Miller House Indiana, Columbus Building, Eero Saarinen Residence, Modern US Home
Miller House, Columbus
Eero Saarinen Building in Indiana, USA – Modernist American Residence
Apr 11, 2014 + May 10, 2011
Miller House Indiana
Miller House and Garden, Columbus, Indiana, USA
Date built: 1953
Design: Eero Saarinen ; Alexander Girard ; Dan Kiley
MILLER HOUSE AND GARDEN IN COLUMBUS, INDIANA TO OPEN FOR PUBLIC TOURS IN MAY 2011
Modernist National Historic Landmark Designed By Saarinen, With Interiors by Girard and Landscape Design by Kiley
Miller House is one of the country’s most highly-regarded examples of mid-century Modernist residences and was designed by Eero Saarinen, with interiors by Alexander Girard, and landscape design by Dan Kiley.
Photos Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art
Members of the Miller family donated the house and gardens, along with many of its original furnishings, to the Museum. Additionally, members of the Miller family and the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation have donated $5 million to establish an endowment for the house and surrounding grounds.
Members of the Miller family donated the house and gardens, along with many of its original furnishings, to the Museum. Additionally, members of the Miller family and the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation have donated $5 million to establish an endowment for the house and surrounding grounds. The IMA is working with the Columbus Area Visitors Center to offer public access to the house and gardens beginning May 10, 2011. Visitors will be able to purchase tickets online beginning April 1, 2011. Tickets are available at www.imamuseum.org and at www.columbus.in.us. To order by phone, visitors may call (800) 468-6564.
“Miller House showcases the work of leading 20th-century architects and designers and we believe that it’s important to preserve this internationally known jewel in the Columbus, Indiana, community,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. “We look forward to making this significant Modernist landmark available to the public.”
Commissioned by industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller and his wife Xenia Simons Miller in 1953, Miller House and Garden was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000. The house expands upon an architectural tradition developed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe—epitomizing the international Modernist aesthetic—with an open and flowing layout, flat roof and monumental stone and glass walls. The rooms, configured beneath a grid pattern of skylights supported by cruciform steel columns, are filled with strong colors and playful patterns. Amid the residence’s large geometric gardens, its grandest feature is an allée of honey locust trees that runs along the west side of the house. Miller House was the first designated National Historic Landmark listed with a still-living landscape architect that also was still occupied by its original owners at the date of its designation.
Columbus, Ind., is ranked sixth in the nation by the American Institute of Architects for architectural innovation and design. National Geographic Traveler ranked Columbus as America’s most significant historic place on the strength of its architectural heritage. As a way to attract outstanding architectural talent to design civic buildings in the central Indiana community of Columbus, Miller created the Architectural Program within the Cummins Foundation. Miller met Eero Saarinen during the construction of the First Christian Church in Columbus, which was designed by Saarinen’s father Eliel. Eero Saarinen helped Miller design the Architectural Program and recruit rising young architectural talent to participate in the 1950s. In addition to the Architectural Program, which funded excellent design for public buildings, Cummins, other businesses and many churches in Columbus adopted the same strategy of using good design to create a more economically vibrant and livable city. Today there are more than 70 buildings by noted modern architects—such as I. M. Pei, Cesar Pelli, Robert Venturi, Richard Meier, John Carl Warnecke and Harry Weese—in the city, as well as public art works by internationally renowned architects and artists.
Miller House and Garden Tours
Tours are offered daily Tuesday through Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m., and Sundays at 1 p.m.; visitors should arrive at the Visitors Center at least 30 minutes before their scheduled tour time. Miller House is closed Mondays. In December, January and February tours are only available on Saturdays at 1 and 3 p.m. Tours last approximately one hour, and no photography is permitted. Due to limited capacity, advanced reservations are strongly encouraged; tickets are available online at www.imamuseum.org and at www.columbus.in.us beginning April 1, 2011. Tickets are $20 per person. To order by phone or to book a group tour, visitors may call (800) 468- 6564. Special tour opportunities are available for members of Friends of Miller House. For more information regarding Friends of Miller House, visit www.imamuseum.org. Tours at Miller House and Garden are made possible through the Columbus Area Visitors Center. Tours depart from the Columbus Area Visitors Center (506 Fifth Street, Columbus, Ind.), and all visitors are transported on an accessible shuttle. No private vehicles may be driven to Miller House.
Miller House Symposium
In celebration of the opening of Miller House and Garden to public tours, the IMA will host a symposium with some of America’s leading design experts exploring the legacy of Miller House and Garden. The symposium will be held on May 20, 2011, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Tobias Theater. Speakers include architect Deborah Berke, interior designer and writer Brad Dunning, landscape architect Laurie Olin, critic Suzanne Stephens, and Bradley Brooks of the IMA. The day’s talks will respond to the individual design elements that combine to make Miller House a singular masterpiece. Presented by the IMA Design Arts Society in partnership with Indiana Landmarks and the American Society of Landscape Architects. This program is made possible by the Myrtie Shumacker Lecture Fund. Tickets are $50 public, $30 members of IMA, Indiana Landmarks and ASLA, and $25 students. More information is available online at www.imamuseum.org/miller-house/miller-house-symposium.
