It’s not often that one of the greatest homes ever designed by a leading modernist architect goes up for sale.
Paul Rudolph is best known for designing the daring and divisive Yale Art and Architecture Building, a brutalist concrete wonder in New Haven, Connecticut, along with many other landmark structures. Now, a 1961 Florida residence that exemplifies his style could be yours for a cool $4.4 million USD.
The Milam Residence, located at 1033 Ponte Vedra Boulevard in Ponte Vedra Beach along Florida’s northeastern coast, was custom-designed for attorney and arts patron Arthur Milam. Named “House of the Year” by Architectural Record in 1963, the structure certainly stands out among the more conventional beachfront homes of the area. Most significantly, its facade consists of a mesh of oversized geometric concrete frames that outline views from key locations inside.
Considered to be Rudolph’s most successful residential work, the 6,800-square-foot Milam House is built for entertaining guests who will be dazzled by both the coastal location and the house itself. It includes five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and an attached three-car garage.
This sale represents the first time the home has been available since it was built, since it remained in the family well after Milam’s death. Original photos of the 1960s interiors were made public by the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, but a new video gives us a glimpse at the inside as it looks today.
Here’s the description from the foundation:
“Its distinctive three-dimensional, window-filled east profile is a landmark for pilots, boaters, and beach walkers. Rudolph designed intersecting conversational areas perfect for entertaining. He placed his windows to capture the grand ocean views. Set on 200 feet fronting the ocean, rising over 28 feet above the sea, with secluded entry from Ponte Vedra Bouvlevard, the main house (4/4/2) and guest house (1/1) open to a spacious courtyard. This home is known all over the world. It is the only Rudolph design in northeast Florida. Live in style in the way Florida was meant to be enjoyed!”
In Rudolph’s own words, the house features floors and walls “extended in elaborated forms toward the views, thereby making of the facade a reflection of the interior space. The brises-soleil also serve as mullions for the glass, turning the exterior wall into a series of deep openings filled only with glass. The exceptional wild Florida site 60 feet above the Atlantic Ocean is a counterfoil to the geometry of the structure.”
It’s easy for concrete structures, particularly those of the brutalist persuasion, to look dated to contemporary eyes. But somehow the Milam House looks as fresh as ever, a testament both to the clean, unfussy lines of the design and society’s enduring love for 20th-century modernism.
When Paul Rudolph died, he gave us all a gift that extends beyond the structures he created, donating all of his intellectual property rights to the American people. That gift helped establish the Center for Architecture, Design, and Engineering at the Library of Congress, where you can also view Rudolph’s entire archive.