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Community Christian Church

Posted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:32 pm
by peterm
We just returned from Kansas City. Here are some images of the Community Christian Church from 1942. Nowhere was it posted that it is a Frank Lloyd Wright design. There are certainly elements and fragments of the original design, but things clearly went in other directions. Maybe some here know how this all came about?

Even the furniture and fireplaces were coated with gunnite...
























Posted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:51 pm
by SDR
Well, it's a monomaterial exercise, for one thing. I think the idea was taken a bit too far, in the case of that table with a chunk out of it -- at least, as executed ?

Curtis Besinger tells the tale. Do you have his book, Peter ?


Posted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:59 pm
by peterm
Unfortunately, I don't.

Posted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:10 pm
by SDR
The original budget for the church was $100,000. Wright said," Why, that's only enough to build a tent ! That's what we'll do; we'll build a concrete tent."

No one would bid on the project, even though there was plenty of steel work going on in KC (even in wartime, this was just before steel rationing went into effect). Then the city wouldn't issue a permit. Wright's crushed-rock foundations met resistance; Wright claimed that if a standard concrete foundation system was used, he wouldn't be responsible for any cracks or the like that might develop. The city required extra testing of some uncommon steel construction details.

The floor heating system failed to keep those attending the dedication ceremony warm, on the coldest day of winter; the pumps had been installed backwards. The congregation liked their new building; the city has accepted it. Mr Wright did not accept it, and never used illustrations of it. The congregation is proud to have a Wright building -- or was in 1995, when Besinger published his book. Besinger says, "It stands as an aborted curiosity."


Posted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:29 pm
by SDR
This is the first time I've gotten a good look at the building. I like the array of seating, including the balcony.I appreciate having the tour . . .

Is that colored glass, in the last photo ? I wonder where that appears, in the interior.


Posted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:33 pm
by Tom
Did not know this history.
Explains it.
These pics are the closest I've been.

Posted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:46 pm
by peterm
Seating- it was originally folding chairs. The congregation later purchased (or was given) Art Deco era cinema seating, which is what we see now.

The colored glass appears in the small chapel at the ground level right side of the building. I could only peek in a window to see it. It seems like it is "blacked out" from the exterior with some sort of paint...

The church is sited beautifully though it has little light from the exterior. Something went horribly wrong with the light...

#3 shows the original doors and windows, #5, replacements.

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:54 am
by jmcnally
it reminds me of that unfortunate incident where a swimming pool mated with the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:22 am
by SDR
While looking for the plan, I found (bottom of page):


Plan © 1993 by William Allin Storrer

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:03 am
by SDR
The white paint is all over the map, in the photos; sometimes snowy, or pale gray, sometimes cream. In Peter's first shot, the long view, the building appears to be the light sand that I expect the Guggenheim eventually to take on, once again.

Do I see a spot of early- or late-day pink ? At what hour was that photo taken ?


Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 2:19 pm
by DRN
Many thanks for the pics peterm! Like others, this is the most that I have seen of this building.
I recall reading Wright intended there to be a large patterned skylight above the chancel, with spot lights illuminating the night sky. The skylight was blacked out to address WW2 air raid concerns and never opened. I believe I remember seeing a night photo with roof mounted lights shining into the sky.

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:09 pm
by JChoate
They were a little too generous with the gunite cannon.
Those theater seats look a lot like the ones that used to be in the Pfeiffer Chapel before they recently replaced them. Here's what they looked like: ... DKGNHG.jpg
Perhaps they were from the same vendor.

Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:09 pm
by SDR
I can't seem to find an image, but this theater seat, with a curved cast metal stanchion (often decorated with a finely-corrugated texture) was a staple of movie and other theaters, at one time. This photo shows the stamped-steel back panel, also memorable, with its curved decoration: ... sc_ap6.jpg

The curve of the stanchion at Annie Pfeiffer is a bit more extreme than on the more commonly-seen example I remember.


Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:53 am
by outside in
I finally have seen a Wright project where I can truthfully say "plant vines", and in this case, EVERYWHERE.

Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:29 am
by SDR
. . . making it Wright's first truly "green" building . . . ?

Note that the pencil rendering doesn't show vertical supports to the balcony roofs; to his credit the architect doesn't paint them black.

The chancel attempts, in the built version anyway, to create a "cube of light" somewhat at odds with the floor plan; note that there is a (more or less) continuous skylight outlining the square of ceiling above.