House of the Century

Brazoria County

“Still ahead of its time, even after twenty years,” says architect Doug Michels about Ant Farm’s futuristic House of the Century, designed and built in 1972. The colony of anti-establishment architects (of whom Michels was one) christened themselves Ant Farm in honor of the toy ant colonies popular in the fifties. Their mission was to build projects that were amusing and educational—like their namesake. The weekend dwelling on Lake Mojo south of Houston looks as if it has just touched down on Earth: “NASA had landed the first man on the moon and Chip Lord [one of the other architects on the project] and I were very interested in space,” explains Michels, who was teaching architecture at the University of Houston at the time and who now lives in Washington, D.C. “This house was a tribute to space technology.” It nearly remained a paper tribute only. “Because it had so many curves, builders were reluctant to take it on,” recalls Michels, “so we constructed it ourselves in a few months.” The House of the Century has gone all but unnoticed, partly because it is still a private residence. But a later Ant Farm project, the Cadillac Ranch—ten Cadillacs plunged, fins up, into the ground near Route 66 outside of Ama-rillo—has more than compensated for the relative obscurity of its predecessor.

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