FLW Unbuilt Designs for Madison

To control SPAM, you must now be a registered user to post to this Message Board.

EFFECTIVE 14 Nov. 2012 PRIVATE MESSAGING HAS BEEN RE-ENABLED. IF YOU RECEIVE A SUSPICIOUS DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS AND PLEASE REPORT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION.

This is the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy's Message Board. Wright enthusiasts can post questions and comments, and other people visiting the site can respond.

You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, *-oriented or any other material that may violate any applicable laws. Doing so may lead to you being immediately and permanently banned (and your service provider being informed). The IP address of all posts is recorded to aid in enforcing these conditions. You agree that the webmaster, administrator and moderators of this forum have the right to remove, edit, move or close any topic at any time they see fit.
Bill Swan
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2016 9:50 am
Location: Sun Prairie, WI

FLW Unbuilt Designs for Madison

Post by Bill Swan »

Ron McCrea article on FLW's unbuilt Madison designs: http://host.madison.com/ct/entertainmen ... da5c7.html

SDR
Posts: 20198
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Thanks, Bill. Here are a couple of drawings of the first project. This item appears immediately before Winslow, in Taschen; it is not listed in Hitchcock.


Image


Image

A generous set of ellipse templates would have enabled the young draftsman to complete his arcade . . . ?


Image

all images © 2009 by TASCHEN GmbH and by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

SDR
Posts: 20198
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Image

SDR
Posts: 20198
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Assuming that this re-purposing of Wright's design ought to be permitted, I think the design needs some work.
The ground-floor windows need to be redrawn to match the architect's proportions -- and the contents within the
central opening might be made of dark material, to restore the gestalt of a deep opening, as Wright envisioned the
structure ?

(If this were an existing structure, would we want the owner to rearrange the exterior to suit some new interior
arrangement ? Would anyone punch new window openings into Unity Temple ? Doesn't recreation of historic
architecture demand the same respect ?)

Wright's building is entirely shingled. The note to the punched windows reads, "Hinged Sash to Swing In -- Wood
Dividers." The separation of the forms via their material into two classes, introduces a new element to the design,
as does the choice of colors.

Finally, the way the building meets the (paved) ground is unacceptable . . . isn't it ?


Image
© ZEBRADOG DYNAMIC ENVIRONMENT DESIGN

SDR
Posts: 20198
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

I'd have to say that just two of the architect's drawings don't provide quite enough information to bring this building to life. What Wright has done is quite remarkable: a great drum, surmounted by an assertive cone, is impacted at four corners by identical low-roofed cubes. The sides of the drum, revealed between these cubes on all four sides, are flattened and then pierced by generous semicircular arches.

Thus the four elevations of this symmetrical solid are as much alike as possible; the arches on all sides open to the interior. It does appear that, on the landward elevation, the triplets of tall windows appearing on both exposed faces of each cube are replaced by a pair of openings. These may be doors, into the two spaces marked "entrance" on the plan -- one of which at least contains a stair -- but if doors they are not shown with the customary swings. The off-shore pair of spaces are marked "keeper" and "storage."

So, we have an object which seems to recognize Richardson, Palladio, and the English Arts and Crafts in equal parts. Its rigorous bilateral symmetry will appear again at Unity Temple. The drum is fully exposed and expressed on the interior; the ancillary corner spaces are of relatively limited utility. One could understand a move to re-think the interior for new uses -- unhappily, if the result were to lose much of the cylinder . . .

SDR

RonMcCrea
Posts: 331
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2008 6:10 pm
Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Post by RonMcCrea »

I sent Susan Jacobs Lockhart a link to my story and she replied:

"For some time now both the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation have stopped allowing the building of posthumous FLW designs. After the Buffalo buildings, it was determined that this would be the policy. As we have seen, it is not possible to properly interpret these posthumous designs without the original architect present. There is always a need to 'adjust' the original design for the site, materials and use of the client, etc. It doesn't create authenticity and credit to Wright's legacy, and had to be stopped. I thought it only fair to let you know the situation."

In a follow-up, she added: "Many people wish to experience unbuilt Wright structures and Archives provide that opportunity."

My personal preference is for new architecture to be built -- in and for its time, to give new architects a chance to shine, like the 26-year-old Wright -- and for classic works of architecture to be expensively restored. But, for the sake of argument: A number of Wright's buildings were completed by Taliesin without the "original architect" being present, including the Marin County Civic Center and the Spring Green restaurant that is now the Taliesin Visitors' Center. Should those be considered ersatz?

peterm
Posts: 6290
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

The Florida Usonian house was arguably the most successful posthumous design by Wright ever constructed. Is it possibly easier to build smaller post-Fallingwater designs than the earlier works?

