House & Home, a long-term exhibition presented by the National Building Museum, takes visitors on a tour of houses both familiar and surprising, through past and present, challenging our ideas about what it means to live at home in America.
To create a new façade for the original house, Frank Gehry exposed its structure and wrapped it in unexpected ways using ordinary building materials: aluminum siding, plywood, and chain-link fencing. “I loved the idea of leaving the house intact and . . . building the new house around it,” he later wrote.
Built as a retirement residence, this house synthesizes the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement with a relaxed yet upscale California lifestyle. The brothers Henry and Charles Greene designed this 8,100-square-foot house, which sits on a platform of rubble stone, as a series of asymmetrical forms capped by broad, low-hipped, cantilevered roofs.
Facing the busy harbor, this house, once known as the Turner-Ingersoll mansion, had a cross-gable roof and massive central hearth to provide protection from harsh weather. As its owners prospered, the house grew to contain 17 rooms within 8,000 square feet, but retained the dark-stained wooden siding, small windows, rectilinear massing, and gable-studded roof.
The Low house exemplified an American architectural style that emerged in the late 1800s. After the 1876 Centennial, American architects adopted the materials, simple forms, and sense of comfortable domesticity found in the colonial houses of New England. The Low house design is recognized today as the Shingle style, a term coined by the historian Vincent Scully in 1955.
Oak Alley synthesizes architecture and landscape. The Greek Revival house is at the end of parallel rows of 28 magnificent oaks that form a pathway to the Mississippi River. Builders used several techniques to mitigate the southern heat: tall windows and doors that face each other for a cross-breeze; shaded arcades that shield interior rooms; and high ceilings.
Built with its columned portico, or porch, facing the city’s main square, this structure originally housed public chambers as well as private rooms for the Spanish governor and his family. Organized around a courtyard, the palace was made from adobe bricks, a material especially suited to desert heat.
Philip Johnson’s weekend retreat, which he built for himself, is a boldly modernist, anti-cozy vision of domesticity. Its full-height glass walls enclose a single, open room; a cylindrical brick core contains a fireplace and provides limited privacy. The design took inspiration from the modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.