BUILDING A DAY: October 18, 2014

Milam House
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

Architect: Paul Rudolph
Photos: University of Florida Digital Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, Photographer- Ezra Stoller
Renderings: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Section

The Milam house marks the end of Paul Rudolph’s environmentally-tuned regional modernism in Florida, and the beginning of a new visual, spatial, and sculptural period in his work.

Because this house was to be air conditioned all the time, Rudolph worked to find new means of expression that suited this new way of living in Florida. While giant sheets of glass form an environmental barrier, blocking the sounds, smells, and breeze of the beach, they also become a picture plane for defining the views of the beach and sea beyond.

One way of understanding the great rectangular shapes on the east side of the house is as a series of deep frames for the views from the interior. From the exterior these boxes are seen together as the design of a façade with depth, in which changing light and shadow enliven the rigorous, proportioned composition.

The interior spaces illustrate Rudolph’s mastery of design in section. Spaces connect through a series of partial levels and high and low ceilings, each of which is designed for a particular purpose, experience, and even mood. The experience of the raised inglenook by the fireplace contrasts with the spectacular open living room as well as the intimate library tucked into the far end of the main space.

After the Milam House, Rudolph’s work became even more sculptural and plastic as he manipulated form, mass, and space in the great concrete structures of the 1960s.

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