2016 Burlison, The Garvey House

Project Overview

Architect: Bruce Goff         Year Built: 1954       Architectural Style: Contemporary


Architectural Description

Probably the most fascinating architectural creation on this list, Bruce Goff's contemporary design for 2016 S. Burlison resembles something fallen from outer space. Built in 1954, the house is referred to as the Round House, or the Garvey House, as it was commissioned by University of Illinois piano professor John Garvey. Garvey commissioned Goff to design “a house that was more than a house.” Unfortunately, Goff’s highly ambitious first design had to be abandoned when Kaiser Aluminum withdrew their pledge to donate supplies.

The primary design consideration was Garvey’s intent to regularly host semi-public events in the home. The performance space was the main design feature of the house and other living spaces were designed to accommodate the need for privacy in a home that was intended to be semi-public. This consideration extended to the relationship between the house and the street. Concluding that the unusual design would attract attention from passers-by, Goff strove to provide the house with a privacy from the street without evoking a hostile or closed-off feeling. The combination of a gate and a semi-circular driveway was selected to achieve this goal. The gate, like the house, is futuristic and is comprised of a pattern of alternating curved white panels and what appears to be large silver duct work turned on its end. Passers-by can partially see through the gate, but cannot enter unless invited in.

Revolving doors were used so that when company or the children were in and out of the house, a cold or hot draft was not brought in each time someone entered. These first two design considerations of the driveway and the entry generated a circular feeling that Goff carried throughout the design of the rest of the house. The house is overall a peculiar shape and it has a low-sloping roof with the front entry recessed below the roof. The entrance side of the house has a band of floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The entryway is supported by thin steel columns. Exposed rafters poke out below the roof line under the entry space. There is a futuristic cap at the apex of the roof. The performance space is articulated by rounded walls that are steeply slanted outward and are punched with large windows.


Historical Description

John Garvey met Bruce Goff while giving a performance at the University of Oklahoma where Goff was the chair of the architecture department. The Garvey House was one of Goff’s last designs while on the Oklahoma faculty. In 1955 Goff was forced out amidst a scandal.

While the Garvey House was designed to accommodate the Garvey’s work with the Quartet, he only lived in the house for a few years. However, the second resident was another key figure in the history of music at University of Illinois’, Salvatore Martirano, a music professor, inventor, and pioneer of electronic music. Martirano lived in the house with his first wife, Iva, and the house regularly hosted performances of all kinds, including musical concerts, plays, and fashion shows.

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Created on: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 10:35
- Author - SashaC
- Contributors: KevinG