Object Timeline

1989

  • Work on this object began.

2017

2019

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Drawing, Design for a Building Interior, September 1, 1989

This is a Drawing. It was designed by Steven Holl. It is dated September 1, 1989 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is brush and black watercolor, graphite on paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

Drawing is often the first step in architect Steven Holl’s design process. He is known to carry a 5-by-7-inch notebook with him nearly everywhere he goes. Watercolor is a favored medium for Holl to explore volume, light, and space.
This drawing may be an early watercolor sketch for the Stretto House in Dallas, Texas. Completed in 1992, this private residence won the 1992 National AIA Design Award. Conceived as a series of overlapping spaces, the house is composed of four sections, each alternating between two modes: heavy masonry and light, curvilinear metal. The house takes its name from the musical term for alternating sections of percussion and string as depicted in composer Bela Bartok’s “Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta”. Holl envisioned the heavy masonry areas as the drums, and reserved their use for “service areas” like the kitchen, library, stairs and bathrooms. The light-filled areas, representing the violins, were rooms meant for living, including bedrooms, living rooms, and the study, and would have been especially important to the owners of the home, who were art collectors. The watercolor drawing emphasizes the difference between these areas of light and shadow, glass and concrete, with the sunlight streaming from the right side of the drawing bathing the floor in bright, flat white, punctuated by geometric swathes of shadow representing the next level up in the floorplan or shadows cast by the concrete walls.
The unusual stepped floor plan, peppered with floating, banister-less stairs, further emphasizes the dichotomy between the light-filled living spaces and the service areas. While the realized construction does not contain the convex curved skylight shown on the right side of this drawing, the arcing metal roofline allows for Holl’s curvilinear line. The convex skylight in the drawing also relates to an element in a later commission, the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland: the skylight over the “spaghetti” stairs at the museum is a concave reinterpretation of this design element, an interesting repurposing since the display of art was important in both spaces.

This object was donated by Lise Friedman. It is credited From Lise, Ceil, and Zoe Friedman in honor of their mother, Mildred Friedman.

Its dimensions are

16.5 × 12.7 cm (6 1/2 × 5 in.)

It is signed

Signed in graphite, lower left: S. Holl

It is inscribed

Inscribed in graphite, lower left: 9/1/89

Cite this object as

Drawing, Design for a Building Interior, September 1, 1989; Designed by Steven Holl (American, b. 1947); brush and black watercolor, graphite on paper; 16.5 × 12.7 cm (6 1/2 × 5 in.); From Lise, Ceil, and Zoe Friedman in honor of their mother, Mildred Friedman; 2017-69-3

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