All is Flux

The Nautilus Foundation: Medieval Castle in the Woods

(page 2 of 4)

Dave Barfield

The Nautilus Foundation library, housed in the Trivium building, originally contained 11,000 volumes, including rare manuscripts and books, some dating back 400 years. Some, but not all, of the books remained when the Holliers purchased the property in 2014.



A Modern Medieval Castle in the Woods

“I wanted something that had a lot of land. I was happy to have a cabin in the woods,” Fiona tells me during a visit to the Trivium, named for Bucher’s take on the first three liberal arts: history, the visual arts, and literature. From the outside, the Trivium appears to be a modern medieval castle, with uniquely sized windows and curving walls. Bucher claimed that only the library had straight walls, and that the rest honored Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ pronouncement, “All is flux.”  

A massive circular building lay unfinished nearby in partial ruin. Named for Bucher’s version of the other four liberal arts (architecture, design, proportions, and global ecology), the Quadrivium was intended to be the U.S. outpost for the International Academy of Architects. The building, a round auditorium encircled by dormitory rooms, was designed according to the golden ratio, a mathematical quantity considered by architects and artists (such as Le Corbusier) to be aesthetically pleasing. It resembles the curving shell of a nautilus from above.  

Fiona and Guy Hollier, a designer of corporate events and shows, purchased the remnant land and all its buildings in 2014 from the Collins Center for Public Policy, a nonprofit organization based in Miami that shut its doors the year before, citing financial troubles. Although the Collins Center employed a caretaker, by then the buildings were in poor condition. According to Fiona, every room needed work. To make the Trivium habitable, extensive repairs had to be made to its floor, roof, and walls, and all of the windows and doors were replaced. 

A combination of academic and art volumes left by Bucher and the Hollier’s own books are stacked floor-to-ceiling in the library. Many of Bucher’s books are still marked with his place, scraps of paper scribbled with notes that may or may not be important. 

Fiona pulls out a few items for me to inspect. I leaf through Bucher’s own book written with artist Joseph Albers, Beyond Straight Lines. What appears to be a personal photo of Albert Einstein, Bucher’s colleague at Princeton, falls from a German-language almanac featuring colorful plate illustrations of wildflowers. Along with all the other books, a thin folder turns out to contain a papal indulgence from 1579, printed in Spanish on some long-ago Gutenberg press. The document grants to the Spanish people “general absolution upon the condition of attending confession once a year, in reward for their service in combating the infidels.”

Oh, and those stones in the closet — Fiona decided finally to form a half-arch with them.

The Genesis of an Idea: Junction B

During the ’80s and ’90s, Bucher lured important writers, artists, and architects of the 20th century to Lloyd. William S. Burroughs, famous for writing the cult literary classic, Naked Lunch, visited and purchased four acres of land from Bucher in 1980. At the time, Bucher envisioned that the property in Lloyd, which he then called Junction B, would nurture a colony of artists and writers. 

Claudia Bucher, François’ daughter and a performance artist now living in Los Angeles, recalls the beginning of Junction B: “He was like a relentless soccer dad and megalomaniacal auteur obsessed with his grand vision... . I spent many, many hours at the beginning traipsing through the woods marking trees with orange tape while being devoured by mosquitoes to plot the path for the bulldozer to make roads. François and I would trek out in our old green Ford truck, smoking cigarettes and drinking Gatorade and chocolate milk from the Lloyd truck stop, hoping to not get stuck in the mud while arguing on how to do things.”

Burroughs visited Junction B several times in the early ’80s but ultimately dropped out of the project, purportedly because Lloyd didn’t have a methadone clinic. Only two artists could be found to have lived for any length of time on the property: Rick Robertson, a painter who has since passed away; and the sculptor David Heaps, who built a studio where he still molds and fires work for sale in galleries. Bucher invited student artists to install their pieces in the woods to create an outdoor gallery; the shells of these installations are there still.

The land deed for Junction B is not the only evidence of Burroughs in Lloyd. The writer settled a loan from Bucher with manuscripts. When the Collins Center was going under, its personnel invited Florida State University literature scholars to comb through Bucher’s papers stored in Lloyd. Out of hundreds of uncategorized boxes of materials, researchers retrieved the Burroughs manuscripts, now available as part of the Special Collections at FSU’s Strozier Library. Upon the Holliers’ arrival, Fiona donated the remaining papers she found to the library, including Nautilus Foundation plans, research and correspondence. The donation filled a 14-foot U-Haul truck and a large van front to back. These materials are being catalogued by FSU now and will soon be available to the public.  

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