J. Ford House
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Architect Marcel Breuer
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Location Lincoln, Massachusetts   map
Date 1939   timeline
Building Type house
 Construction System light wood frame
Climate temperate
Context rural
Style Modern
Notes shading overhang, part solid, part louver






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Discussion J. Ford House Commentary

"The Massachusetts house by Gropius and Breuer is planned with admirable logic. All major rooms, including the too often neglected kitchen, face south and the pleasantest view. Their arrangement in a long narrow block, uninterrupted by a stair well, made for extremely economical framing. The arrangement of the four bathrooms on one stack was also a notable economy, achieved without sacrifice of convenience. More difficult to detect in the plans is the wonderfully pleasant scale of the interior. Outside, the quiet, rather severe outlines and chaste white-painted surfaces are animated by the vertical joints of the narrow wall boards and by the shadow-casting open work of the slatted sunblind over the bedroom windows and the trellis in front of the living room, while the irregularity of the dry-laid stone wall serves to emphasize the reasoned geometry of the structure behind."

— from J.M. Richards and Elizabeth B. Mock. An Introduction to Modern Architecture. p123.

"The plan is superbly rational. Disposition of rooms in one narrow block, unbroken by a stairwell, means that single, uninterrupted rows of joists can cover the uniform span. A second advantage is that all major rooms can face the south and overlook an adjacent forest.

"The projecting blinds which shield the broad windows from the high summer sun are a lively accent to the smooth white-boarded walls.

"The house is gracious in scale, and the living room has a fine and easy flow of space. Smoothly joined panels of gray-painted plywood cover ceilings and walls."

— from Elizabeth Mock, ed. Built in the USA Since 1932. p39.

The Creator's Words

"A building is a man-made work, a crystallic, constructed thing. It should not imitate nature—it should be in contrast to nature. A building has straight, geometric lines. Even where it follows free lines, it should be always clear that they are built—that they did not just grow. I can see no reason at all why buildings should imitate natural, organic or grown forms.

"...I feel it is a great mistake either to adapt building forms to organic forms, or to adapt natural forms to the crystallic, geometric forms of architecture, as it was done in the Rococo period....

"...And finally, this principle of contrast operates most importantly in the way we use color in the landscape. For example, I think the one color that should be avoided most in our kind of landscape is the color green—because much of our landscape is green. And in a landscape that is full of vivid, many-shaded, lively greens, a flat, painted green will look rather dead. In a landscape in which reds or yellows predominate, green might be a very beautiful architectural color to use....

"...When the house is located on top of a hill it should not be a house made almost entirely of big glass walls, because the skyglare is so blinding that life in such a house would be intolerable. But when we go down into the valley, then the house can easily have large walls of glass because the hillside, opposite the walls of glass—even a hillside half a mile away—helps to protect our eye against skyglare. No nerve can relax if the eye is not comfortable."

— Marcel Breuer. from Peter Blake, Ed. Marcel Breuer: Sun and Shadow The Philosophy of an Architect. p38-40.

Sources on J. Ford House

"Classic Home 061", by ArchitectureWeek, ArchitectureWeek No. 279, 2006.0315, pH1.

Peter Blake. Marcel Breuer, Architect and Designer. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1949. exterior photo of house and patio, p65, plate 124.

Peter Blake, ed. Marcel Breuer: Sun and Shadow, The Philosophy of an Architect. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1955. LC 55-9928. NA737.B68B56. discussion p38-40.

Edward Ford. The Details of Modern Architecture. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1990. ISBN 0-262-06121-X. exterior photo, f10.44, structure axon, f10.45, p316.   Highly recommended for serious observers, and available at Amazon.com

Elizabeth Mock, ed. Built in the USA Since 1932. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1945. LC 68-57299. NA712.N45 1968. discussion p39.

J.M. Richards and Elizabeth B. Mock. An Introduction to Modern Architecture. New York: Penguin Books, 1947. NA680.R5 1947. discussion p123.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at Amazon.com

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