Abrahms House

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  • Abrahms House from the street. (Hedrich-Blessing photo, n.d.) Abrahms House from the street. (Hedrich-Blessing photo, n.d.)
  • plan plan
  • Entrance foyer and cantilevered concrete stairwell. (Hedrich-Blessing photo, n.d.) Entrance foyer and cantilevered concrete stairwell. (Hedrich-Blessing photo, n.d.)
  • View of the dining area. To the left is the orchardarium greenhouse. (HB photo) View of the dining area. To the left is the orchardarium greenhouse. (HB photo)

we were going to use simple materials and achieve a kind of aesthetic beauty the Greeks didn't have---out of steel out of glass.Oral history

Goldberg's design for the Abrahms House created a distinctly modern look by balancing the use of traditionally "cold" materials--glass and steel--with traditionally "warm" materials--wood and brick. The combination created a richly textured exterior, accentuated by the complex massing of the building. The two-story home featured a living room, study, dining area, kitchen, and garage on the main floor, with four bedrooms and an outdoor terrace on the second. A unique feature of the house was the first-floor flower conservatory, designed to accommodate the client's large orchid collection. The walls and roof of the conservatory--supported by thin cables suspended from exposed floor joists on the second story--hint at his later work, such as the Clark-Maple Gas Station, North Pole Ice Cream store and the Mobile Penicillin Unit, which also featured suspended roof structures.

The design reflects the influence of his work with Keck and Keck, Paul Schweiker, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and his training at the Bauhaus. In describing the architectural aesthetic he and his contemporaries were trying to achieve, Goldberg remarked, "we were going to use simple materials and achieve a kind of aesthetic beauty the Greeks didn't have---out of steel out of glass." Rather than disguising the materials, they strove to express their simple beauty.