Listing of the Week: Louis Kahn's interlocked cubes
The architect and homeowners spent seven years working on the design before building the home in 1967 outside Philadelphia.
One of a handful of homes designed by the famous Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn will be sold next month.
The Fisher House, in the Philadelphia suburb of Hatboro, Pa., built in 1967, is for sale by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which will maintain an easement to preserve the home.
This is the first time the home has been listed. The house is 1,891 square feet on 2.69 acres. It has four bedrooms and two and a half baths.
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The home was commissioned in 1960 by Dr. Norman Fisher and his wife, Doris, who lived nearby with their two daughters. The design process was long, and the family didn't move in until seven years later.
A University of Pennsylvania master's thesis by Pierson William Booher details the work that went into the design and includes drawings of the five plans that Kahn developed over the years. The house, clad in tidewater cypress on a stone foundation, cost $45,000 to build.
Kahn was actually the second architect considered for the job, after the couple didn't like the first. Booher's thesis quotes a conversation between Doris Fisher and Kahn in 1970. She told him: "We spoke to lesser men who were very adamant in their approach — not aesthetic — but in certain things they thought had to be done with no consideration for the clients’ needs and we didn’t feel you would think that way."
The house is essentially two cubes. One contains the bedroom areas, and the other the living areas and kitchen. A detached third cube is a storage shed. You can see more photos at Curbed Philadelphia.
Kahn once said: "I always start with a square, no matter what the problem is."
Kahn was noted for his melding of classic and modern styles. Around the time he was working on the Fishers' house, he designed the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif., and the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, among other projects.
The house is listed with Janice Manzi and Louise D'Alessandro of Elfant Wissahickon Realtors in Philadelphia. Rather than setting a price, the company is accepting bids from Wednesday through Aug. 21. An open house is scheduled 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Registration is required to attend.
Liz Spikol of Curbed Philadelphia visited the house in March, when the Fishers' daughters held an estate sale. She wrote:
Though Kahn's critics accuse him of being too sterile, what struck us most powerfully about the house was how warm it seemed, and how open and connected to the natural world around it. Being inside with the light streaming in, the windows serving as picture frames for the trees and creek outside, it even felt cozy.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.