Frank Lloyd Wright’s La Miniatura in Pasadena, California, 1923

La Miniatura was the first house to be built using Wright’s method of concrete textile block construction. Built in 1923, the house lies in a low ravine in the City of Pasadena. Alice Millard knew Wright from many years before when the architect built a house for Alice and her husband George in 1906 in Highland Park, Illinois.

The Millard’s were collectors and dealers of rare books. They moved to Pasadena in 1908, and after her husband’s death, Alice continued the book business. She commissioned Wright design her house and book studio. The house was constructed using stylized concrete blocks that were hollow. The concrete blocks were lined up and stacked upon one another. Outer and inner walls were created with an air space in between. Wright’s later concrete textile block houses used steel to reinforce the concrete blocks, furthering the idea of the architecture as textile.The primary design on the concrete blocks is an indented cross. Some of the blocks are highly stylized, some are plain, and some have glass inside that allow light into the building during the day, while whimsical light patterns exude from the house at night.  

This new method of construction was used in many of Wright’s later Los Angeles houses, and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. La Miniatura is very much connected to its site and blends in with the surrounding nature. The concrete blocks were created using sand from the site to blend the color scheme with that of the environment.

Wright originally designed the house with a book studio, but it was not built until 1926 and was largely carried out by Wright’s son Lloyd Wright.

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