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International Lead and Zinc Research (ILZRO) House

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ILZRO
1973–1976, Marc Harrison, Kent Keegan, and Barry Fitzpatrick, designers. 22 Balcom Rd. (not visible)

This prefabricated house, hidden in the trees, uses steel framing and modular metal insulated panels to demonstrate the virtues of lead and zinc for home building. A team at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence captained by a professor of industrial design, Mark Harrison, developed it as a prototype that could be built from a kit of parts allowing innumerable variations (and even a traditional appearance, if desired). Using the pewter gray natural to lead as a surface for the interlocked panels, and openings banded in silver natural for zinc (with corners rounded as in the windows of cars and trains), this industrial house fits nicely in its woodsy setting. The slight elevation of the house on a wooden deck, three steps above the forest floor, gives a sense of being slightly suspended in the woods. Modular packages for heating plant, closets, and a “greenhouse bar” are attached to the basic rectangular volume of the house like saddlebags to a horse. Other boxlike service packages form pent-roof monitors for top lighting. The house contains all of its original interior fittings, including furniture custom designed by the RISD team. This modest retreat, which makes uncompromising use of high-tech components for rustic effect, mediating between the realms of architecture and industrial design, is among the modern buildings of consequence in the state. It thus far remains in the realms of experiment and promotion, although variants had been built at the time on sites as far apart as Pittsburgh and Peru.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.

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