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Bunny Williams and David Ellison refined and finished the design and construction of this new home in Indianapolis between 2003 and 2007. Linden House is the realization of a long held dream of the Owner for an Italian-style house in America that would serve as a venue for private concerts and gatherings while enriching the cultural life of the city.
The design is informed by the work of Italian renaissance Architect Andrea Palladio. Classical proportions and vocabulary lend a familiar and coherent architectural language that is as clear and vibrant today as it was 500 years ago. The basic principles of order, usefulness and beauty apply to the house, its details and its outbuildings.
The owner’s intention was to create a place evocative of the great European villas built and inspired by Andrea Palladio, where music and art, good conversation, eating and drinking could blend and become the background for enjoyment and the creation of memories. The design and construction of Linden House posed several unusual problems. From the outset, it was understood that it was not to be an ordinary house. Early designers of the project, John Saladino, Vicente Wolf and others, set forward bold propositions, but failed to complete their work. Midway through construction a new design team consisting of Bunny Williams and David Ellison inherited a reinforced concrete foundation already in the ground and a set of structural steel shop drawings upon which to base their final design work. Ultimately Bunny, David and the architect of record, Paul Muller of Cincinnati, realized the final project.
The owner’s requirement that the building have a European appearance and feel required a change of approach for many of the workmen and designers involved. The architect of record was challenged to draw and specify something that would have a traditional appearance while using modern construction techniques and practices. Tradespeople were asked to execute work using ancient techniques and materials rather than their normal practices. Plaster and stucco that wasn’t perfectly smooth and flat, with colored pigments blended into it, solid stone steps stacked one on top of another to build a set of stairs, and a three-foot-deep solid limestone cornice sitting above a thirty-foot-high wall, each posed unusual challenges for a construction industry geared toward light-weight modern buildings.
At every turn, the owner required the appearance of simplicity and a lack of over-done decoration and detail. Classical proportions and vocabulary form a coherent architectural language. Whether in a palatial villa or in an outlying service garage, the same principles of order, usefulness and beauty apply. Simplicity of resolution in the precise details and observation of historical precedent strengthen the architectural concept and effect.