architects

1633 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite #200, Washington, DC 20009

Located in the DuPoint Circle area of Washington DC, Ossolinski Architects specializes in single-family projects, corporate interiors, and historic preservation work. The firm bases each home design on 2 things: a detailed knowledge of a clients’ unique everyday activities, and strong respect for each distinct setting. The firm has been in the industry since 1996 and employs the owner-architect-builder approach: it is often hired separately from a project’s contractor in order for it to better represent its clients’ interests throughout the entire design and construction process. Ossolinski handles every facet, including obtaining drawings of existing conditions in digital format, schematic design, development, and working on construction documents. They also regularly visit job sites to ensure that both its team’s and client’s visions are being followed.

The featured project is located on a five-acre wooded site and was originally a 1980s tract home. The firm was hired to expand and renovate: this delightful mid-century modern home is the charming result. It now features a more open floor plan, an addition, a living area with skylights, larger windows, and new clerestories.

Randall Mars Architects

6708 Old McLean Village Dr., McLean, VA 22101

Randall Mars started out in the summer of 1989 after its founder and principal decided to pursue a vision of establishing a firm where he could involve himself in every step of a project’s process. Randall has been able to uphold this promise for the past three decades and has won his now recognizable firm numerous press features and distinctions. These include features in publications like Home and Design and Washingtonian Magazine. The firm primarily focuses on the dynamics of light and space, usually through contemporary themes. Its portfolio depicts an extensive gallery of modern designs, often distinguished by an excellent command of straight lines, glass spaces, and industrial elements.

Originally constructed in the 70s, the featured home was a former single story that now has a new floor. That includes three new bedrooms, a mahogany-clad set of stairs, and a new laundry facility. A windowless section of the home was also revamped: today it’s an entirely new space with large windows that open up exquisite views of the surrounding landscape.

Travis Price Architects

1028 33rd St. NW Suite #320, Washington, DC 20007

Travis Price Architects is known for innovative techniques, unique aesthetics, and the use of cutting-edge industry technology. It is an award-winning firm based in Washington DC that has completed projects across the U.S., South America, Asia, and Europe. Its designs are often distinguished by sustainability practices coupled with modern elements, and, on occasion, hints of various cultural references. It is the proud recipient of over 25 Outstanding Design Awards from the AIA, as well as 8 National Design Awards from the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture. The firm has also been featured in numerous magazines, books, television programs and documentaries.

TPA’s expertise and skill are best embodied by the project featured below. For this contemporary home, the Travis Price team opted for floor-to-ceiling windows, glass doorways, idiosyncratic fixtures, and just the right touch of rich, colorful wood.

Wheeler Architects

201 King St. Suite #305, Alexandria, VA 22314

Extending its services throughout Northern Virginia and the Washington metropolitan areas, Wheeler Architects specializes in residential and small business designs. It uses one of the most comprehensive processes on this list and collaborates closely with each of its clients throughout the entire duration of a project. Homeowners will find that the firm’s principal architect Michael Wheeler, is always readily available. All of the firm’s work receives the benefit of his extensive experience, which includes 12 years as a member of the Old and Historic District Board of Architectural Review. He is also a member of the Building Code Board of Appeals and has been in the industry for nearly four decades. 

Featured below is just one example of the firm’s whole house renovations and home additions. For this home, the firm’s team used the home’s original designs as inspiration when working on the addition. That addition included a two-car garage in its basement, a new kitchen, a family room, and a two-story breakfast room.    

Wiedemann Architects

5272 River Rd. Suite #610, Bethesda, MD 20816

With over three decades of experience, Wiedmann Architects is an award-winning design firm with expertise in building new homes, providing residential additions, and erecting a variety of commercial projects. It focuses on both traditional and modern designs, including renovations and additions often distinguished for their ability to make them seem as if they were always planned parts of the home. In addition to its architectural services, it also provides feasibility studies, programming, site planning, master planning, urban design, and interior work. The firm is led by Gregory Wiedemann, an architect with a background in engineering and a proud recipient of the AIA Medal, an award given only to Harvard’s top-ranking architecture students. The firm itself is also a recipient of a number of awards from the AIA for excellent designs, renovations, and historic preservations.

Photo by Hoachlander Davis Photography LLC

The depicted lakefront home was designed with an L-shape floorplan so as to take advantage of its luxurious views. It features a Dutch gambrel roofline, several v-groove sidings on the first floor, and consistent use of the classic shingle-style, a reference to the several traditional homes in the town it’s situated in.

About Our Rankings

This list takes a range of ranking criteria into consideration, including but not limited to: work history, customer satisfaction, awards and recognition, geographic area of work, cost, building permits, and clientele. We spent over 40 hours researching local contractors before calculating the final ranking for this post. If there is additional information about your business that could affect these rankings, please fill out this form and we will take it into consideration.

Get Bids For Your Build

If you are thinking about building a custom home, we recommend checking each builder’s license with the local licensing board, speaking to past clients, and using our bidding system to get competitive quotes from at least 3 contractors. Getting multiple bids is the best way to ensure you get a fair price and that bids include the complete scope of work.