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WILLIAM N. MORGAN, FAIA (1930-)

A progeny of the Bauhaus, William Morgan’s ecological design approach embodies elegant simplicity with an economical use of materials. Morgan, who studied under Walter Gropius at Harvard in the early-1950’s, benefited as well from the tutelage of Josep Lluis Sert, a protégé of Le Courbusier.  A former employee to Paul Rudolph, Morgan’s humble beginnings included sweeping the floors and running errands for the Modernist master. However, it wasn’t long before he had become the manager of Rudolph’s Cambridge office, assisting with the details of major projects like the Jewett Art Center at Wellesley College and US Embassy in Jordan.  With 2010 marking his 50th anniversary founding his practice, Morgan is the recipient of more than 100 architectural awards, with his firm, William Morgan Architects, having built more than 200 sites.  The author of five books on the comprehensive study of indigenous architecture, Morgan schooled himself to be an archeologist—possessing a formidable knowledge of landscape, terrain, elevation and acclimation—building green decades before LEED certification was ever imagined.  Yet for all of his remarkable, ground-breaking achievements—his breath-taking, far-reaching oeuvre–Morgan seems yet to be universally recognized as an indispensable figure in the “Parthenon” of Modernist building. 

  

After meeting George Nelson and Ray and Charles Eames, Morgan became interested in furniture. The resulting creation was a minimalistic armchair and table of natural construction. Made of teak, harvested sustainably from renewable forests, the furniture is fabricated in Indonesia. And when pulled together, the two pieces become a chaise lounge.

House photos by William Morgan Architects unless otherwise noted.  Introductory and house description texts by artist Max Eternity, who also interviewed Morgan.


1962 - The Alvin D. and Harriett L. James House, 89 Dewees Avenue, Atlantic Beach FL.  Commissioned 1960. Two-story, constructed of concrete block walls supporting wood plank and beam roof.  Cantilevered stairs from foyer to second floor.  Varied arrangements of floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors on both floors, in front and back of house. Lattice wood sunscreen shades upper level of full height living room.  Master bedroom has cable suspended balcony. 1960 sf.  Built for current owners.


1966 - The Dan H. Williamson House, Ponte Vedra Beach FL.  4140 sf. 
Commissioned 1964.  Model by Peter Miller.  Featured in Architectural Record May 1964. 


 

1965 – The George M. Goodloe House, Ponte Vedra Beach FL.  Concrete columns support the wood-frame platforms of this multi-storied house.  Fiberglass reinforced resin encapsulates exterior plywood walls and roofs, with painted gypsum interior walls and ceilings.  2,075 sf.


   

1965 - The Rawls House, 2047 University Boulevard, Jacksonville FL. 
Sold to William and Janice McClure.


1965 – The Seaplace Apartments, 901 Ocean Boulevard, Atlantic Beach, FL.  An oceanfront property containing 100 apartments of masonry and frame construction with cedar-paneled cantilevered balconies. Three stories high, with four evenly spaced courtyards. The building measures 520ft x 160ft for a total square footage of 110,000.


1967 - The Hatcher House, 4842 River Basin Drive North, Jacksonville FL.  Commissioned 1965.  It won the 1967 FAAIA Wood Award, and was featured in the December 1967 Architectural Record, January 1968 Florida Architect, August 1968 Architectural Review, and the 1970 Vacation Homes.  Repossessed in December 2008 by Wachovia which let it deteriorate.  Sold in 2009, the new owners plan a restoration. 


1971 - The Robert G. Stanley House, address unknown, Micanopy FL.  2300 sf.


1972  - The William Morgan House, 1945 Beach Avenue, Atlantic Beach FL. 1,800 sf.  Commissioned 1971. Made of timber construction. Two triangular masses meet to form A-frame styled house. Sits partially atop a sand dune, with lower level resting on beach. Rough-sawn interior and exterior cedar siding, with central-entrance stairway. Symmetrical exterior with stepped balconies.  Second photo by Lewis Wadsworth. 


1973 - The Maxwell K. Dickinson House, 1199 Beach Avenue, Atlantic Beach FL.


   

1975 – The Pyramid Condominium, 9500 Coastal Highway, Ocean City MD. Built for John S. Whatley. Sloping in all directions, the structure is all concrete with aluminum framed windows, resulting in an asymmetrical pyramid that silhouettes the shape of a steep dune. 171 one and two bedroom apartments.  Viewed from the front, the symmetry of the interlaced stepped balconies can be seen.  250,000 sf. Commissioned 1971.


   

1975 – The Wayne Thomas House, aka The Hilltop House, Brooksville FL.  The Hilltop House embodies functionality and idealism as a man-made structure built both within and above the earth. Cast-in-place concrete with sloped retaining earth berm walls.  Laminated wood beams support low-slung, pyramidal roof made from planked wood. 3,500 sf.  Commissioned 1972.


 

 

1975 – The William Morgan Duplex, aka the Dune Houses, 1941-43 Beach Avenue, Atlantic Beach FL.  Concrete and gunite shell encased in earthen walls, forming a man-made dune covered with grass. Two apartments make up the property. Curvaceous interior walls are part wood, part painted concrete. Each apartment 750 sf. Commissioned 1974.  Sold in 2012 to William Drew and Jennie Malloy.


