Usonia: An Experiment in Living

The community of Usonia in Pleasantville, New York, was founded in 1944. Situated 35 miles north of New York City, it is the only fully realized example of Wright’s Usonian community plan. Between 1948 and 1956, forty-four homes were built on a tract of wooded countryside. Two Taliesin Fellows, David and Priscilla Henken, were key founders of the Usonia Housing cooperative, along with a group of young New Yorkers. These individuals pooled their resources and purchased land to build their first homes. Wright designed the site plan, and Taliesin fellows David Henken, Ted Bower, and David Leavitt designed the earliest houses. Kaneji Domoto was among the architects approved in 1948 by the cooperative’s building committee. He designed homes for five clients: Bier, site 53; Lurie, site 31; Harris, site 26; Silson, site 43; and Siegel, site 17.

Domoto’s designs borrow elements and principles from Wright, such as emphasizing the continuity between interior and exterior spaces, focusing on the central hearth of the home, and use of materials like Cypress wood, concrete, and fieldstone. Unlike Wright, Domoto's designs were dedicated to making his clients’ wishes a reality.