The Miller (now Biddle) House lies on the eastern shore at the southern end of Skaneateles Lake in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. It began as a house designed by Ithaca architect, Anton Egner. Werner built the small addition on the north side in 1964, much influenced by Wright’s Fallingwater.
The use of stone walls and piers forming a defensive side that also screens the view, the distinction between back and front, the horizontal planes that extend beyond the enclosure of the pavilion, the sheets of glass that weave in their own path, the independent structure, all recall what Werner considered one of the two most significant houses of the 20th century (the other being Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, of course).
It is perhaps ironic that Werner included, inside a small light monitor, an actual window, that Werner had purchased during the demolition of an Oak Park Wright house. As at Fallingwater, there is as much living space outdoors as in.
In 1995, in perhaps his last commission, Seligmann was asked to design a new master bedroom addition. This opened the opportunity to add another pavilion at the opposite end of the complex from the first, thus allowing Seligmann architecture to bracket the existing house.
Though the language of the proposed addition would have been the same as the 1964 addition, the plan typology was to have been considerably simpler. In the original addition the combination of the simple plan diagram with complex three-dimensional development, the seemingly romantic composition with rigorous ordering, the orthogonal composition with diagonal views, was to become a staple of Seligmann's architecture.
Spafford Landing Road, Skaneateles, New York
Top: Overall floor plan, showing the original 50s house in the middle, the 1964 addition with Wrightian influences, to the north, and an unbuilt proposal for another addition, for the Biddle family, to the south.
Bottom: The low, extended form seems to weave through the angular trees and complements the low hills across the lake.
Spafford Landing Road