Largest and Most Significant

With four levels of living space, a twenty by forty foot indoor swimming pool and a rooftop dance floor, the Frank House was Gropius and Breuer’s largest and most important residence. The main building encloses 12,000 square feet in area, complete with curved glass facade, five terraces, nine bedrooms and 13 bathrooms. Including the terraces that are part of the house, it totals 17,000 square feet. The stonework of the exterior walls and the dramatic glass-block entry of this innovative house suggest a detailed and richly textured building. Inside, graceful curves prevail; walls are paneled with warm pearwood, English sycamore, and redwood, or are travertine or stone.

The great three-story window wall swells in the facade behind the circular stair which sweeps visitors from the ground floor entry and recreational area to the first-floor living area and then continues to rise to the family bedroom level. The sensuously curved cantilevered main stair is the first embodiment of all the cantilevered stairs of independent slab risers that Breuer would make a signature of his American work. The theme is echoed in a sculptural outside stair of concrete taking visitors from the front to the back garden via an open terrace, an alternative dramatic path through the house. Perception of the house includes both theatricality of approach and intimacy of scale. Effects are achieved through natural materials set in contrast with man-made products, through contrasts of light and heavy, closed and open, and through dramatic lighting and staging of movement on the wooded sloping site.

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