Bruce Goff – Ford Residence – Aurora, Illinois (1948)

Update – Tour the Ford House

Save Wright will be holding an open house at the Ford House on July 13 from 3:00 to 6:00. Go to Save Wright for more details.

From LIFE Magazine (1951):

Architect Bruce Goff, one of the few U.S. architects whom Frank Lloyd Wright considers creative, scorns houses that are “boxes with little holes.” But he likes circles, believing that a circle is “an informal, gathering-around, friendly form.” Working on this theory, he designed a house for the Albert Fords of Aurora, lll. which makes most modern houses look quaint.
The house consists of a huge, domed center circle, 166 feet around. and two semicircular bedroom wings, all shaped by steel arches made of standard Quonset ribs. At the base of the center sphere, which is built on three levels, is a curved cannel coal wall, treated against smudging and weathering. For sparkle, this wall is studded with ordinary playing marbles and with numerous 100-pound clusters of bright glass cullets, a hardened waste product periodically cleaned from glass furnaces.
Navy surplus rope covers the horizontal ceilings. Cypress siding, laid in a herringbone pattern, lines part of the domes and walls. There are no windows, so ventilation is provided by hinged louvres and ceiling vents. Chief hazards of the main living space are the glass walls, which carry out Goff’s theory of “space moving inside and out.” To keep guests from trying to follow suit Mrs. Ford is growing succulent plants in ditches outside the glass walls.
The house, which cost $64,000, delights its owners. Mr. Ford, who is a gas-company executive, likes the doorless carport (“No trouble now to put the car away”); Mrs. Ruth Van Sickle Ford, who is the director of the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, is pleased to have a balcony studio where she can paint, a gallery where she can hang pictures and plenty of room where she can entertain-all in a house that requires little care. Friends and curious passers-by are often less delighted. While building was in progress so many people came to gape at what they variously called the “big apple,” “birdcage,” “dome” or “hangar” that the Fords posted a sign reading, “We don’t like your house either.” /4116/4822886616_f9f3e6b29b_z.jpg


MidCentArc Ford House Flickr Set

Bruce Goff bio w/More Links

Paul Ringstrom’s Ford House Set on Flickr

Scenographix, Ltd


15 thoughts on “Bruce Goff – Ford Residence – Aurora, Illinois (1948)

  1. I helped build this house in 1949 & 50. My friend Chuck Holden, (NOW DECEASED<) did the copper work. I myself built the round couch thst was covered in place. I think I may be about the only one left who worked on it? Jim Corbin

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the house may still be owned by an architecture professor from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) who is now involved with Taliesin.


    1. I would love to visit this house, do you happen to know th eowner’s name? I work at UIC and would like to contact him, I read he is very kind about showing the house on request.


  3. I am a local hobby photographer here on the MS Gulf Coast and I photographed the Gryder House back in ’96, in Ocean Springs. The family was very gracious and let me walk the grounds and take all kinds of photos. I shot in B&W on an old Yashica 35mm that my father gave me (he bought in Viet Nam) I shot a series of photos as segments and pieced them together after I colorwashed them (hand painted) If you would like to see a copy, email me and I’ll shoot ya one. We call it the “CAT HOUSE”.


  4. In 1980 I knocked on the door and an English lady (married to someone in the film industry ?) let me and a fellow Architecture student in. Wonderful place.Wonderful hospitality for a pair of travelworn students. Why don’t I do that kind of thing any more ?


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