Earth, Wood, Stone and Sky – Discovering Places

robb 11As a member of the New Mexico Architectural Foundation I had the privilege (really) to visit an iconic mid-century modern home located just outside of Albuquerque. This was the location for the foundation’s annual membership meeting. The house was built around 1962 for a local family and designed by noted architect Don Schlegel. At first sight it appears to be totally out of sync with the common New Mexico architectural styles. There is no adobe. Where are the vigas and the latillas? What happened to the corbels?  What’s going on???

DSCN3791On further inspection things start to fall into place. The structure was inspired by the rough stone ruins of New Mexico’s 17th century Spanish missions. If you go to Abo or Quarai or even the Jemez mission you will see massive stone walls with long straight lines and multiple levels of masonry and large voids — places where stonework is missing. The ruins are open to the air and sky with shadows moving across the walls.

Instead of being contrary to the common style the house seems to rise up out of the past….albeit in the 1960s style.  The amount of stone and glass is the one thing that stands out once you enter the house. The floor is mostly brick and the woodwork is finished in a soft and mellow light brown. Sunlight streams through the windows and skylights.

Instead of droning on about the house, I’ll just post a few pictures. I apologize for the quality — all I had was my cell phone and I haven’t mastered the art of cell phone photography. The amount of sunlight pouring into the house was too much of a challenge for the camera. The house is in the process of some renovation and renewal. There are twelve acres that require upkeep. In 1962, this house was way out in the countryside — almost by itself — but the city and later development are catching up to it and it might take some effort to keep it intact for another fifty years.

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The upper floor almost resembles a dormitory — the family had six kids. The lower floor is raised up slightly from ground level and you get the impression that you are several levels. The living room and a large family room  dominate the lower floor along with a dining room and 1960s galley-style kitchen. There are sliding doors opening to the yard and patio in almost every room. There are several massive stone fireplaces.  The living and family rooms have built-in bench seating.  There are a number of built-in furniture and storage features in the bedrooms and kitchen.

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