While driving through Texan suburbia, 20 minutes outside of Lubbock, drivers will find a giant, four-legged UFO standing just across the street from rows of ordinary two-story houses. Upon closer inspection, the strange formation appears to better resemble a massive cicada, or perhaps a multiple-story grand piano balancing on the hillside.
In reality, this bizarre structure is actually someone’s house—or, at least it used to be. The steel abode is the labor of love of Robert Bruno, an unconventional sculptor who handcrafted it from 1973 until his death in 2008.
Located on a ridge overlooking Lake Ransom Canyon, Robert Bruno’s Steel House is made of 150 tons of blackened steel, each piece welded by hand, and was created with virtually no outside assistance. The interior is wooden, resembling the inside of a tree trunk, and many of the windows are made of beautiful stained glass.
But after 35 years of hard labor, time got the better of Bruno and his masterpiece was never completed. There are gaping holes between the house’s different levels, and the architect’s plans of installing an aquarium, a pool, and the moldings of nude models plastered to the walls were never realized. To Bruno, the Steel House was viewed as more of a hobby than a project that needed to be finished; the architect was known to scrap months of work at a whim, and the lack of closure was of no concern.
Today, nearly a decade after Bruno’s death, the Steel House is kept alive by Charles Hobbs, one of Bruno’s neighbors, who now serves as the building’s manager and tour guide. Although many have urged him to complete the house, it remains unchanged to honor Bruno’s wishes.