Connecting Land to Water in Irvington

General / People / Places / April 1, 2011

Other areas of the nation may claim it, but few have truly earned the sobriquet of “God’s Country” in the manner of Irvington, Va.

Home to Robert “King” Carter’s Christ Church (c. 1735) and the uber-prep Tides Inn, it’s a community on the Rappahannock with fine bloodlines and fantastic views to match.

It’s here that architect Randall Kipp has established his residential architecture practice, seeking to create spaces worthy of the environment in which they’re set.

A native of Minnesota, he migrated to Irvington years ago for a client project.  Like many who come here, he never left.  He simply dedicated himself to developing buildings married to the people who live there – to creating galleries around their lives.

“It’s a lot of work and a lot of hours together – every bit of two years long,” he said.  “I start with a floor plan and a topographical model, until I feel like I’ve got it all just right –the winds, the views, the sunlight, and the volume.”

He likes to use models – he’s on his fourth for one couple right now – because his drawing skills can’t keep up with his building skills.  A perspective drawing might have only one view, but a model of a building shows all that are possible.  “People think they understand a building until they see that, and then say ‘Aha! Now I understand it – and I like it,” he said.

From a designer’s perspective, his model-building represents a circle of connectiveness – from heart to mind to finger to paper – and then to relationships.

The results are residences that nestle themselves closely into the land and the water of the Northern Neck of Virginia, and celebrate the way people live there.  “On the water, the architecture turns out rather than in,” he said.  “It erodes the walls between land and building, so that the building spills out and the land spills in.”

No area on the eastern seaboard deserves a more sensitive and collaborative treatment.

For more on Randall Kipp, go to

For more on Christ Church, go to

For more on Tides Inn, go to

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Mike Welton

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1 Comment

on April 1, 2011

Great stuff Randall!!

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