Someday there may be a historic plaque on the contemporary Atlanta house of architect Paul Muldawer.
In 1969, the house was the meefing place for two men of differing backgrounds - Jimmy Carter, a farmer beginning his second campaign for governor of Georgia, and Andrew Young, a young black civil rights veteran who was soon to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and is now the President's choice for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
The two men, who met at a party at the Muldawers, would later mold a strong friendship, a friendship without which Carter might not have been elected President.
The political success of Carter and Young has had an impact on Muldawer. He and his architectural firm partner, Jim Patterson, designed the solar-heated presidential inaugural parade viewing stand and the media stand in front of the White House.
And they did it without damaging any trees. Muldawer is proud of that even though he said the national broadcast media kept on "asking me how many trees I was going to cut."
Muldawer's concern for trees is nothing new. His Atlanta home is like a tree house. Trees actually grow up through the main entranceway. The cypress and redwood home brought an "economic mix" to the lavish Randall Ridge Road neighborhood where other houses cost $200,000 to construct.
Muldawer and his wife Carol 11 years ago put $40,000 into the design and construction of their home. The house would probably bring $1750,000 to $200,000 on market today.
But they aren't planning to sell. The home was designed to fit their lifestyle, casual but organized. Its large rooms are decorated with art, not furniture.
"I'd rather have it filled with my friends than furniture,"said Mrs. Muldawer. The 40-year-old artist is also a political activist.
The den, living room and family rooms all flow together in spite of partitions dividing the rooms. In summer, slidding doors from all three of the entertaining rooms open to a common deck looking out over the heavily-wooded three-fourths of an acre tract.
The uncommon structure stands on a steep lot, once considered "unbuildable," like a nest among towering oaks and Georgia pines.
When the Muldawers set out to build on a site where others thought nothing could go, "I didn't want to complete, but to understate," Muldawer said. The neighborhood has several houses which look like small hotels and one has made the cover of a national home magazine.
"We wanted to make our house as natural as possible, to blend with the natural topography," Muldawer said.
So the Muldawers "cut a little shelf" on the slope that drops some 100 feet, so that the house could rest on the side of the hill.
The result is a "steep, steep" drive leading down to a home that "almost turns its back on the street," Muldawer said.
There are few windows on the street side but lots of glass overlooking the 100-foot-tall pines and oaks with trunks as big as four feet in diameter.
The house is private. "You can be alone here," Mrs. Muldawer explained. But there are eight other houses on the street "if you need help."
Inside, the Muldawer house is basically two houses.
There's the children's wing and the parent's wing or as Muldawer puts it, the "high-activity, noisy side and the low-activity, quiet side."
The "noisy side" contains the family room, kitchen, breakfast room and rooms for the Muldawer's two children -Elisa, 13, and Alan, 16.
The children's rooms each have study niches so they can go away from everything, including the TV, to "study, write letters or just sulk," Muldawer said.Having their own wing of the house, so to speak, gives them a "special independence."
The "quiet side" of the house includes the expansive 16-by-3-foot living room, guest suite and master bedroom. The living room, with 13-foot ceilings and a fireplace totally surrounded by glass, doubles as a library and music room.
Special flues were used for the chimney so that glass could go above the fireplace, Mrs. Muldawer explained.
Though the house provides ample freedom for the separate lives of children and adults, the Muldawers said their "family comes together in the dining area located in the center of the house."
The large dining room, surrounded by an art gallery, is a headquarters for family celebrations and holiday events. It adjoins a two-story family room/den where one wall is decorated with a huge red, black and orange multicolored wall hanging by Rudy Pozzatti. It almost reaches from the floor to the 24-foot-high ceilings.
The kitchen "looks out on that room" through a 4-by-4-foot hole cut so that whoever happens to be cooking or cleaning can communicate with the rest of the family or keep an eye on the children. That hole was something Mrs. Muldawer insisted on at construction time.
"When the children were younger, I could watch them and cook. Now when I have company I can talk to them while I work in the kitchen," Mrs. Muldawer said.
Above the kitchen and overlooking the family room is a loft used as an art studio/gallery but it's not used as much today as it once was. "Carol has turned much of her creative talents to politics," Muldawer said. She's been on Young's staff in Atlanta since he was elected to Congress in 1972 and traveled as an advance in the Carter presidential campaign.
However, art does dominate their house.
Mrs. Muldawer sees the backyard as a sort of painting itself.
She marvels at the views out her back windows that are produced by the changing seasons. She remembers one snowfall when she called her husband home to see "all the strange things the trees seem to be doing out back with their bare arms."
In the springtime, when the hundreds of godwoods bloom, the yard looks like an untouched "blanket of snow."
In the living room and on the deck are pieces of scultpure by Charles Mitchell, designer of the Carter inaugural seal on the inaugural viewing stand.
There is an abundance of her own paintings in the gallery and throughout the house. There are some of Muldawer's paintings too. She does abstracts. He does cityscapes.
"This house is like a good painting, the more you live here, the more you enjoy it," Mrs. Muldawer said.
The house is virtually maintenance-free. Exterior walls are all cypress and redwood. Industrial windows were used throughout. Interior walls are white with redwood trim. Ceilings are all slanted and made from redwood.
The solid white walls allow the Muldawers to make the best use of their art works, enhance the visual open spaces within the house and eliminate high painting costs for complicated trim work.
"It is absolutely functional, there is no wasted space. It's easy to keep clean and has loads of closet space. I have one wall that is 15 feet long and it's all closet space," Mrs. Muldawer said.
Utility bills are lower than would be expected. Even on cloudy days the family rarely turns on many lights. Skylights provide natural light, sufficient for most purposes, Muldawer said.
"Our air conditioning goes on later in the summer and goes off earlier in the fall than the neighbors' because the trees provide protection in cool weather and breezes in hot weather. The only reason we use it at all is because Atlanta's summers are so humid," Muldawer said.
This is the first house in which Mrs. Muldawer has ever lived. She spent her childhood in apartments and she managed apartments designed by her husband before they built it.
"This house has everything I would ever want or need," she says. Obviously, the Muldawers are as happy with their design today as they were when they moved in a decade ago in the middle of a rare Atlanta snowstorm.
And some day, there just might be a bronze plate designating it as the house where President Jimmy Carter met Andrew Young.