SDR
Posts: 20198
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Perhaps it's not too soon to assemble a list and comment upon the examples we have. If someone doesn't jump on that, I'll get to it. The FSC Usonian is certainly a success, and exemplifies what can occur when the right cards are on the table. I don't think the Martin work can be faulted; I wonder which "Buffalo buildings" Ms Lockhart refers to ?

This story brought up the Yahara boathouse, designed for Madison but realized in Buffalo. I fault its texture and color: it's a smooth-skinned blue-gray version of what should have been warm sand plaster or Unity Temple concrete, in my view -- depending upon what Wright specified. If it was built without the input of Wright's construction documents, it should have been left alone ?

Even the alteration of existing structures is a part of the story. The re-coloring of the Guggenheim, based it would seem upon faulty memory, needs to be corrected -- as I see it.

"Many people wish to experience unbuilt Wright structures and [the] Archives provide that opportunity." Well, yes -- up to a point. No one will ever know for sure what a Wright design really entails, without a physical realization of that design. A manipulable digital model can bring us much closer than the paper documents, and perhaps the efforts should be placed in that direction ?

SDR

RonMcCrea
Posts: 331
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2008 6:10 pm
Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Post by RonMcCrea »

I think the Buffalo buildings Susan refers to would include the Fontana/Yahara Boathouse of 1905, built in 2007; the Wright Filling Station, reconstructed from 1927 plans at the Pierce-Arrow Museum in 2014; and the Forest Lawn Blue Sky Mausoleum, designed for the Martins in 1923 and built in 2004.

The Canadians also have a plan to rebuild the demolished 1914 pavilion in Banff National Park.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10573
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

There are elevations in Mono 1/50 which show that doors to the two entrances are situated below the windows shown in the plan, which have been shortened. Where the plan above shows 2 windows, the plan in Mono shows three.

The alterations to the plan, materials and use, make trying to sell this as Frank Lloyd Wright ludicrous.

SDR
Posts: 20198
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

"Where the plan above shows 2 windows, the plan in Mono shows three." Do you mean there are three windows above a pair of doors ? Are there also windows in each door, or are they blank ?

Without looking (yet) at specific examples, it might be said that those projects which recreate previously existing Wright structures, or for which construction documents were completed during Wright's lifetime, have stood a better chance of being faithfully and admirably executed, than projects which didn't proceed to working drawings.

Projects begun by Wright but completed after his death may or may not be regarded as fully the work of the architect. It could also be demonstrated, I think, that at least a couple of recreations better demonstrate Wright at his best than do a few standing Wright buildings . . .

SDR

DRN
Posts: 4044
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

The present day renderings miss a central element in Wright's original design for this building: water.
All of the new renderings illustrate the boathouse on a plinth, detached from the water. This is not a boathouse, rather it is a visitor's center/comfort station/food court perched above the water. Wright's design had the water of the lake in the building as a basin and slip to allow boarding of the shells in a semi controlled climate.

If the programmatic use of the building is going to be totally different, then a totally different building should be built. This is at best an unrelated building whose outward form is inspired by an unbuilt building. Susan is right, if this watered down building is constructed, it will blur Wright's original intentions and leave an inaccurate impression or message with the public. To build an unbuilt house as a house is one thing, this is entirely another.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10573
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

Picture the three windows on the lake side shortened about 50% with double doors below. The drawings are tiny and not clear, but it appears the doors are solid, paneled. A cross-section implies an interesting structure to the interior of the cone, but is not fully executed.

Lovness Cottage (1976) is certainly an excellent posthumous building, though it had the constructed Peterson Cottage to emulate. The Feldman House (1974) in Berkeley seems to have been built true to the Bell/Mauer Project plan. So it isn't always a bad thing. The current subject? Not so much. Perhaps residences are easier to do (Chahroudi notwithstanding) than non-residential designs where the public have to be considered.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10573
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

Perhaps a recreation of the Mendota Boathouse, which was actually constructed (Manson, page 61), would be a better project? It's a more interesting building. But! either of them, only with the original use retained.

SDR
Posts: 20198
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

I would be perfectly content living in an alternate universe in which Mr Wright had designed and built only residences . . .

Even the glazing of the arcade beneath the conical roof, here, makes much more of a difference to the effect of the building than its promoters may be
aware. Wright's wooden pyramid is happily and proudly hollow -- in keeping perhaps with his criticism of, what was it, the Pantheon ?

The built Mendota boathouse, presented in Taschen I under an identical heading and bearing a project number four digits earlier, also depends for its
charm on its wooden construction. Its remarkable U-shaped roof, perfectly shingled, is a marvelous sight in the photographs.

SDR

Post Reply