Frank Lloyd Wright’s La Miniatura

Frank Lloyd Wright’s concrete-block homes in southern California were not an immediate success. One client fired him during construction, other projects came in well over budget and critics were less than impressed with the finished homes. Wright, however, insisted that he “would rather have built this little house [La Miniatura] than St. Peter’s in Rome.” Today, he’s been vindicated: not only do the concrete-block homes command respect, this fully restored one in Pasadena commands a $4.5 million asking price.

La Miniatura, also known as the Alice Millard House, was the first of Wright’s textile-block homes, which were built with patterned concrete blocks. It was a shift in his design principles, but not a departure; the house is set into a ravine so the main floor looks out onto the gardens, and Wright mixed sand from the site into the concrete blocks so the land would be part of the house.

The concrete walls and floors are cool, but the warm redwood ceiling keeps the double-height living room from feeling cold. That, and there’s a large fireplace in the centre of the room, directly opposite the bank of windows.

Living space is spread out over three storeys to take advantage of the hilly site. Once you’ve finished eating at the gorgeous table in the lower-level dining room, you can take dessert out on the patio.

Light streams into the upper floors through tall multi-pane windows in the bedrooms and open concrete blocks in the hallways. Wright drew inspiration for the blocks’ pattern from pre-Columbian motifs, while the wooden doors throughout the house were requested by Alice Millard.

The four-bedroom, four-bathroom property includes a studio (the entry to which is shown here) designed by Wright’s son Lloyd Wright in 1926. It’s connected to the main house by a concrete walkway. The younger Wright also planned the lush grounds.

For more superstar architecture, check out Matthew Hague’s post on Arthur Erickson’s Filberg House.

Photo credits:
1-5: Mayoral Photo for Crosby Doe Associates

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