Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Beyond Gorgeous

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of checking another famous modern house off my lifetime list: the J. Irwin and Xenia Miller House in Columbus, IN, about which I first wrote in 2006. The house was opened to the public in 2011, when it became part of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and I published this account of its creation and significance then. Having studied the house for different projects over the years, it did not surprise me in person. The colors are as vibrant, the details as clever, the combination of lushness, personality and modernity as striking as I imagined. One material choice I never understood was the dark slate panels on the exterior: why not just make it white? But when you see the house in person, you understand the single-story facade as a dark band, designed to be recessive. The slate blends with the glass, which is reflective and backed with fretted drapes, many made by Jack Lenor Larsen, with gray and metallic threads. The roof and the surrounding patio read as white, flating planes. You pass through the dark band and enter a house that is all white, expansive, dotted with color. The contrast is extreme and unlike that of outside/inside in a glass house.