Austin House

Austin House, designed by Alex Cvijanovic of Walter Gropius’ Architects’ Collaborative of Cambridge, MA, is nestled in the woods adjacent to the fields surrounding the Observatory.

The design includes large windows to bring in daylight and emphasizes natural wood finishes inside and out. Exterior walls are vertical red cedar, while ceilings and other interior surfaces are cedar decking. Water from the flat roof drips slowly into a pebbled area outside the dining room window. This dripping waterfall can last for days after a rainstorm.

Austin House received the Architectural Record Award of Excellence for House Design in 1961, which included an article about and photos of the structure in its publication of that year.

Holcombe Austin built this house in 1961 when his family’s faculty house was moved to make way for Watson Fine Art Center.

Professor Austin’s academic interests were aesthetics and trees. The situation of his Modernist house evokes the first, and his creation of the Wheaton Tree Walk reminds us of his great love of trees and the outdoor “rooms” that can be created by landscaping. Many of the younger specimen trees on campus were grown on the grounds of the Austin House.