Miller House and Garden
The Miller House House showcases the work of leading 20th-century architects and designers Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard, and Dan Kiley. In 2000, the Miller House became the first National Historic Landmark to receive its designation while one of its designers, Dan Kiley, was still living and while it was still occupied by its original owners.
Kiley and his Harvard contemporaries rejected the tenets of Beaux Arts design that then formed the core of the landscape architecture curriculum and went on to publish their own manifesto of modernism. To them, the field’s established catalogue of historical references and hierarchical spatial concepts reflected social conditions and intellectual assumptions that simply were no longer valid in twentieth-century America. Accordingly, Kiley’s garden—like Saarinen’s house—relies on a clear and strong geometric order, but without conventional symmetry, reliance on fixed points of reference, or paths of circulation that constrain the viewer’s experience. It is largely concerned with shaping spaces, composing relationships of solids and voids, and manipulating the interplay of volumes, rather than with creating specific garden views or with orchestrating complex floral combinations or bloom sequences.
The landscape’s grandest feature is an allée of honey locust trees that defines an axis along the west side of the house, extending almost to the limits of the property. With finely textured buff-colored crushed stone beneath the entire allée, the dark honey locusts stand out in sharp contrast, their lacy foliage gently filtering the sunlight. Subsequent to the allée’s construction, it received a sculptural terminus at each end: a bas relief by Jacques Lipschitz at the south and a reclining female figure by Henry Moore at the north; both were later sold at auction as part of the process of estate settlement.