LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Frank Lloyd Wright's Magnificent Miniatura


We take a look at La Miniatura, the residential masterpiece of Frank Lloyd Wright - America’s most pre-eminent architect - as iconic modernist houses designed by mid-century architects are creating a market akin to fine art.

We would dream of a life surrounded by fine works of art, but imagine living within one? That’s exactly what the American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, created, making him one of the world’s most pre-eminent architects of the 20th century. While the art market may be shaky, savvy cultural connoisseurs are investing in iconic architecture from leading lights of the early 20th century. “Although most of our buyers come to us looking for a property to live in, in recent years there has grown to be a number of very sophisticated investors who has not only had a passion for the built environment, but have also wanted to leave their mark on it by restoring important buildings which have suffered over the years. These buyers have recognized the glaring disparity in prices between, say, an Andy Warhol painting, versus an internationally celebrated work of architecture, and have decided that rather than the stock market, or art, that this market is an excellent place to park some of their capital.” Explains Crosby Doe, a Los Angeles-based real estate agent specializing in architectural homes, including La Miniatura.

Lloyd Wright designed four homes in Los Angeles, but it is the 1923 Millard residence in Pasadena, also known as La Miniatura, that became the most noteworthy of these projects and indeed, remains one of the most celebrated built structures of his career. The history of the home begins in 1906, when Frank Lloyd Wright designed a home for the rare books dealer George Millard and his wife Alice. Following her husband’s death, in the early 1920s Alice Millard approached the architect once again to create a new home for the widow. The project offered the architect the opportunity to re-visit past techniques, namely the use of patterned concrete blocks, with which he had experimented on a former project in Hollywood and Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, which was demolished in 1968.

Inspired by a passion for Japanese art, following Lloyd Wright’s first visit to Japan in 1905,
the tall vertical windows that flank the main area of the home feature screen-like frames and carved blocks, inspired by Pre-Columbian motifs, which filter the light, casting a dappled shadow that reflect its lush surroundings. Following in the theme of Lloyd Wright’s signature ‘organic’ approach toward architecture, creating a seamless flow between interior and exterior, the architect integrated materials gleaned from the site into the cement, and motif tiles that decorate the interior spaces mirror the external façade. The architect’s son landscaped the beautiful verdant environ to complement the natural mood of the home.

The sale of Miniatura is a rare opportunity to acquire a true masterpiece from a man hailed as “The greatest American architect of all time”. As Doe explains, “Wright’s most famous works rarely, if ever come on the market, and with the best being acquired by foundations, and with the current museum interest, many of the most significant works will no longer exist within the private domain. The California body of work ranks at the top of Wright’s creative genius, and as such is garnering international attention. A number of Frank Lloyd Wright’s more simple Usonian houses have had more of a difficult time in finding buyers, often because of their less popular locations around the country.” Although Frank Lloyd Wright’s most celebrated architecture is considered to be Fallingwater, completed in 1939, Miniatura ranks as a significant example within the architect’s portfolio of more than 500 completed works. As he famously quipped “I would rather have designed that little house than Saint Peter’s in Rome.”

Visit the site of La Miniatura

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