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Two of the most creative architects ever to embrace the round form, Frank Lloyd Wright and Bruce Goff, were both born on June 8—Wright in 1867, and Goff in 1904.

For Wright, the circular form symbolized freedom, an escape from the traditional residential box. As he explained in 1952, “a box is a containment. I tried to abolish the box.” Wright designed at least 14 round and semi-circular houses, as well as, most famously, the spiraling Guggenheim Museum in NYC. Not all of his round house designs were built; sadly, some of his most beautiful and innovative efforts never made it beyond the planning stage.

Wright’s 1938 project for Ralph Jester, meant for a suburban housing community in Palos Verdes, California, was his first attempt at a circular residence -

jester house plans

Another unbuilt round house was the Ludd M. Spivey house, which Wright designed during the same period.

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circle dreams

October 26, 2013 — 1 Comment

The circle-studded facade of NYC’s Dream Downtown Hotel -

dream downtown hotel, NYC

The hotel is the latest incarnation of an iconic 1966 building designed by Louisiana architect Albert C. Ledner, known for a sort of playful, oddball modernism. Just off Ninth Avenue, stretching between West 16th and 17th Street, the building was recently transformed by Handel Architects. The building’s 16th Street facade, above, was covered in shiny stainless steel, as was its 17th Street facade (on the left, below, in its original red-brick cladding).

maritime hotel

maritime_hotel_4

The building’s circular motif — equally in evidence in the adjoining Ledner-designed structure, the white tile and concrete Maritime Hotel — reflects the structure’s history. Both buildings were originally annexes to the headquarters of the National Maritime Union: the porthole windows were a coy reference to life at sea.

Ledner, whose use of circular forms extends from his professional to his personal life, or vice-versa, lives in a round house of his own design in New Orleans.

on the market

October 12, 2013 — 7 Comments

You can find round and circular-form houses for sale right now in the US, UK, Australia and Canada for prices ranging from $87,500 to $10 million.  On the lavish — and arguably garish — end of the spectrum, there’s this 1980s luxury villa on Hamilton Island, in Australia, and the “Corbetta Estate” in Los Altos Hills, California (which was the cooler and much more fun Corbetta Party House in a former incarnation).

george keck house

Bringing up the low end of the market, at a modest 696 square feet in size, is one of the many small post-war round houses in Des Moines, Iowa.

A few other houses stand out -

You can also find two round houses for sale in the UK, one in Portland, Dorset, selling for £925,000, and the other in Sidmouth, Devon, selling for £849,950.

360 ° views of a 360 ° house

September 11, 2013 — 1 Comment

A round house on a private island in Mamaroneck, NY, is now on sale for $2.595 million (down from its original asking price of $3.1 million) -

mamaroneck round house

This swirling video shows the circular dwelling from the air.

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Currently on sale for $1.2 million, this rotating dome in New Paltz can turn a full circle in five minutes.  The house was built using a kit from France called Domespace and has bamboo floors, stone cabinets, and a central spiral staircase.

It looks “like a space ship,” said the real estate agent handling the sale. “But it’s an amazing home. It’s the coolest home I’ve ever seen.”

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a round icon disappears

November 26, 2011 — 1 Comment

Airport control towers are one of the few structures for which round design is the norm. While the circular form of La Guardia Airport’s 1964 control tower was, in itself, not surprising, the tower was still original, playful and fun.  Now it is gone.

If you haven’t flown through La Guardia Airport in recent months, you’re in for a surprise. Whether it’s a pleasant surprise or an unhappy one depends on your feelings about curvaceous, eccentric, whimsical architecture …. No other airport had anything quite like this porthole-pocked cynosure; a hometown creation by Wallace K. Harrison, the consummate New York establishment architect of the mid-20th century.

Not everyone appreciated the structure.  In reporting on its April 16, 1964 opening, the New York Times said it “looks like a new design for a giant ice cream cone.” Writing in 1980, influential architecture critic Paul Goldberger compared the tower, “with its plethora of portholes,” to “a concrete piece of Swiss cheese.”

Others, like Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, admired it.  In “Delirious New York” (1978), Mr. Koolhaas described the dialectic in Mr. Harrison’s work “between the rectangle and the kidney shape, between rigidity and freedom.”

Ultimately, he wrote, the liberating impulse surrenders to the grid. “Only his curve remains as a fossil of the freer language.”

variations on a circle

November 1, 2011 — 1 Comment

What do you call the negative space between three circles?  That’s what this very interesting house represents. ai wei wei guest house, ancram, NYA collaborative effort by the Swiss firm HHF Architects and Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, the house is located in Ancram, New York, about two hours north of Manhattan. The site plans show the house’s curving walls and its circular conceptual foundation.  A photo of the house, which was completed in 2011, gives a sense of its strikingly simple design.

The house — which is actually a guest house — was built three years after the property’s main house. As of 2013, the entire 37-acre property was on the market for a cool $4.25 million.

robert moses in the round

October 15, 2011 — 2 Comments

In Long Island, New York, “an exercise in how to fit circles together” -

Designed by architect Wallace K. Harrison in the 1930s, the Harrison Estate served as a laboratory for Harrison’s architectural ideas. “The home’s signature element, the circle, is found in the forms of the living room, small former dining room, pool, and even concrete pavers used for walkways . . . . Amongst the many artists and friends whom enjoyed the house were Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Mary Callery, Robert Moses, and Le Corbusier.”

“He builds landmarks,” Time Magazine said of Harrison in 1952.

His Long Island house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Nineteenth century Shakers, a religious minority with colonies in New York and several New England states, were fond of round barns.

In his book An Age of Barns, landscape painter Eric Sloane explains that the Shakers regarded the circle as the perfect form. “Farmers made circular designs on their barns, and their wives sewed circular patterns on quilts. The Shakers used the circle in their ‘inspirational drawings’ … they took delight in round hats, rugs and boxes; and they made round drawer-pulls and hand-rests for their severely angled furniture. There is a saying that the round barn was intended ‘to keep the devil from hiding in corners.’

Tall, round, wood house for sale near Woodstock for $163K -

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