Friday, April 8, 2011

Vizcaya: the courtyard

The functional center of Vizcaya remains the courtyard. Once open to the elements, as discussed, it now has been enclosed with a glass roof to help protect the house's contents as well as to provide an all-season location for events.The courtyard is bordered on 2 sides by arcades filled with art and furniture, seen here, as well as 2 loggias previously discussed; the Entrance Loggia and the East Loggia facing the bay.These spaces really functioned as hallways linking the primary rooms of the house as well as providing covered access to the upstairs.Here you can begin to see the glass canopy added in the 80s, with heavy concrete supports somewhat masked by the corner planting beds. Just imagine this space when it looked right up into the sky! Despite originally being left open, plans were drafted which had designs for a silk canopy to cover the courtyard. This was never installed due to cost, but accounts exist of parties where the space was actually tented. Therefore, a covered courtyard would not have been completely shocking to Deering or Chalfin.The fountain below blocks the view from the front entry into the courtyard. This not only provides some privacy as the courtyard was the most used 'room' in the house, but saves the magnificent open space as a surprise.The view into the arcades is really beautiful, especially through the plantings. I love this Swedish clock.Despite being enclosed, the courtyard still feels enormous and light filled; the plantings ground you firmly in Florida.The gallery on the 2nd story provides access to the bedrooms as well as views down into the courtyard.The wall along the East Loggia housed both a clock as well as a wind gauge; again more technology!Despite the grandness of the house, the stairs to the 2nd floor were not ostentatious but rather practical (yet still provided a gracious ascent, how many of us have stairs this wide at home?). Join me next week as I continue the tour with the bedrooms as well as more highlights from High Point Market!

5 comments:

The Devoted Classicist said...

Despite the massive support columns for the glass covering, it is still an enchanting space.

Mark D. Ruffner said...

I'm still dazzled by those blue awnings! Thanks for the continuing tour.

The Down East Dilettante said...

It isn't hard to see why John Singer Sargent was so enchanted by Vizcaya. Those arcades, which he portrayed gorgeously, are near perfection in terms of proportion, ornament and spatial effect.

As to the canopy, you know I love you, but you're entirely too kind about it. It's an expensive, unmitigated aesthetic disaster, and general agreement among those who know has always been that covering the courtyard was utterly extreme and unnecessary, and that simpler, better, and less intrusive (and probably less expensive) solutions were at hand. It was an idee fixe that more sensible heads and advisors were not able to dissuade the then administration from pursuing.

But oh, how gorgeous Vizcaya nevertheless, and how I've loved the close up tour and seeing it through your eyes. Except the canopy :-)

Woody said...

I dunno, I'm not as turned off by the canopy. I think it has a real Grand Palais feel that's just been translated for size and location. And with all the palm trees, it makes the courtyard feel like a greenhouse which admittedly is not what a courtyard SHOULD feel like, but it's still pretty fabulous. Plus, down there in swamp land, aren't insects a big nuisance? Shouldn't this help with that?

Scott Waterman said...

The first couple of times I visited the place was open air. I was amazed how well things looked for having been exposed to the elements for so long.