J. Irwin Miller and Xenia Simons Miller
In addition to being a patron of modern architecture, Joseph Irwin Miller was a philanthropist and industrialist best-known for his civic activism. A lay leader in the Christian ecumenical and civil rights movements, he was the first layman to be President of the National Council of Churches and was a strong advocate for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (working with Martin Luther King Jr. to organize the March on Washington). Miller was instrumental in the rise of Cummins Inc.—founded by his great-uncle—which builds diesel engines in Columbus, Ind. Although beset with early difficulties, under Miller’s leadership the company persevered to become the leading independent diesel manufacturer in the world. He attended Yale University for his undergraduate studies and later received a master’s degree from Oxford University. In 1943, Miller married Xenia Simons, the daughter of Luther A. Simons, the owner of an Indiana furniture manufacturing company. Mrs. Miller worked closely with Alexander Girard on many interior aspects of Miller House.
Eero Saarinen was one of the outstanding American architects and designers of the 20th century. He worked fluently within the austere geometry of international Modernism, but also created highly expressive and boldly sculptural buildings. He designed such landmarks as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (St. Louis Arch), Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., and the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. Kevin Roche, Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect, became Saarinen’s principal design associate when he joined Eero Saarinen and Associates in 1950, and Roche played a significant role in the design of Miller House as well as many other Saarinen projects.
Dan Kiley’s work has been compared with that of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and the DeStijl School of Art and Architecture, notably the work of Piet Mondrian. Kiley’s landscapes are highly structured geometric compositions that use three-dimensional natural elements as spatial enclosures. One of the earliest collaborations between Kiley and Saarinen was the winning submission for the 1947 Jefferson Expansion Memorial Competition in St. Louis. Kiley’s commissions with Eero Saarinen included Concordia College (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., Stiles and Morse Colleges (New Haven, CT) and North Christian Church (Columbus, Ind.). Kiley is a recipient of the Arnold W. Brunner Prize in Architecture (1995) and the National Medal of Arts (1997).
Trained at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London and at the Royal School of Architecture in Rome, Alexander Girard’s early associations with Eero Saarinen included his work as a collaborator on the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (St. Louis Arch) design team. He also served as a color consultant on the General Motors Technical Center (1948-1956) and on the Miller Cottage (1950-1952) in Ontario. In 1952, Girard became design director of the textile division of the furniture manufacturing firm of Herman Miller, which had been producing the designs of Charles and Ray Eames (who also designed furniture for the Miller House) since the late 1940s.
Design at the IMA
The IMA’s Department of Design Arts focuses on collecting, preserving and interpreting modern design from an international perspective. In October 2007, R. Craig Miller joined the IMA as Curator of Design Arts and Director of Design Initiatives, following 17 years as Curator of the Department of Architecture, Design & Graphics at the Denver Art Museum. Since arriving at the IMA, Miller has ambitiously embarked on many design initiatives, including the acquisition of more than 535 objects for the IMA’s collection and the opening in October 2008 of a new Design Gallery (the Lori Efroymson Aguilera & Sergio Aguilera Gallery). This gallery is a laboratory for exploring many of the conceptual and aesthetic ideas that have shaped modern design. The IMA has announced that the design arts collection will move to a larger gallery in fall 2012. In the spring of 2009, the IMA premiered the exhibition European Design Since 1985: Shaping The New Century, which was organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Denver Art Museum in conjunction with Kingston University, London. The exhibition traveled to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Milwaukee Art Museum.
General IMA Information
Encompassing 152 acres of gardens and grounds, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is among the 10 largest encyclopedic art museums in the United States, and features significant collections of African, American, Asian, European and contemporary art, as well as a newly established collection of design arts. The IMA offers visitors an expansive view of arts and culture through its collection of more than 54,000 works of art that span 5,000 years of history from across the world’s continents. The collections include paintings, sculpture, furniture and design objects, prints, drawings and photographs, as well as textiles and costumes.
Additionally, art, design, and nature are featured at 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park and Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens, an historic Country Place Era estate on the IMA grounds. Beyond the Indianapolis campus, in May 2011 the IMA will open to the public the recently acquired landmark Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana. One of the country’s most highly regarded examples of mid-century Modernist residences, Miller House was designed by Eero Saarinen, with interiors by Alexander Girard, and landscape design by Daniel Urban Kiley.
Recognizing the IMA’s positive impact on its community, the Museum was named a 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Services – the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries. The IMA’s commitment to free general admission, programming for schools and teachers, environmental leadership and online initiatives were among cited community contributions in the Museum’s selection for the award.
Location: Columbus, Indiana, USA
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