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GREAT HOUSE TOUR Lloyd Taft House

4320 Drake Road | Indian Hill, OH | October 12, 2013

The three houses consist of a main house with two guesthouses, one for the children and the other for overnight visitors. The first floor of the main house features the central, shared space for the home including the living room, dining room, kitchen and breakfast room. The second floor features the master bedroom suite and screened porch. Above the master suite is a rooftop deck from which the expanse of property can be viewed. Two smaller “houses” are connected to the main house by a one and a half story walkway, or linear gallery. It features a curved glass block wall. The sense of separation and connection on the family level allows everyone to feel they have their own private domain while simultaneously being part of a whole. The pool/guest house or children’s house is a two-story element that accommodates living, dining and kitchen on the ground level and two bedrooms on the second level. Opposite the children’s quarters is another two-story “guesthouse” with garage below and two bedrooms above. The ground level opening between the two guesthouses provided the entryway to all three houses. Together, the three houses partially surround a large courtyard that extends to the terrace and swimming pool. The culmination of the progression through the linear gallery back to the main house is the extensive, south facing two-story sunscreen, or brise soleil, one of the house’s most distinctive and dramatic features.

The brise soleil is an integrated extension of the main house living and dining spaces on the ground level and the screened porch off the master suite above. The sunscreen appears as a separate element when viewed from its edge yet from within the house provides transparency and depth while framing views. Originally a greenhouse was part of this complex. It fell into disrepair when the house was unoccupied. The current garage was converted from that greenhouse structure. The original landscape concept by Gwathmey was purposefully minimalist, relying upon existing forest perimeter and spacious open lawn. The lawn surrounds the house and disappears over the hillcrest toward the valley view below beyond Gwathmey’s low pipe rail sculpture. The arbor connecting greenhouse and guesthouse was planted with vines. Bentley Meisner landscape architects assisted with the landscape design. An unrealized portion of the master plan was a tennis court and associated covered walkway and tennis house. This was to be located east and north of the pool and terrace at the north edge of the forest.

A MODERNIST VILLA
The Lloyd B. Taft home, designed by renowned architect Charles Gwathmey of Gwathmey Siegel Associates, was completed in 1980 and is an outstanding example of crisp modernist residential architecture.
The 7,000 square foot residence is situated on 6 ½ acres with views of the Little Miami River valley and engaging landscapes of Anderson Township. The builder was Don Curless with built in woodwork by Flottemesch & Son. The Taft family occupied the home until the death of Lloyd Taft in 1985 at age 62. Attorney Robert Olson, the current owner, purchased the property from the Taft estate in 1988 and several alterations to the home ensued. New York Times architectural critic, Paul Goldberger, called the home a “modernist villa” because it is comprised of three separate, but connected houses clustered around a central square or courtyard. This approach was architect Gwathmey’s solution to the Taft’s desire not to have a “big” house in spite of their extensive program requirements.

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FLOOR PLANS

ROOF Comments from Robert Olson, long-time resident and owner of the Lloyd Taft home:

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“The New York Times critic Paul Goldberger described the idea of the house was to have us perceive the house as making up a kind of villa with little houses clustered around a central square.” Changes To The Original Design “The review in the American Institute of Architects journal focused on the uniqueness of the front façade, as well as the modernity that was behind it. Another critic thought the house resembles a grand ocean liner lumbering toward the edge of a hill.” Robert Olson said, “Gwathmey’s three-house concept in certain respects didn’t work very well for us and our young children when we first bought the property. In 1989 we turned to the acclaimed Cincinnati modernist architect, Carl Strauss. Strauss discussed the changes we needed with Gwathmey who was not available at the time to do the work himself.” “Carl designed and executed three basic changes for us. First, he converted the then garage into our family room. Second, he enclosed the exterior walkway between two of the houses with a glass walls and doors and moved the front door northward. Third, he replaced what was a greenhouse with the present-day, separate two-story garage.” In 1994 Cincinnati architect Stewart Shillito Maxwell Jr. redesigned the original kitchen artfully incorporating much of the Gwathmey Siegel design. He also redesigned the outdoor patio pavements.

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SECOND FLOOR

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THIRD FLOOR

“Jay Chatterjee, the retired dean of The University of Cincinnati’s School of Design Art, Architecture and Planning, has said this house is revolutionary because of the “brise soleil, or sunscreen, which seems to explode from traditional modernist rectangular forms.”

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“You may ask what it’s been like living here– an absolute joy. Living here is like living inside a work of art. And with all the glass, it’s like living outdoors.” --Robert Olson
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AWARDS & ACCOLADES
1980 Reviewed in the New York Times Magazine by architecture critic Paul Goldberger 1981 Reviewed in AIA Journal by Stanley Abercrombie 1983 Featured in GA Houses 1984 Named and featured in Architecture magazine as winner of an American Institute of Architects national honor award 1984 Featured in Charles Gwathmey and Robert Siegel: Buildings and Projects 1964-1984 1997 Featured in Great Houses of the Queen City, photographs by Alice Weston, text by Walter Langsam 2013 Featured in Architectural Digest “Charles Gwathmey’s Modernist Masterpieces”

EXTERIORS

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INTERIORS

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THE ARCHITECTS

In 1983, he organized the Pratt Institute Student Intern Program within the Gwathmey Siegel office- part of his continuing interest in nurturing the skills of talented young architects. In 1983, the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects recognized Mr. Siegel’s skill and leadership as an architect with its Medal of Honor. He received the Pratt Institute Centennial Alumni Award in Architecture in 1988 and in 1990 accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York State Society of Architects. He was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1991. Robert Siegel is the Vice Chairman and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees and is a member of the Executive and Nominating committees of Pratt Institute in New York City. Previously he served as a member of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design Alumni Advisory Committee. Robert Siegel recently retired from the firm and is teaching architecture at Pratt Institute in New York City.

