002-016 Publication of Interiors magazine article, memo from William D. Chambers to Irwin Management Company staff, J. Irwin Miller, and Xenia S. Miller


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002-016 Publication of Interiors magazine article, memo from William D. Chambers to Irwin Management Company staff, J. Irwin Miller, and Xenia S. Miller


Memo requests review and feedback on attached draft of Interiors magazine article about Alexander Girard's renovation of Irwin Management Company Offices at 301 Washington Street.




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301 Washington Street (Columbus, Ind.)

Is Part Of

301 Washington Street Collection (C0001), Series I. Subseries a., Box 1 Folder 3, Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives, BCPL Archives, Bartholomew County Public Library, Columbus, IN; 301 Washington Street: Cornerstone of Columbus, Indiana (digital collection).

Bibliographic Citation

Publication of Interiors magazine article, memo from William D. Chambers to Irwin Management Company staff, J. Irwin Miller, and Xenia S. Miller, 1/6/1975, 1/3, 301 Washington Street Collection (C0001), Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives, BCPL Archives, Bartholomew County Public Library, Columbus, IN.


Bartholomew County Public Library

Text Item Type Metadata


Typewritten letter with annotation and a typewritten and annotated draft article attached.

Typewritten text (sheet 1):


Date: January 6, 1975

To: J. F. Dorenbusch, G. L. Keith, G. W. Newlin, Irwin Miller, X. S. Miller

From: W. D. Chambers

Subject: "Interiors"——Article on 301 Building Design

Attached for your review is a draft of "Interiors" magazine article on the 301 building design.

 The article focuses on Mr. Girard and the design innova- tions of the 301 Building-—carpeted ceiling, sliding doors, secretarial desks, etc.

The article does not identify Columbus or JIM/XSM [J. Irwin Miller / Xenia S. Miller].

"Interiors" plans to include this article in the February, 1975 issue. They are pushing against a deadline and would appreciate a quick response.

W.D. Chambers


cc: Harold Hatter

Typewritten text (sheet 2):

Girard Feb


And now--carpeted ceilings

Alexander Girard meticulously details offices--almost totally surrounded in carpet


Alexander Girard, one of this country's greatest interior designers for the last four decades is among the few not to have a major public monument of his own design visible for designers’ ready visitation and edification. His Textiles and Objects shop of the early 60s, which was so brilliant a prototype of the glossy, wet wall, bare bulb, bathroom style, has long since vanished along with his La Fonda Del Sol restaurant and all but the concept of his wild-hot-op-multicolored-varigated-piebald design for Braniff International airlines. Other than his commercially available fabric designs and his own folk art museum in Santa Fe, most of his work is tucked away in private residences and offices. And so it is to be hoped that someone will commission Girard to do a major museum, bank, or public interior that will be more permanent and accessible than the commissions he has received in the past.

Typewritten text (sheet 3):

Girard Feb INTERIORS 2


However, one of his clients is not in the demolition business, but is rather one of the most discerning patrons of architecture and interior design, who has been constant in preserving its continuity, For that client for whom architect Girard designed an executive office suite in 1961, he has extended the earlier scheme throughout the offices of that investment management company. Preservation and continuity are elements of the design concept as well as of the program. Continuing the monochromatic, meticulously detailed scheme insitiuted for the office of the chairman, three additional floors of offices have been updated and refined.

Unlike most of Girard's richly ornamented and sumptuously colored collages of patterns and objects, the detailing and furnishings of these offices is simple stripped and minimal throughout. Also, the color system by this master colorist, is basically monochromatic scheme of tans, browns, beiges, whites, grays blacks, with only occasional splashes of red, orange, and blue. According to architect Girard, “It is all very severe, very quiet.”

Typewritten text (sheet 4):

Girard Feb INTERIORS 3

The simplicity of the design is an element continued from the earlier executive office suite. But minimalism, while pure, clear, simple, and spartan looking --a detailing that is almost invisible-or non-existant--is in fact a stylistic imagery that requires prestidigital acrobatics to achieve such an effect of invisibility. Whereas the offices look simple, the design time and inspiration are by no means minimal. Almost every detail of the spaces and of their furnishings has been specially designed by architect Girard as is his precisionist custom


The planning
Instead of the open planning that has become virtually predominate in the past decade, these offices are planned as separate enclosed spaces for maximum privacy and quiet. However, sliding doors that slither back into the walls achieve a degree of openness. The office spaces are generally small, with correspondingly compact furniture, and do not vary markedly. L Long corridors are widened to accommodate secretarial desks of a special hemi-hexagon shape. In one area, two of these desks face each other (photo page 000), and seem to lure circulation through the corridor. The large conference room on the second floor is subdivisible by overhead doors into three

Typewritten text (sheet 5):

Girard Feb lNTERIORS 4

smaller dining or conference areas.


