Modern in Lexington, Kentucky
The Miller House is an unusual architectural specimen. No, not the Miller House by Richard Neutra or Eero Saarinen. This Miller house was designed by Jose Oubrerie, and most likely, you haven't heard of it. Designed over a course of five years with the cooperation of his students and local master builders, Oubrerie's 1988 Miller House is a testament to architectural discovery through variation and applied testing. Located on the outskirts of horse country in the suburban fringe of Lexington, Kentucky, this onetime residence is now a resource of public domain (at least for now). While clearly in the lineage of Le Corbusier, with whom Oubrerie was a student and protégé, the structure's current accessibility and context is threatened. Foundation for Advanced Architecture, a nonprofit trust founded and headed by local architect Scott Guyon, has pledged to save what author Kenneth Frampton has deemed a “master work” from ruin. Yet this neo-Cubist gem still faces an uncertain future.
While Dean of the college of Design and Architecture at University of Kentucky, Oubrerie was commissioned by attorney Robert Miller to design his dream home. It would be situated on a 30-acre lot, around which Miller and his partner planned to develop a neighborhood of suburban tract homes. Though Miller had the foresight to plant what serves now as a curtain of trees that blocks out two adjacent neighborhoods, there remains a striking dichotomy between the house's current field condition—literally a highly articulated object in a seemingly rural plane—to that of the Agrestic-like neighborhood one must pass through to reach it.
Proposals to save the house have come in several guises, from celebrity endorsement and a proposal to reprogram the building as a community center to outright sale. But why not benefit from the chance of an early zoning law—which until the late nineties deemed the lot outside the urban service boundary, protecting it from similar development? It wouldn’t take much to transform the land and house into a nature reserve and architectural retreat for the local and international design community to enjoy for years to come. It's easy to imagine this place as an oasis, invigorating creative minds of young and old alike, but like most things, ultimately it’s a matter of funding.
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Reinventing the American House: Domestic Architecture, Interiors, and Furniture of Benjamin Henry Latrobe
Dr. Patrick Snadon, Associate Professor of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio will be giving a lecture on Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764 - 1820), the first professional architect of international stature in America. Latrobe trained and practiced in England, traveled extensively in Europe, then immigrated to the United States where he captured the attention of President Thomas Jefferson, who commissioned him to complete the unfinished White House and the United States Capital. Latrobe also designed many other major buildings and engineering projects in the U.S. and combined his Enlightenment education, English practice, and European experiences with a keen observation of American manners and climate to create an entirely new house type for the new republic. In his "rational house", Latrobe introduced radically new spatial distributions, interior decor, and furniture designs.
Dr. Snadon simultaneously earned a bachelor of science degree in interior design and a bachelor of arts degree in art history from the University of Missouri. After obtaining a Master's degree in interior design from the University of Kentucky, he completed a doctorate in architecture from Cornell. Dr. Snadon has numerous publications to his credit, including The Domestic Architecture of Benjamin Henry Latrobe with Michael Fazio and he is the architectural historian and historic restoration consultant for two Latrobe Houses; Decatur House (1817) in Washington D.C. and Pope Villa in Lexington, Kentucky (1811 - 1813).
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