The Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana was designed by Eero Saarinen, with landscape design by Daniel Urban Kiley, through a commission by J. Irwin and Xenia Simmons Miller. Constructed as a year-round residence for these design enthusiasts, the mid-century modern structure features an open layout, glass and steel walls, and blocks of gridded skylights. Although the home was donated to the Indianapolis Museum of Art (Newfields) in 2009 and is publicly accessible through tours, the site faces a growing list of conservation challenges. Among them are roofing complications caused by the skylight system, surface damage and leaks throughout the house, and ongoing maintenance of signature landscape elements.
This wide-ranging inventory of problems calls for an overarching plan to prioritize and address current and future conservation challenges. Newfields will work with expert consultants assembled by PennPraxis, including DAVID RUBIN Land Collective, to identify the most critical building systems, materials, and landscape-related issues and establish protocols for assessment, monitoring, and conservation treatment. The work at the Miller House will pave the way for policy-based conservation planning in a city that boasts more than seventy buildings and landscapes by renowned designers, including I. M. Pei, Deborah Berke, Robert Venturi, and Michael Van Valkenburgh.
“Keeping It Modern” is a grant initiative focused on supporting model projects for the conservation of modern architecture.