by Douglas Truesdale
A look inside Jeff Dolezal’s Art House
When the talents and vision of an architect and his client are met on an equal level, the results can truly be inspired. Such is the case with ART, the spectacular home designed by Jeffrey Dolezal, principal of TACK architects, for his client in Omaha, Nebraska.
Dolezal and his client initially met a decade ago when the client was a bachelor and required new digs. That first project together forged a successful and collaborative working relationship, and so when the client’s family and art collection began to grow, he didn’t hesitate to call on Dolezal again to create a house that would not only meet the needs of a growing family, but also serve as gallery space for an expanding and impressive contemporary art collection.
Like the old adage of the chicken and egg, one wonders if it was the design of the house, or the art collection that came first. Dolezal states that the art collection came first, and the house – although not designed around a specific collection – was certainly designed to accommodate a large art collection, knowing that the collection would change in scope over time. The client’s first design wish was for “an art gallery we can live in.” Dolezal has experience designing museums, and put his expertise to use in creating interior environments that would not only showcase the artworks, but ensure that the lighting was of museum level as well. Because of the long-standing relationship between Dloezal and his client, there was a mutual trust and understanding that allowed the design process to move swiftly, which is a testament to Dolezal’s artistic vision. In fact, Dolezal was so inspired, that he completed the initial conceptual drawings in a mere two weeks.
The living environments of the home are specifically designed to frame the views of the exterior and capture natural light. Rooms are clustered into three distinct wings dependent upon function, with each wing connected by the main living space. The main living space measures 30 feet by 40 feet, with 16 foot high ceilings, capped by a soaring roof that “floats” on three sides allowing natural light to permeate deep within the space. A centrally located “wet cube” delineates functional aspects of the house such as kitchen, bar and living functions, while doubling as the kitchen pantry. The cube also provides a sense of scale within the main living volume, and allows for living and dining zones to be created around its perimeter.
The programmatic requirements of the client were direct and simple; provide an “art gallery to live in” and capture the bucolic views. Essential to capturing those idyllic views was the blur the boundaries between interior and exterior, and the client specifically cited the work of Richard Neutra as his source of inspiration. Neutra was perhaps best known for his line-blurring of interior and exterior, and literally brought the outdoors indoors in his architectural designs. The challenge for Dolezal was to incorporate this Southern California concept in a Nebraska climate. But as all good challenges do, it resulted in some very innovative solutions to a design dilemma.