tomorrow’s life today

February 1, 2012 — Leave a comment

That’s how Life magazine described this 1957 modernist showpiece, designed by architect Cecil Alexander, who studied under Bauhaus masters Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius at Harvard in the 1940s -

Located in Atlanta’s wealthy Buckhead neighborhood, the house was falling apart when Theodore and Susan Pound bought it in 2005.  They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars restoring it, relying, in part, on blueprints and advice from the original architect.

“You seem so normal to us, you don’t seem like a contrarian,” Mr. Pound told [Cecil Alexander] recently. “But this house is such a basically nonconformist idea. It’s still something of a mystery to me: why is it round?”

Mr. Alexander, a jovial raconteur with a razor-sharp memory, has an explanation for everything. “My first plans were L’s or squares or rectangles,” he told the Pounds. “But then I realized those shapes waste so much space — a circle is compact, it gives you the maximum interior room for the minimum amount of exposed wall.”

The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 2010. The registration form explains that Alexander built the house for his family’s use, and that the circular plan ensured that the family would get together at least once or twice a day. As the architect told Progressive Architecture in a 1959 interview, “lt was our conception that the family should feel itself a unit — thus, the circular plan …. The central covered and sky-lighted court has constituted a constant place of meeting.”

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