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Harwell Harris Mulvihill House

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 1:21 pm
by josquin
Harwell Hamiltion Harris' Mulvihill House is up for sale. I had always wondered about this house. The dramatic siting on the hill, make it look far larger than it actually is.

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 1:42 pm
by Roderick Grant
Nice house from what the photos show. The book by Lisa Germany says and shows little of the house. One thing is for sure, the color scheme has been altered drastically from its original 1948 appearance.

Mulvihill House

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 2:54 pm
by josquin
Here is a link to some vintage photos by Julius Schulman: ... TAIE163326

It looks as though the interior wood was originally stained.

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 4:53 pm
by Tom
The roof framing.
I think HHH does this a lot: in transverse section a wider central bay flanked by smaller side bays, almost church like.
In this house I wonder how the roof is supported?
There are no collar ties and no columns along the "interior aisles."
So it must be supported on the outside walls.
So what restrains the outward thrust?
Moment resisting plates flitched inside the ridge detail?
Does not look like that.

... and it's hard to tell but the ridge connection seems non-symmetrical.
It seems to follow the line of one of the beams all the way to the opposite side.

...hard to explain this in a thread post.

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 7:09 pm
by SDR
A strong ridge beam, supported at each end, should be able to reduce or eliminate outward thrust of walls -- even when the support is by way of cantilevered rafters ?

I can't tell if that's what is going on here . . .

"Mounting the stairs from the entry below, an open-shelf bookcase momentarily frustrates the view of the living room with its brick fireplace, a
strategy that Harris intentionally employed to not give everything away at once, to savor the delayed gratification of the extraordinary view. This zig-
zagging of elements to slow the body’s procession is a strategy that Neutra and another mentor, Rudolf Schindler, used. The antithesis of Beaux Arts
axiality, it is a beloved practice in Japanese landscape design, seen in Kyoto’s aristocratic villas of centuries past."

The writer has apparently forgotten, or has never encountered, Frank Lloyd Wright's houses ?


Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 8:20 am
by Tom
SDR: that's exactly my point. I can't tell either. It appears that the central ridge beam is not supported by cantilevered rafters. But it must be because it is definitely not supported by columns directly underneath.

Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 9:16 am
by SDR
It's the end condition, in the living room, where a single pane of glass replaces what could be a central column, that made me think that. Intermediate rafters are not supported as the end ones are . . .


Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 9:43 am
by Matt
What's the history of using vertical siding? When did this trend begin? I think Breuer used vertical siding. It's common in the northwest.

Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 10:06 am
by SDR
Fay Jones is another proponent. Vertical siding has two clear advantages: it is arguably better at shedding precipitation than some horizontal siding (such as board and batten), and it can be installed without end-to-end joints . . .


Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 10:09 am
by Tom
Charles Gwathmey used vertical siding too.

Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 10:17 am
by SDR
The post-war East-coast architects you mention are Harvard-trained rationalists. Wrightians, whatever else you may call them, are not rationalists but romantics. Neutra and Schindler, interestingly, represent the two poles.

Of course, there are crossovers; exceptions should not be employed to disprove a theory. No successful architect could be called "irrational" . . . for instance.


Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 8:11 pm
by Tom
Yeah, I have no problem with that broad labeling, it's useful to an extent.
Breuer might not fit into a "rationalist" category as easily as Gwathmey though.
"Expressionism" can be found in Breuer I'd venture.

Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 9:11 pm
by SDR
Yes. The problem with labels is that some suitcases have been to Berlin AND Barcelona -- if you see what I mean . . .


Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 11:06 pm
by Matt
Flush mounted siding in general had the benefit of reading more like a volume surface as opposed to a covering. It may be as close to stucco as you could get in the northwest. Wurster and other Bay Area designers used flush mounted siding either horizontal or vertical. Even Nuetra used it in his Bay Area and Portland Oregon designs.

Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 11:44 pm
by SDR
And, Breuer would use it diagonally, "for bracing purposes and also for visual variety," according to a caption in "Architecture Without Rules, the houses of Marcel Breuer and Herbert Beckhard." ... el-breuer/