Architectural Feature: The Robb House

The process of entering the house … should be a continuing and developing experience in space and in view, almost processional in character,” wrote architect Don Schlegel FAIA of his design of the Robb House.

Located in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, the Robb House was the site of the Foundation’s 2015 Annual Meeting on May 30. It was the home of the late John Robb, Jr., and Peggy Hight Robb — he a partner in the Rodey Law Firm and she an artist — from 1962 until their deaths in 2014. As meeting attendees entered the main door of the Mid-Century Modern landmark, the experience certainly fulfilled Schlegel’s vision.

As the Sandia Mountains seem to overpower most things in the foreground, it seemed appropriate that the house should be strong enough in mass and scale to maintain its own identity and have a character that would relate to the background.” – Schlegel, New Mexico Architect (October 1963)

Ellen Robb is one of the five Robb children who grew up at the 11-acre estate, which was recently listed for sale. “I was 11 years old when we moved in,” she explained. “I fondly remember the meetings with Don Schlegel and my parents as we reviewed the plans.”

As part of the Foundation meeting, Ellen shared with members about the Robbs’ life in the home and why they built it. She said her parents were interested in living in an area more remote from the city center, with land and room for her to have a horse. In addition, Peggy Hight Robb was an artist and needed studio space.

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Red sandstone that was quarried in Golden, N.M. is a prominent feature both in the interior and exterior of the home.

“The home’s design was inspired by my parents’ interest in something both contemporary and regional,” Ellen said. “We knew the house was ‘way out there’ with its design, but we also knew its significance.” She recalled when architects would come to the home for tours after it received an honor award from the Albuquerque Chapter, American Institute of Architects in 1965.

“My father also wanted influences of New Mexico throughout the house,” she noted. Those influences are evident in features ranging from the red sandstone stonework quarried in Golden, N.M. to the Chimayo weavings used to upholster built-in benches in the living room.

In his 1963 article in New Mexico Architect, Schlegel revealed a key to the home’s regionally responsive design: “I was impressed with the ruins at Quarai, whose mighty stone masses relate so well to the ground and sky that they seem an indigenous solution to the architecture of New Mexico.”

Project Name: The Robb House
Construction Date: 1962
Architect: Don P. Schlegel, FAIA
Contractor: Gunnard Dahlquist
Address: 7200 Rio Grande Blvd NE
Zone: North Valley

Click on photo to view as a slide show:

3 thoughts on “Architectural Feature: The Robb House

  1. Don Schlegel really had it together when he designed the Robb house…Still contemporary and beautiful today…Young architects should study the symbolism in this house…fantastic…Don you should be very proud.
    Anne Taylor

  2. Seeing that pegboard brings back memories! The house I grew up in (Highland Park, Illinois) was designed by Milton Schwartz–who later moved to Santa Fe and lived there until he died. We had those pegboard sliding bypass cabinet doors; great hide & seek location (as you could still breathe!)

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