A French teacher and a sculptor, here we are when we built the original OLU in 1981. At the time, it was conceptualized and built like a piece of sculpture, the sides in place before the roof was considered. Implicit was a statement about affordable, low-impact housing, an issue Craig has since explored in his art work for twenty-five years. Imagining a square house with 16 foot sides, Craig realized that with the same materials, if he arranged the house in an octagon, he would gain 20% more floor space, and if he increased the ceiling height slightly, he could gain another 40 – 50% floor space by adding a loft.
Sheila’s brother teasingly told her that he would live in a Victorian house and she would live in an “octagonal living unit.” We embraced the name, built the house and found that nearly everyone who walked into it loved it: the openness, the light, the cathedral ceiling, the coziness. We built the original octagon with found and salvaged materials for $3,000, then lived there very comfortably for three years before heading for the art world of lower Manhattan.