Revolving Home Presents challenge in Service Hookups to Designer

Vancouver Washington Columbian

Vivian Brown
November, 1967

For awhile, architect Richard Foster thought he would have to use ship-to-shore telephones in his unique revolving round house being built in Wilton, Conn.

Water, electricity, heat and waste disposal, too, presented dilemmas in a rotating house. The glass and steel house, 72 feet in diameter, rests on a core of ‘precast concrete that is 12 feet high. It will rotate from 9 inches to 5 feet a minute on the outer periphery with an infinite variety of speeds in between above a three-ton ball bearing assembly. The bearing, 14 feet in diameter, is set in a raceway above the core. Power is supplied by a 1.5 H.P. electric motor.

“Mounting it on the ball bearing proved to be about the easiest task so far,” Foster explains. Architectural feats are not new for Foster. He was the architectural coordinator of the Seagram’s Building in New York City, a showcase Or glass and steel, and in his 17 years as as architect-14 with former partner, Philip Johnson—he has been involved in planning other unusual buildings.

“But this is the first time I’ve ever been involved in a rotating house. I don’t even know of an-other,” explained Foster at the site. He is playing ‘the pro’ more or less by ear, making drawings as he goes along.

He and one man, German contractor William Mewing of Larchmont, N.Y., have been doing the house together. They call in help when it is needed. Foster works on weekends when he also makes decisions—telephone and electricity will go on trolleys that have swinging’ joints; water will be piped to the roof. Now they are building cement troughs in the ground hoping it will be the answer to waste disposal.

“I didn’t plan the house so that we could go riding. It was planned ,so, that we could take advantage of the varied and beautiful views,” he explains. “We didn’t try to capture the sun. There didn’t seem to be any point in it.”

Sites Critical
Foster believes that all houses should be planned to take advantage of the sites that they are to be on. He was’ so impressed with this four-acre site that he couldn’t quite make up his mind what house would suit it best. The round house is his fifth.

Forty-five-tons of rusting steel’ have gone into the house. Its truncated cone shaped ceiling and entrance door through a core shaped lily a tree trunk makes it look like a giant mush room at this stage. A circular stairway leads to nine rooms set in the 60-foot diameter living area. Glass panels between steel columns are to be set in aluminum frames, every other one sliding. There is a veranda on the outer periphery.

The entrance core, roof area and sofits will be finished in silver-bleached cedar ‘shingles. Foster like the fluidity of lam that shingles permit.

Foster lives with his wife and three sons, who are now away at school, in a house not far from the new one.