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Spotlight: Robert Bruno’s Steel House

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What happens when a sculptor decides to build a house? You get Steel House – an undulating, twisting, UFO-like steel form that was a thirty-five-year labor of love for Texas artist Robert Bruno.

Vogue
Photo: Vogue

One of the most famous homes in all of Texas, Steel House sits just twenty minutes outside of Lubbock in Ransom Canyon. It’s a visually striking architectural home among a neighborhood of perfectly ordinary houses. This year will make a decade since the acclaimed sculptor passed away and left Steel House unfinished.

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Photo: Robert Bruno

Started in 1973, Bruno had big plans for his hand-welded masterpiece. A style unto its own, Steel House is perched on a hill overlooking Lake Ransom Canyon. Built from 150 tons of steel, Bruno worked on the home constantly, with big plans to include an aquarium, pool, and library – all of which were never realized. But what he did accomplish is truly stunning, and he did it nearly entirely on his own.

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Photo: Robert Bruno

From the front, the home looks like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. It appears to float above the ground, held up by four massive support pillars. The roof sweeps back as if it was bent by the prairie winds. The windows, many of which are stained glass, are all uniquely shaped and mimic the sweeping patterns of the roof line.

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Photo: Robert Bruno

Stepping inside the home, you discover that Steel House could have easily been featured in the Lord of the Rings movies (the elves would definitely have lived here)! Wood was used throughout the inside of the home, a warm and welcoming contrast to the steel exterior. Gently curving walls and arched ceiling hallways leave you curious about what is just around the corner. Light shining in through the stained glass windows paints beautiful, colorful mosaics onto the floors.

What at first glance appears to be a haphazard building, is, in fact, a carefully planned, lovingly built piece of art. This love continues on through Bruno’s friend Charles Hobbs who has become the caretaker of the property. Because the home was left unfinished, tours of the interior are a very rare occurrence and require careful planning. Here’s to hoping they open it up again soon!

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Photo: Robert Bruno

Bonus: If you take the drive out to see Steel House, be sure to also check out the Stone House (also known as Candy Cane House and Slide House) across the way. While you can’t tour the interiors of either home, both offer visually intriguing exteriors and make for a great photo op.

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