Hickory Cluster: A Mid-Century Architectural Gem by Designer Charles Goodman

There is no question that Reston not only has an eclectic personality, but architecture to match. You can find Colonial, contemporary 1970s and 1980s homes, as well as mid-century modern and Brutalist homes from the 1960s.

One of the most interesting and visually stunning town home communities in Reston is Hickory Cluster. The walls of glass and primary-colored front doors are what originally drew me to this neighborhood. It seems whimsical and fun, and it breaks from the monotony of Reston Brown.

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I have long been interested in mid-century architecture. The Eichler communities in California are some of my favorite homes, so when we moved here I tried to find something similar. There aren’t any Eichlers here but I did find pockets of Charles Goodman homes in the DC area. While researching, I came across realtor Michael Shapiro’s site Modern Capital. Michael specializes in mid-century homes in the DMV. He walks the walk, so to speak, by living in and renovating these vintage jewels.

In his own words: The site is dedicated to covering mid-century modern and modern real estate, design and events in the D.C. area. It also is committed to raising awareness and supporting efforts to preserve the region’s mid-century modern architecture. I donate 10 percent of all ad revenue to groups dedicated to preserving and highlighting mid-century modern architecture.

Michael was gracious enough to give us a brief history of Hickory Cluster. He currently has a listing there and it’s a neighborhood he knows well.

Hickory Cluster: A Mid-Century Architectural Gem by Designer Charles Goodman
Guest Post by Michael Shapiro

During the 1950s and ’60s, you could find international-style townhomes by Mies van der Rohe in Detroit and by I. M Pei in Chicago. In our area, Berla and Abel designed early 1940s modernist townhomes on Harvard Street and Arkansas Avenue in Washington, D.C. And Charles M. Goodman and Chloethiel Woodard Smith designed modernist townhouses as part of the massive urban renewal project in Southwest DC.  

Robert E. Simon took this concept and brought it to the rolling hills of traditional Virginia. Rather than building cookie cutter suburbs, like Levittown on Long Island where he summered as a child and lived as an adult with his own family, Simon sought to develop villages with their own amenities and modernist architecture by the likes of Goodman, Smith, James Rossant, William Conklin and Louis Sauer.

When he started developing Reston as a modern planned community in the early 1960s, he asked Goodman to design the first set of homes. Goodman came up with Hickory Cluster, ninety International-style townhomes nestled into the trees just across the street from Lake Anne.

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“Groups of townhouses have been arranged around intricately paved terraces, which in turn are leveled into a wooded hilltop,” an original sales brochure marketing Hickory Cluster says.

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“The Goodman Houses overlook the Village Center and Lake Anne. Sharp changes in roofline, varying sizes, and contrasting textures accented by vivid colors contribute to a townhouse setting of great beauty. A variety of designs and facilities include 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms, rooftop terraces, balconies, playrooms, private studies, family rooms and recreation rooms. … Landscaped pedestrian paths, completely free of traffic, lead to shops in the Village Center, schools and recreation facilities. The Goodman Houses are an ideal application of contemporary townhouse design to a naturally wooded site.”

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Lovers of design and architecture flock to Goodman homes. In the book Housing Washington, author Richard Longstreth provides us with the quote:

” … The appeal of living in a Goodman house is enormous to those who share his avant-garde spirit, plus his ideals for openness, engagement with nature, and liberal social values. There remains a solid housing market today for people who appreciate the simplicity amid nature and the progressivism that a Goodman house still offers. …To those who are fortunate enough to obtain them, his dwellings feel like highly livable works of art, glazed conduits to the natural world.  Perhaps far more than those who inhabited them early on, the houses offer a rarified experience that, contrary to their designer’s intent, renders them well removed from any vernacular realm.”

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It definitely takes a certain type of person to understand and cherish these homes as they are truly works of art. Units in Hickory Cluster don’t often come on the market. This three-level model, which I currently have listed for $399,000, is nearly 2,000 square feet and has 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. It features walls of glass, refinished original hardwood floors, original wood walls and stunning open staircase. 


The expansive full-length middle level living room has a balcony on the front and opens up to the fenced yard in back. You can walk to Lake Anne Village Center and enjoy Reston’s trails and other recreational amenities. It is located 2.3 miles from Metro, making this home very convenient to DC and Dulles Airport.


Photos courtesy of Michael Shapiro.

Link to listing on my site: http://moderncapitaldc.com/2016/03/24/my-new-listing-goodman-townhome-in-reston-399k/

Listing with photos: http://spws.homevisit.com/hvid/159668

A very special thanks to Michael for contributing to Modern Reston!

You can see more from Michael on his site Modern Capital DC and follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. His site and social accounts contain way more than just listings. You’ll find resources for mid-century furniture, renovations, history, and very cool photography.


Related Articles:

Ask a Designer: Decorating a Mid-Century House

Know Before You Go: Shopping for Mid-Century Modern Furniture in the DMV

Home Tour: A Cramped, Split-Level Transforms with Spacious Mid-Century Style

  • mlbjunkee

    Never mind that they’re poorly designed, cheaply built and the Cluster will harass you about inconsequential things, while letting the place fall into disrepair. Don’t get me started on RELAC…

  • Rob Chevez

    I’ve lived in Hickory Cluster since 2004 and our family absolutely loves living here. The walls of glass that let nature in, the open floor plans, the large bedrooms and the outdoor / indoor living spaces are just a few of the reasons why we love it. You then add the trails, the proximity to Lake Anne Plaza, North Shore pool and the people and it all adds up to a very special place to call home.