Villa Newman

Montgomery, Alabama

with Michael Gamble

This residence derives its spirit from the mythos and stories of the culture and environment in which it is constructed. The principal players in this reinvested myth of Montgomery, Alabama are the owners and their art collection, the Greek goddess Hebe, symbol of the City of Montgomery and the writing of that city's native daughter, Zelda Fitzgerald.

The serpentine banks of the Alabama River are a metaphor for the major circulation through the house. The curved art display wall flows past the rain cistern, the octagonal sitting room, and the formal dining room. This river unites the public realm of the house with the private as it inflects through the main living room and terminates around the reflecting pool in the backyard. The orthogonal north/south grid of the city is represented in the square and rectangular rooms which constitute the primary spaces of the house, i.e. the courtyard, library, main living space, formal dining, and the master suite. The southern veranda is traditionally a room for the setting sun, a quality poignantly described in Zelda Fitzgerald's short story, Southern Girl. The exterior courtyard serves as a space of contemplation, the rectangular entrance vestibule is an investigation of the golden mean, and the octagonal sitting room is based upon Vitruvius' "Tower of the Winds"-an archetypal model of the ritual associated with the founding of towns and cities throughout history.

The major materials are northern Alabama limestone and traditional stucco on the exterior with white Alabama marble at selected places on the interior. Trees removed from the site were used as interior trim throughout the house. Local artisans fabricated the steel rails and gates. The structure of the house is slab on grade, platform framed with southern yellow pine managed, grown, and milled in the state.

Newman_roof 1.jpeg