Organic architect John Watson may have single-handedly blown all other lesser-known Wright students out of the water with Austin's "Grotto Dome." Not that his work looks anything like Wright's, although he did study with the man/myth/legend, learning at Taliesin and working with Wright on the Guggenheim Museum, the Marin County Civic Center, and a few Usonian homes. No, this one looks more like a giant mushroom cap that sprouted on a hillside and got converted into a home by industrious elves with an eye for midcentury design.
Watson describes the piece in David Pearson's New Organic Architecture as "designed to complement and reflect a thousand-year-old rock formation in its glass façade." Over that façade, which is the first view of the home one gets upon approach, stretches a 50-foot gunite visor, while a waterfall cascades down the into a pool below the deck. "Recently a visitor actually commented on how successfully I had created the grotto itself," writes Watson, which "was indeed the ultimate compliment to the success of organic architecture."
Inside, the underside of this gunite cap gives the domed ceiling a thatched appearance. The very open top floor is broken up by a boxy volume containing the kitchen, which was recently remodeled. Given the home's completion date of 1978, it seems likely that the rest of the home was given a relatively recent renovation, too; either that or just very faithfully preserved.
The listing text casts this 2,500-square-foot two-bedroom as a "living sculpture" and a "true sanctuary for those seeking solitude and beauty." The glassy back end of the home has a semicircular balcony on the top floor, while at the ground level, a covered outdoor lounge with rocky walls might be enough to give the grotto the reclamation it so sorely needs. Said lounge overlooks a pool, and in its current state, is just a short walk away from a converted airstream labelled "Fort Apache" surrounded by a bamboo fence.