1976 - The Beach House, Point Vedra Beach FL.  Commissioned 1974.  Surrounded by earth berm walls whose gradation slopes to meet the truncated pyramidal roofs of the house.  Concrete masonry provides additional wall support.  Two-story.  Full-height living and dining rooms, with upper level bedrooms as lofts looking over.  Fiberglass insect-screens in aluminum frames acts as sloped-roof ceiling for indoor pool.  Hexagonal courtyard provides access to entryway.   2,800 sf.


1979 - The J. C. Dickinson House, aka the Forest House, Gainesville FL.  Commissioned 1977. 


1982 - The George M. Goodloe Townhouses, 1971 Beach Avenue, Atlantic Beach FL.
Three under one roof.  Commissioned 1979.


1983 - aka Treehouse, 1970 Beach Avenue, Atlantic Beach FL.  1000 sf.  Commissioned 1979.  This project was conceived as a prototype for higher-density residential development.  Features thin vertical strips of cedar siding with exposed wood rafters and plank ceiling.  Sold to Mark and Katrina Howard.


1987 - The Grandy House, 1927 Beachside Court, Atlantic Beach FL.  Sold to current owners Ronald and Marchant Martin.  3,570 sf.  Three-story wood-framed structure on concrete piers.


1994 – The Chapman Root III House, Ormond Beach FL. Two three-story, concrete block towers support second and third floor spaces bridging the towers. Wood-framed floors, walls and roofs; structural glass plate, floor-to-ceiling windows. Swimming pool doubles as a reflecting pool, abutting the ocean shore. 6,500 sf.   Commissioned 1989.


 

1996 – The Lynn Drysdale House, 1769 Ocean Grove Drive, Atlantic Beach FL. Four stories tall, yet small and very vertical. The entirety of the house is lifted into the air by a pair of large concrete towers. Top floor has cantilevered balcony with squat canopy roof.  Commissioned 1995.  Sold to Thomas and Judith Coughlin. 


1998 - The Edwards House, 65 19th Street, Atlantic Beach FL.  1707 sf.  Two-story concrete block towers support wood-framed superstructure.  Scored concrete black interior, painted light sandy color.  Large cantilevered upper balcony, providing some shade for driveway beneath.  Commissioned 1997.  Sold to Janice Madsen.


 

1999 - Sea Gardens, Atlantic Beach FL. Owned by Tore-King, Inc. 15 Townhouses.  Commissioned 1977.


2000 - The Gregory K. West and Susan Hill House, aka West-Hill House, 57 19th Street, Atlantic Beach FL. 1,487 sf with 533 sf addition.  Commissioned 1993. Concrete block towers support wood-frame superstructure.  Built for current owners.  Stucco exterior.


2001 - The Margaret S. (Peggy) Cornelius House, 71 19th Street, Atlantic Beach FL.  Commissioned 1998.
2,205 sf. Wood frame on concrete slab.  Design inspired by 19th century settlers' houses found in Northern Florida. Metal roofing with shingle siding.   Sold to Stephanie Hardman and Karin Raudsep.


2001 – The Roger Blackburn House, 3047 58th Avenue, Gainesville FL. Fluted concrete towers with latticed berm walls and metal roof on wood frame. 3,700 sf.  Commissioned 1994.


 

2001 - The Christopher Lambertson House, 77 19th Street, Atlantic Beach FL.  2300 sf. Commissioned 1999.  Won an AIA Award.  Sold in 2009 to John D. Lankshear.


2002 – The James J. Conners House, 2397 Ponte Vedra Boulevard, Ponte Vedra Beach FL. 2882 sf. Commissioned 1998. Wood frame with four concrete block towers suspending the second and third floors. Alfresco first floor serves as covered parking. Second floor is flush with towers. Third cantilevers between towers on all four sides, supporting a squat, pitched roof with long eaves. The house essentially has two distinct rooflines—the flat roof of the perimeter towers and the slightly pitched roof of the third floor suspended in between.


 

2002 - The Dylan T. Morgan House, 1951 Beach Avenue, Atlantic Beach FL.  Designed for one of William Morgan's sons.  Won an AIAFL Merit Award in 2003.  Commissioned 1999.   3639 sf. With the front facing of the home resembling an extruded Greek key.  The building is located adjacent to both William Morgan's own home and the Dune Houses.  Like the William Morgan House, this built atop a broken dune, resulting in the streetside elevation to be three floors, while the lower-situated beach-side is five floors.  A most extraordinary aspect to the beachside entryway is the suspended-by-metal-thread, cantilevered, floating stairway that hangs from the bottom of the third floor balcony.  The vertical formation of the thin metal truss system encloses the stairwell in a walled fashion.  However, because of the wide spacing of the metal suspenders, the stairwell view is unobstructed. The first floor on the lower level is alfresco.


2006 – The Francis and Diane Lott House, aka Sealoft, 4296 Fletcher Avenue, Fernandina Beach FL.  It is the signature house of the Amelia Islands. Interior concrete towers support and balance the whole of the wood-frame structure. Frontage faces street, rear faces beach with swimming pool in between, doubling as reflection pool.  "Sealoft" is an extraordinary study in light, which brings cosmic rotation within the residence, allowing the space to function as a solar clock, much in the same way that obelisks and sundials once did in eons past. Mr. Lott is himself an architect, having received a BA degree from Georgia Tech. 5800 sf.  Commissioned 2004. Video.


2010 - The Charles (Charlie) Knopf House, Stuart FL.


Year Unknown - Ocean Forest House, Atlantic Beach FL. Unbuilt.


Year Unknown - The Lagoon House, Jacksonville FL.  Unbuilt.


Sources include:  William Morgan, Max Eternity.