William Slayton first broached the idea of I.M. Pei designing a house for him while the two were mid-flight on a business trip together in 1959. Pei agreed and, after a suitable lot was found in Cleveland Park, Pei spent many hours with the Slaytons to understand what type of house would suit them best. One evening, Pei and Slayton were at a business banquet together in New York. Bored, Pei grabbed a dinner menu and drew the very first sketch of what would later become the Slayton House. Three more designs followed, until the fourth and final design emerged mid-flight during another joint business trip.
The house is located in the Cleveland Park Historic District of Washington, DC and completed in 1960. Bill Slayton was a planner, urban renewal specialist, and corporate executive and collaborated with Pei on many urban renewal projects throughout his career. The most prominent feature of this International Style house is its triple-barrel-vault poured-in-place concrete roof, visible above a seven-foot high garden wall that all but hides the remainder of the mostly-transparent house from the street. The garden wall is set 18 feet back from the public sidewalk, providing a landscape area as foreground to the rigorously-geometric scheme that is symmetrical in both plan and façade. The most distinguishing character of the house is the poured-in-place concrete roof with three arched vaults. The roof is supported by a series of brick walls, some embedded in the walls. The foundation is concrete. The Slayton House is one of only three residential homes that I.M. Pei has designed throughout his career and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since October 2, 2008.
(photos courtesy of slayton house/washington d.c.)