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Richard Foster’s Round House restored – and it spins

June 18, 2017

Another Modern restoration has recently been completed, this one in Wilton, CT. The home, which can be switched on to slowly rotate 360 degrees, was the personal residence of its architect, Richard T. Foster, until his death in 2002. Built 1966-1968, Foster called it “Circambulent House,” but it was commonly known as the Round House. He was inspired by its setting, which he said reminded him of an amphitheater. In 2010, new owners undertook restoration work, led by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects. Landscape designer Darrel Morrison was commissioned to restore the four-acre grounds.

Foster collaborated extensively with Philip Johnson on significant Modernist structures in New York City, including the New York Pavilion at the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, the David Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, and NYU’s Bobst Library and Tisch School of Business, among others. 

The restoration opened up interior spaces by removing walls and partitions, which increased room sizes and allowed more light to reach the center of the structure. Reflective surfaces were incorporated so that outdoor views are visible even when looking inward. Other notable updates include: replacement of the single-pane windows with double insulated glazing, restoration and replacement of the original weathering-steel fascia, and upgrades to the cedar shingle cladding where necessary. The mechanisms that rotate the house, which incorporated German engineering and local Connecticut steel, required minimal servicing. Working with Foster’s archives, obtained from the architect’s son, the original cobblestone specialist was found to redo the outdoor terrace.

The current owners maintain a website with archival material, photographs, and basic information about the house and architect. 

Restoring Richard T. Foster’s Round House,” Architectural Record, June 1, 2017.

Top; Round House before restoration, Photo: John Arbuckle; Middle: After restoration, Photo: © Iwan Baan, from Architectural Record; Bottom: Original control box for Round House’s revolving mechanism, Photo: K. Randall