Located on a corner lot in a suburban neighborhood, the Donald Pollock House, built by Bruce Goff in 1957, is defined by two detached buildings connected by a walkway over a reflecting pool. One of these buildings is the house and the other is a detached studio (originally a garage) surmounted by a screened porch. The house is composed of nine modules measuring fourteen by fourteen feet, with interlocking volumes that are clustered in a matrix of three by three modules. In plan, the exterior walls of each of the perimeter matrix modules are rotated at a forty-five degree angle to overlap two square stone plinths of rough-faced grey green limestone and to establish an angled configuration. Each module has a hip roof sheathed in dark-grey composition shingles with an individual pyramidal skylight at its apex. Planes of the hip roofs at the perimeter are extended over the rotated walls toward the ground to mirror the form above. The visual effect of this geometric manipulation is one of a rhythm of independent diamond-shaped roofs that are connected at the corners. The interior of the house is an open-plan with the kitchen established as the central focal point of the composition. The repeating modules are each given their own identity with a pyramidal ceiling, corresponding to the geometry of the roof, and each is capped with a pyramidal skylight.
The garage building, since converted to a studio, is linked to the house visually by a walkway between reflecting pools on either side. A translucent faceted plastic roof made of panels of blue-green fiberglass covers a large screened porch on the studio roof and a walkway to the entry of the house. Creating an angled motif, the plastic panels form a smaller version of the gemstone roofline of the house.
That roofline, which Goff designed as a series of diamond shapes aligned side by side like the square modules in plan, dominates the composition with a crystalline appearance. With the deep overhanging eaves of the perimeter modules, the illusion of these diamond-shaped planes floating autonomously in space is magnified. The screened porch atop the studio with its black-painted lattice is a variation of a geometric theme but with contrasting qualities. The house is opaque and visually impenetrable, but the screened porch, repeating the diamond motif, is open, transparent, and inviting. It is this play of opposites that, in part, gives Goff’s architecture a compelling quality of mystery.
The interior of the house further reinforces the crystalline geometry. The scale is smaller and more delicate, however, and all of the elements of design are given greater clarity and precise definition. Though the house appears small on the exterior, with an open-plan and the ceiling of each module sloping to a pyramidal skylight, Goff created a sense of interior spaciousness that belies the actual size. The design reflects his extraordinary skill at manipulating geometry to establish a unique continuum of form and space with a sense of repose. Yet it is also a composition tempered by contextual restraint as the scale of the house harmonizes with the surrounding suburban neighborhood. Goff was thus able to create a composition of two design imperatives, one of individually tailored to the needs and aspirations of the client and one of acknowledge of the context.
In 1966, Joe and Laura Warriner purchased the house from the Pollocks and hired Goff to remodel the interior. Goff removed several folding screens that had defined the modules and separated the areas of the house into zones. The Pollocks had two children and these zones had provided greater privacy; the Warriners, who had no children, preferred a more open plan. Goff also replaced two of the exterior module walls with glass, with one facing the garden and the other the entryway. In the primary living zone, Goff created a recessed area with a fireplace and built-in seating. He also replaced the flooring with green-black and gray-white marble tiles laid in a checkerboard pattern. It was during this remodeling that Goff converted the garage into a studio for Laura. The Warriners also hired local landscape architect Warren Edwards to develop a comprehensive design for the yard. Reflecting pools designed by Goff enclosed the garden and repeated the geometric theme of the house.
The house remains a private residence.
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