I first learned of Pietro Belluschi in high school when my art teacher, Mrs. Goodman, was half in love with him. She was in love with LLoyd Reynolds, too, the calligrapher. But she ran off with the principal. Never mind, that’s another story.
Pietro Belluschi was born in 1899 in Italy and came to Portland as a 24 year old in 1923. Trained as an engineer, he joined the prestigious A. E. Doyle architectural firm. He became partner with Doyle in 1933, then took over the business in 1943. In 1951 he went to MIT as the Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning. He designed the Equitable Building in Portland, which was the first glass curtain-wall construction in the nation, the first completely sealed and air conditioned skyscraper in America. Other notable buildings of his are Zion Lutheran church (which my class took a field trip to see) and the Portland Art Museum. Between Portland and Massachusetts, he designed over 1000 buildings. He died in 1994.
In commercial buildings, his firm followed the evolving International Style, but in his private commissions Belluschi stayed with regional traditions and native materials.
The house of Belluschi’s that I saw on my view of historic homes was built in 1980. Initially, it appears rather unassuming, sitting on a grassy hillside out on Old Germantown Road. But what a privilege it was to get to see it! The current owners are an architect and a professional musician who has a recording studio on the lower level and a Bosendorfer piano in the living room. This couple made improvements in 2009, extending the living space into the exterior with a pool, a green house, a meditation pavilion, a guest house, and a waterway through the conservation sensitive habitat.
The floor plan is open, a natural stone fireplace dominating the center and the kitchen open to the living areas, below:
My Dad was enthralled with the character and quality of the concrete work. I, myself, was still attached to the Arts and Crafts “goopier” styles of the earlier homes we’d seen. But Dad and Mom always did like Scandinavian, streamlined designs. I like cozy corners and nooks. This building is the architect’s office. When he gets stressed, he steps out to the pool! The main house, view of the kitchen corner ^
This acreage was designed to become a wildlife sanctuary and watershed for the local creek.
I was impressed with how smoothly the additions made in 2009 continue Belluschi’s design. There is no interruption between old and new. Maybe that is because Belluschi was so forward thinking, perhaps it is that the current architect followed the same line of thought (of course). This is a place of great simplicity and harmony, seen at its best on this glorious summer day while the bees were buzzing in the lavender.