La Miniatura, the Millard House in Pasadena, is the earliest in a series known as the Textile Block houses, designed by Wright in the 1920s; all are located in southern California. This color rendering depicts the Millard House in its lush surroundings. The house is constructed of a combination of plain-faced and ornamental concrete blocks, which were cast on the site from molds designed by Wright. The square blocks, with perforated, glass-filled apertures, form a continuous interior and exterior fabric. The relatively small scale of the blocks allows for a design that closely follows the contours of the landscape.
In his autobiography, Wright wrote: “The concrete block? The cheapest (and ugliest) thing in the building world… . Why not see what could be done with that gutter-rat?” In his Textile Block houses, Wright attempted to introduce a flexible building system, marrying the merits of standardized machine production to the innovative, creative vision of the artist. While the block system was intended to be an efficient, low-cost method of building that incorporated ornament, it proved to be time consuming and more expensive than traditional construction.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art , MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 170.
The romance that Frank Lloyd Wright found in the landscape and climate of Southern California is captured in his seductive rendering of “La Miniatura” – the name he gave to the small house he designed for Mrs. George Madison Millard. The perspective from the garden depicts the house in its lush surroundings, enshrouded by trees and overlooking a small pond. Wright recounted his discovery of the site in his autobiography: “My eyes had fallen upon a ravishing ravine … in which stood two beautiful eucalyptus trees… . No one would want to build down in a ravine out there.” Color pencil was Wright’s favorite drawing medium, and it was well suited for this impressionistic picture.
La Miniatura was the first in a series known as the Textile Block houses that Wright designed in the 1920s. It is constructed out of a combination of plain-faced and ornamental concrete blocks, which were cast on site from molds designed by Wright. These square blocks, some of them perforated with glass-filled apertures, form a continuous interior and exterior fabric, and their relatively small scale allows for a design that closely follows the contours of the landscape. The rendering shows how the house relates to the site, and how the intricate decoration of the textured blocks echoes the dappled light of the dense foliage.
In his Textile Block houses Wright attempted to develop a flexible building system, marrying the merits of standardized machine production to his own innovative creative vision. As such, La Miniatura brilliantly reflects his intention to create what he described as “a distinctly genuine expression of California in terms of modern industry and American life.”
Publication excerpt from an essay by Peter Reed, in Matilda McQuaid, ed., Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 62.