Techbuilt House/Wilson House


Carl Koch


1958


Description

Field survey was not conducted on this house.


Significance

The Techbuilt House/Wilson House was designed by architect Carl Koch and constructed in 1958. The property was acquired by Charles E. and Frances E. Wilson in 1956. Frances Wilson worked for SMS Architects (formerly Sherwood, Mills & Smith) in Stamford. In 1970, she was elected president of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Institute of Interior Designers. In 1971, she became the head of SMS Interiors, an offshoot of SMS Architects. The original house had a rectangular plan with a second-floor wood deck on one end and a screened porch at the rear. The house had a concrete foundation, vertical wood siding, and an asphalt-shingled gable roof.

The Techbuilt House was designed by architect Carl Koch in 1953 as a pre-fabricated house prototype. At least two other Techbuilt Houses were constructed in New Canaan: the Techbuilt House/Swallen House in 1954 and the Techbuilt House/Aderer House in 1954-55. Koch designed several affordable prefabricated housing prototypes starting in the late 1940s. The Techbuilt House was one of the most successful and would eventually be available in twenty-two models. When first designed, the Techbuilt House could be constructed (on average) for $7.50/square foot, as compared to $10/square foot for a conventional builder's house and $15/square foot for a custom-built house.

The exterior design of the Techbuilt House was characterized by a pitched roof, large plate glass windows on the gable ends, and deep eaves. Koch had determined that the most economical use of space was achieved by a two-story plan that was essentially an "attic" with high side walls stacked on a partially recessed "basement," allowing for adequate light and ventilation at both levels. The shell of the house was composed of stress skinned panels on a four-foot-wide module. The main entrance could be located either at the gable ends or on the side walls, depending on how the building was situated to the street. The utility core and stairs were located at the core of the house to allow for flexible use of the interior spaces.

The pre-fabricated shell of the house, which included wall panels, end panels, floor panels, roof panels, and beams, girders, and trim, was designed for shipment in a single truckload delivery to a site with a prepared foundation. Once on site, four men could unload the components, frame the house, and roof it within two days. All of the finishing work could then be completed inside. The primary cost savings were created through the delivery method and fast pace of construction. The Techbuilt House could be customized to different sizes and floor plans and allowed owners to finish the interiors to individual taste and budget.

In 1959, a flat-roofed, two-car garage was completed. An addition was constructed in 1963. In 1980, Frances E. Wilson became the sole owner of the property. In 2000, Garrett A. Camporine acquired the house.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.