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May 2006


FEATURES

Revolution in Design
by Fred A. Bernstein
photographs by Laura Moss

ARCHITECT AL SALSANO GIVES A ROTATING, SPACE-AGE RESIDENCE A FRESH SPIN

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Some days, the stairway opens into the living room. Other days, it leads directly to the master bedroom.

The stairway in question doesn't move, but the house surrounding it does—it rotates, a unique design that allows inhabitants to select breezes, light and views at the touch of a button. Designed in 1968 by Richard Foster, a longtime partner of Philip Johnson, it may be one of the few round houses that lends itself to gracious living. (Among the other types of round dwellings are geodesic domes and yurts, inspired by Turkish circular domed tents.)

To Foster, the turntable building was a logical response to its hilly site in Wilton. By placing the house atop a narrow stem, which contains the front door and the spiral stairway, he was able to leave most of the landscape undisturbed. A boxy house, built into the hillside, would have meant disturbing nature to a far greater degree.

Then, too, the property offered fabulous views in every direction, and Foster wanted to take advantage of them all. A typical day might include reading in a sun-filled library, dining by sunset, then relaxing to a view of the moon reflected in the reservoir below. But the advantages aren't all aesthetic.

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