The Three-Story House that Might Have Five


ALSO KNOWN AS THE CASA DE LAS CHIMENEAS OR THE CASA DE LOS HOYOS.

This structure—considered one of the most emblematic among the 36 most notable structures in the sculpture garden—was designed by Edward James, it is said anecdotally, to host his intimate friend Desmon Guiness, with the idea that he could enjoy the adjacent landscape and its waterfall with James from any of the terraces that make up the body of the structure, which features wide visual dominance over the nearby arroyo, falls and surrounding mountains, as well as a view of certain notable structures such as Plaza San Eduardo, the Palacio de Bambú, the Puente Roto and others.

The terraces that form the house served as an inspiration for Edward James to design other structures, write poetry and compose extensive letters to friends that could go on for as much as sixty pages.

FACTORS THAT PUT THIS ARCHITECTURAL GEM AT RISK

1988’s Hurricane Gilbert was the cause of a landslide that affected the structure and occasioned major damage by structurally compromising a number of columns and walls and destroying a concrete plate that crossed drainage zones.

This landslide was the result of water-saturation in loose material that—given the landscape’s natural slope—gave way to cause severe damage. It should be noted that the structure is situated over a natural earthen drain in a bridge-like fashion; when the drain was blocked, the slide destroyed the bridging plate, exerting pressure on the building.

RESTORATION

This includes building new joists and repairing existing ones. Joists and columns form the structure’s skeleton. All the new elements will serve to lend structural coherence and interlink those that are currently working independently, which is unsuitable and could lead to further damage in the future.

The work being done is necessary to keep the building from collapsing, which would destroy a large part of Edward James’ legacy, given that this is one of the site’s most representative structures and has a long history.

Concerned about the possible loss or further deterioration of this building and the lack of available resources, the Pedro and Elena Hernández Foundation, began seeking funding for its restoration, and finally found backing from the World Monument Fund and Wilson Challenge.