Paul Goldberger reflects on Charles Gwathmey New York Times, August 5, 2009 “In 1965, Charles Gwathmey, three years out of the Yale School of Architecture, designed a house and studio for his parents, the artists Rosalie and Robert Gwathmey, in Amagansett, on eastern Long Island. Gwathmey was twenty eight years old, an age when most architects are toiling away in large corporate offices and hoping for the chance to renovate a friends’ kitchen. When Gwathmey’s projects, a pair of crisp, sharply angles structures covered in cedar siding, was finished, a year later, it became one of the most influential houses of the decade: a composition of cubes, cylinders and triangles, it was a study in inventive modernist geometries. “Architectural careers generally develop slowly, which made Gwathmey’s particularly unusual, the architectural equivalent of the young writer who comes out of nowhere and produces a brilliant first novel. In some ways, Gwathmey was the architecture world’s Norman Mailer, with the same bravado, the same raw talent and the same career-long anxiety about whether he could continue to equal his spectacular first performance.” “Over time, Gwathmey and his partner Robert Siegel became the architects of choice for clients in the entertainment industry who were sophisticated enough to want something other than an interior decorator’s French Provincial… houses impeccably design and exquisitely crafted.”

CHARLES GWATHMEY
Charles Gwathmey received his Master of Architecture degree in 1962 from Yale University, where he won both The William Wirt Winchester Fellowship as the outstanding graduate and a Fulbright Grant. In the decades since, Mr. Gwathmey was honored with numerous awards, including the Brunner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Medal of Honor from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the first Yale Alumni Arts Award from the Yale School of Architecture, the Guild Hall Academy of Arts Lifetime Achievement Medal in Visual Arts and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York State Society of Architects. Mr. Gwathmey served as President of the Board of Trustees for The Institute of Architecture and Urban Studies and was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1981. From 1965 through 1991, Mr. Gwathmey taught at Pratt Institute, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Princeton University, Columbia University, the University of Texas, and the University of California at Los Angeles. He was Davenport Professor (1983 and 1999) and Bishop Professor (1991) at Yale, and the Eliot Noyes Visiting Professor at Harvard University (1985). Mr. Gwathmey was the spring 2005 William A. Bernoudy Resident in Architecture at the American Academy in Rome. Charles Gwathmey passed away on August 3, 2009 after battling cancer for several years.

ROBERT SIEGEL
Robert Siegel was educated at Pratt Institute, Bachelor of Architecture 1962 and received his Master of Architecture, Harvard University in 1963. Prior to joining with Charles Gwathmey to form the partnership, Mr. Siegel was the senior associate in the office of Edward Larrabee Barnes responsible for major projects including the Crown Center Development in Kansas City and the New England Merchants Bank Tower in Boston. Mr. Siegel was also responsible for the overall management of the Barnes office. Throughout his professional career, Mr. Siegel has served as a design critic, juror, and lecturer at schools of architecture and professional organizations.

THE FIRM
Founded in 1968, GWATHMEY SIEGEL & ASSOCIATES ARCHITECTS is a New York-based firm offering master planning, architectural, interior and product design services. Gwathmey Siegel has completed over four hundred projects for educational, healthcare, corporate, cultural, government and private clients throughout the United States and abroad. The 45-person firm has an international reputation for architectural excellence, confirmed by more than 100 design awards, continuing recognition in the professional and general press, and inclusion in exhibitions and histories of contemporary architecture. Gwathmey Siegel & Associates received the American Institute of Architects’ highest honorthe Firm Award - for “approaching every project with a fresh eye, a meticulous attention to detail, a keen appreciation for environmental and economic concerns and a strong belief in collaborative effort. “This collaborative approach applies not only to our client relationships, but also to our internal creative and project management process, as well as our working relationships with consultants and specialists.”
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ABOUT T HE AFC
Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati BOARD OF TRUSTEES 2013 PRESIDENT Michael P. Kelley, IIDA, LEED AP PAST PRESIDENT David S. Arends, AIA, OAA VICE PRESIDENT Jay Schuermann SECRETARY John Krug, Esq. TREASURER Nick Rosian TRUSTEES J. Wickliffe Ach Kyle L. Campbell Robert Grace Jamie Humes Eric Inglert Gary Meisner Mario San Marco Chris Patek Ken Pray Mark Schlachter William Woodward TRUSTEE EMERITUS Buck Neihoff Gary Herfel Donald Junker Alice Weston EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Kit H. Anderson ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Elisabeth Ampthor

MISSION
The Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati enriches the Greater Cincinnati community by connecting people with the places where we live, learn, work and play. Through our programming and educational outreach, we inspire public engagement in shaping the built environment.

Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati 811 Race Street Cincinnati, OH 45202 (513) 421-4469 Visit www.architecturecincy.org to join AFC and to learn about the latest exhibits and programs.

Brochure Photos: Vivian Schwab Brochure Design: Janice Radlove