The carpeted envelope

 It had to happen- carpet on the ceiling. Carpet has been climbing the walls for years now--in museums, occasional offices, and other areas, but it has never before been used to surface a series of interior spaces so completely. The floor-wall ceiling envelope is a design and construction system used through-out the corridors and offices. In section, the system consists of a floor, a base (1 ft. high), a mid-wall, a cove (from traditional picturerail height to ceiling), and the ceiling itself. Except for variations, all of these surfaces are finished in carpeting. The carpet specification (see wall section, page 000) consists of a 3/8 in. dark brown loop carpet on the floor, that extends upward to form a carpet base of the same fabric. The mid-wall area, between base and cove-ceiling, is also carpeted in a 3/8 in. loop texture of a lighter brown color. Above the mid-wall, the cove is finished with a 1/4 in. thick off-white carpet that flows upward continuously across the ceiling and down to the cove line on the opposite wall.

Within this system, the mid-wall variations include: plaster expanses 2 ft. 5 in. high or 6 ft. 6 in. and 5/8 in. thick. These plaster

Typewritten text (sheet 6):

Girard Feb INTERIORS 5

mid-wall areas trotrude beyond the carpet and appear as glossy overlays--like prefab fiberglass wall elements. Another mid-wall variation, which occurs in the dining/conference room and in the secretarial corridors, is a series of 6 ft. 6 in. high fabric-covered panels, each 6 in. wide. In some offices, mid-wall sections have projecting tack boards or both plaster expanses and tack boards. This carpeted envelope, according to Alexander Girard, “is the greatest acoustic material in the world.”


Design motif

Besides the vibrant color combinations and folk art objects that architect Girard has made his design trademarks, his work has often been marked by radius corners. This motif is the generator of the detailing throughout this project. Radius corners, though used long before he moved to Santa Fe, recall the adobe detailing there. Here, the motif is used at the junctures of floor and base, and cove and ceiling, where a 2 in. radius wood block negotiates the continuous flow of the carpet surfacing, Radius corners are consistent in the plan, and are also used in the design of the furniture--desks, tables, credenzas--in the detailing of the plaster and tackboard variations of the mid-wall areas, and even in

Typewritten text (sheet 7):

Girard Feb INTERIORS 6

And, to indicate the ultimate consistency of architect Girard's design, even the drawings have radius corner borders and radius corner locations as legends.


Special detailing and furniture

Like most of architect Girard's projects, these offices exemplify what can be truly called total design of interiors: the architect has shaped the actual spaces, and he has designed most of the furnishings within them--carpet, doors, draperies, upholsteries, cabinetwork, desks, and tables. He has also reanalyzed the, function of several standard details and given them a fresh interpretation.

It is this precise detailing that makes these offices so simple-looking and so functionally efficient. It is Girard’s inventive imagination that we continuously admire. As I wrote about a hemi-spherical recess that he designed to be a door stop in the chairman's office 10 years ago, Girard's interpretation “shows the sublime wit that, at rare intervals, elevates interior design to a level of an art.” Of this kind of vision Dr. Samuel Johnson I wrote, “the first effect is sudden astonishment, and the second, rational admiration." C.R.S.

Typewritten text (sheet 8):

INTERIORS Girard February Special details and furnishings

Details and furnishings specially designed by Girard include the hemi-hexagonal tan/white plastic laminate secretarial desks with vertical faces covered in carpet; a reception desk with stainless steel top and a carpeted base (see photo, ); sliding doors throughout that operate on recessed barn door tracks (see section and photo ); special contoured plastic/metal/wood door handles (see section and photo ); recessed semi-globular door handle stops; window treatments including pocketed curtains in the dining/conference room (photo ); and striped Mexican cotton shades that pull down on recessed tracks in the offices (photo ); divider panels in the dining/conference area that pull down guillotine-fashion from overhead, and are stored vertically above the ceiling; exposed globe lights on polished chrome socket stems and chrome circular canopies; hanging metal cylindrical fixtures with horizontal dimples, and clear downlights controlled individually by reostats.

Typewritten text (sheet 9):

INTERIORS February Girard Drawing labels

Typical handrail-wallmounted

Partial section: sliding door at high ceiling

Section: tread and riser at top of stair

Section: typical wall with fabric covered panels


(sheets 10-15):

Photocopies of photographs of the interior of Irwin Management Co. at 301 Washington St. to accompany article, marked with “proof” stamps.


Chambers, William D., “002-016 Publication of Interiors magazine article, memo from William D. Chambers to Irwin Management Company staff, J. Irwin Miller, and Xenia S. Miller,” BCPL Archives, accessed September 26, 2022, https://bcplarchives.omeka.net/items/show/31.