Lugano Vista was conceived from the pure principles of the Bauhaus Movement; the modernist movement, like the arts and crafts movement, is an intellectual ideal, from those ideals come many beautiful ideas. The Bauhaus movement is grounded in the ideal of art expressed in its most elemental forms wrought from the premise that the inside is out and the outside is in.
Designed by architect John Cunningham of Associated Consulting International (ACi) of Winter Park, Florida, for George Herbst, Vice President and Treasurer of Rollins College and Richard Truitt, attorney and partner at Davis & Truitt, P.A. Herbst previously served as vice president at Cranbrook in Bloomfield, Michigan. Although not trained as an architect, while at Cranbrook he developed an appreciation for architecture as an art form.
Following an unsuccessful attempt to find an affordable classic modern home in the Orlando area, the couple purchased a property in Winter Park at the eastern terminus of Via Lugano. Herbst served with Cunningham on a Winter Park city committee, and knowing their shared passion for architecture, the couple engaged him to design their dream home.
The charge to the architect was to design a site-specific, contributing work of architecture in the tradition of the Bauhaus Movement on the small 75' x 140' lot. The opportunity was to take advantage of the vista created by Via Lugano and the visibility afforded by its location on Temple Drive. The challenge was to create a sculptural work and at the same time a private residence. The design and organization of both the exterior and interior spaces developed from these challenges and opportunities.
Construction on the 3,418 square-foot home began in June 2002 and concluded in May 2003. The house is programmed around an interior courtyard, which sheds light throughout the home. The first floor contains "public" rooms while the second floor is a private retreat. The home is set back from the street by an architecturally contributing auto court, which serves for visitor parking. The front walls and elevation were designed to create a sculpturally layered effect. One enters the home through a hidden Japanese entry court, which also provides visual interest from the adjoining guest room. The white translucent glass in the windows and garage door on the front elevation create a sense of gmystery while providing an abundance of interior light. The home's windows and doors are made of commercial "storefront" material. The side and rear window glass has a green tint.
Its many "special architectural moments" make the home a source of delight and visual excitement. At the same time, its Zen-like qualities give one a sense of peace. The first floor, with its 12' ceiling height, is organized around the interior courtyard. There are few doors, dividing walls that don't go to the ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows on the courtyard side. High windows on the north side shield views of a neighboring home while providing additional light and treetop views. The second floor contains the master suite and an additional bedroom on another level, which also serves as an office. Both rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, which look out on to the courtyard. A free- standing wall behind the master bed shields a door-less closet/dressing area. An exterior spiral stair provides access from the balcony outside of the bedroom/office to the courtyard below. The clean lines of the house are accentuated by the use of reglets to create reveals around doors and windows. The absence of any type of molding enhances the modern, uncluttered look.
Cunningham refers to the home as "museum as house." Words describing the house include white, glass, light and openness. The all white exterior and interior provides the perfect background to display the owners' collection of largely abstract and colorful modern art. The home's natural black slate floors are both in contrast and harmony with its white walls.
"Special moments" include a Mondrian inspired arrangement of red, yellow and blue glass windows in the 28' high stairway. When lit at night it is a work of public art visible from the street. Also to be found is the use of iridescent glass block in a 12" wide vertical penetration through both floors of the home and a frees-standing exterior fireplace enclosure with its 18' exposed chimney pipe. A custom designed five-element waterfall with fiber optic lighting, a patina green-stained concrete deck and a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired screen enclosure provide elements of special interest in the courtyard.