Friday, March 23, 2007

Lincoln House

Last year's spring/summer issue of the Harvard Design Magazine had a fascinating article on Lincoln House designed and built by Mary Otis Stevens and Thomas F. McNulty in 1965 and sadly, demolished in 2001. Intrigued by the story, I searched the web for more information and images of the house and found that it has almost no web presence. Shocked by this sad omission from the digital universe, I have decided to give it some exposure in this post.

Built in Lincoln, Massachusetts for Stevens, McNulty and their three sons, the house was a revolutionary piece of domestic architecture. Work and living spaces were not separated, and almost all interior doors were eliminated as privacy and separation were given through the curvature of the walls.

All of the walls were free-standing elements made from a high lime content cement that gave a marble-like finish when cured. Each wall was connected to the next by a glass panel, and each glass panel opened out onto the surrounding landscape.

In Stevens words, “The curves were throwing you out rather than holding you in. Each projected its energy into nature. We used the invisible power of the concave walls to relate the building beyond its site to the woods and fields of rural Lincoln—and beyond to the universe itself.”

The house was placed on a north-south axis, so that on a sunny day a streak of light would shoot down the stairs and extend its length and, as the day wore on, finds its way along the hallway leading to the children's area.

The overall design has a beautiful feeling of movement; from inside to outside and room to room, and speaks volumes about what was to come with open concepts and communal spaces. It is so sad that a house like this could be lost so easily, as it represents a fascinating period in modern residential architecture that has only now reached mass popularity.