The nation’s only home designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Aldo Rossi is a new urban retreat By Dana Dramov
Facing the seemingly endless blue of the Gulf of Mexico stands an architectural marvel that even the most ardent Seaside historian may not fully appreciate — the Rossi House, designed by renowned Italian architect and recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, Aldo Rossi.
That Rossi died the same year (1997) the Rossi House was erected overlooking a beautiful pavilion on Natchez Street only serves to underscore the importance of the project and how it lives on among those passionate about design nearly two decades later. The house is one of the few structures he designed in the United States, and the last touched by his brilliance. Seasiders would be well served to take a stroll along Highway 98 to take a look.
Without even stepping foot on the property, one can appreciate the symmetry and simple design of the house, which references historical precedents and draws upon our collective architectural memory. As the leader of the neo-rationalist movement, Rossi in Seaside was able to give expression to new ways of thinking about buildings and how they contribute to the creation of vibrant towns and cities. Here, he created an original amalgam that adapted the traditional stone vocabulary of Italy to the light wood construction of the Florida Panhandle, and balanced a simplicity of forms with a complexity of spaces and relationships.
From the street, you can see the entry framed by Doric columns, which support the rooftop terrace and lead your eyes upward to the uninterrupted blue sky. Vaulted forms on either side of the entry create a bold and engaging frontage. Within the house, each spacious room is flooded with warm sunlight and cooled by the gulf breeze. The windows, stairs and terrace open to the outdoors and pleasantly draw attention to the plush greenery and white-sand beaches surrounding the house. Each space of Rossi House, indoor and out, is immensely private, yet the house graciously fits with its neighbors.
Rossi, born in Milan, Italy, in 1931, followed his talents so much further than what would have been expected from the son of a bicycle maker. He was a theorist that was prolific not only in the field of architecture but also in the related fields of drawing and product design. In Florida, Rossi is also known for the design of the School of Architecture at the University of Miami and in Italy for many projects, including the renowned San Cataldo Cemetery in Modena, Italy.
The Rossi House stands today as an extraordinary work by an extraordinary architect — one of many notable architectural gems in Seaside.