Falling Water landscape drawings

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Tom
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by Tom »

Good question.

in the meantime:
Here is part of the story as told by Donald Hoffmann:

"Kaufmann was not so easily convinced. Wright soon called Mendel Glickman, and they both traveled to Bear Run. According to Tafel, Glickman once confessed that "maybe" he had forgotten to calculate the "negative moment," an engineer's term for the amount of droop, or frown like bending, of a beam because of stresses above its point of support. Glickman stayed at Bear Run about a week, his wife recalled not long ago, and when he came home he said everything was satisfactory to both Wright and himself. But evidently not to Kaufmann."
(pg. 42 - FLLW's Fallingwater, Dover edition 1978)

"If he professed not to be worried about the cracks in the concrete, Wright nevertheless had misgivings about the structural relation of the parapets to the floor slabs. He thought the parapets were adding dead weight to the extremeties of the cantilevers, rather than helping to support them; and he seems to have blamed the weight of the parapets for the signs of negative moment in the second floor slab at the east end of the house {living room}. The next time, he wrote, "parapets will carry the floors - or better still we will know enough to make the two work together as one, as I originally intended" ..... Wright told his apprentices in later years that he would rather have had the parapets designed as truss beams, to carry the floor slabs."
(pg.48)

Tom
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by Tom »

The initial cracking in the concrete was first observed in the parapet on unit line-4 north of line-c and south of the long parapet that makes the 90 degree turn to the east. It's usually referred to as "the east beam" of the living room which extends along unit line-4 from line-B all the way down to southern limit of the terrace.
The curious thing is that where one would expect the parapet to continue all the way back to line-B it in fact terminates at the 90 degree turn - and this is close to the location where the cracking first began. The only structural continuity is carried below the parapet where it widens out typically 2" in section to catch the flooring.
Another curious thing is the apparent absence of counter balancing weight on this beam. The stone pier that supports the northern end of this beam on the main level at the intersection of line-B and line-4 does not extend up into the second level as the chimney mass does for the western beam on line-2. One would expect something like this especially given all the explanatory propaganda around the structural continuity of Fallingwater and how the upper floors counter balance the dramatic cantilevers and all that stuff. Yet that precisely DOES NOT happen right here where all the trouble starts.
And what is even more curious is that this structural counterbalancing and continuity could have been incorporated here because the solid wall that separates the guest bedroom from the bathrooms occurs exactly on the centerline of the eastern parapet beam. But that wall is not structural. It’s a steel stud cement plaster finished wall.
It does seem as if the eastern parapet beam could have easily been continued north to line-B and could easily even have been structurally tied to the third floor level above. What I am trying to say is that if the wall that separates the bathrooms from the guest bedroom was a structural concrete wall/beam, at least as high as the parapet, then line-4 between B and B-1 would have been a strong point instead of a weak point. The east parapet would have never failed. Furthermore the E/W spans of the 36ft long beams in the third floor would have been reduced and the steel could have been cut way back.
All this is merely what an intuitive and initial investigation into the structure first expects. The structural break at the 90 degree turn is a real shock. It’s not the obvious thing to have been done. The surprise and real curiosity is why it was.

SDR
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by SDR »

Let's face it: the most structurally coherent (hollow) form is the sphere; witness Fuller's work with the so-called geodesic dome, a partial spherical form constructed of flat and straight elements---those most easily manufactured and in most cases the most structurally efficient. The most structurally coherent orthogonal form is the unperforated box or cube. Because flat floors and vertical walls best suit man's needs, this is the form most often adopted for shelter.

But because functional requirements call for openings in the closed form, man pierces the walls of the box, beginning the process of compromising structural integrity. The designer who chooses to remove more and more of the material of the box---busting out the corners (the strongest parts of the form ?), replacing solid walls with planes of glass, removing support from portions of the floor---is willfully threatening the coherence of the structure; he had better know what he's doing if that is his aim.

The design architect, in order to achieve his desired form without unnecessary complication and expense, ought to have a structural scheme in mind as he assembles, in his mind and then on paper or on the screen, his proposed construction. Wright claims, in the above-quoted remembrance, to have wanted to make the floors and parapets at Fallingwater "work together as one," and for the parapets to "carry the floor slabs." All well and good, if true---but where in the building could this have taken place ? Not on the western side of the living room, because that parapet is interrupted by the doorway to the west terrace. Ditto along the eastern-most beam line, where the hatch not only interrupts the pony wall but the beam itself has to dog-leg around the head of the hatch. Along the south wall: yes, certainly; that alone could have reduced the visible bend in that parapet, at its eastern end at least, it would seem.

Assuming that the hatch couldn't be moved west, or shortened, the logical solution from a structural point of view would be to move the eastern bolster and beam off-module, to permit an uncompromised beam. In the earliest published sketch plan, this hatch is already present, and already interrupts that beam. But, unremarked so far I think, there is a fifth bolster and beam at the eastern edge of that plan. (I am calling the western-most stone support wall a bolster, for the sake of this discussion.) In the developed plan this eastern bolster and beam are removed---for aesthetic reasons, I presume. Surely Wright's "aesthetic logic" would have prevented him from changing the rhythm of bolster and beam---the building module---for the sake of structural simplicity and soundness.

I don't expect the design architect to have at hand the structural calculations necessary to size beams (for instance); I do expect him to have in mind sound solutions to the structural problems his design presents. Perhaps Wright here knew, or felt, that his design would fly once the calculations were made by those he trusted, including Glickman and Peters, who both contributed to those calculations according to Donald Hoffmann. The fact that he second-guessed those closer to the job than he, that he moved to prevent them from adding steel reinforcing (calling to mind other Usonian-era instances), doesn't suggest that he trusted everyone over his own intuition.

The fact remains that, absent intervention which took place c. seventy-five years after Fallingwater was built, the house could well have fallen into Bear Run. An architect, especially one working at the edges of his understanding, at the margin of current building technology, and risking his reputation and his client's welfare, could be expected to do better.

Fallingwater is universally acclaimed as a miracle of design from an aesthetic point of view; it is a gift to the world of built residential experience. Too bad it could not have incorporated---been organically wedded to---an equally superior structural scheme ?

S

SDR
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by SDR »

In re Wes Peters as a calculator, here is a discussion from 2007 in which a pair of interviews with his son Brandoch is linked.

http://wrightchat.savewright.org/viewto ... f=2&t=2389

S

Tom
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by Tom »

Exactly right about the parapets on the main level.
The second level parapets are a different story.

And exactly right also about the fifth main beam.
That initial sketch almost looks like the first move at FW was a 48ft by 48ft square built up from four bays and inscribed on the site.
Last edited by Tom on Sun Aug 02, 2020 3:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.

SDR
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by SDR »

Image
Image

Image

SDR
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by SDR »

(I've sent a PM to Marcus, the originator of this thread---but I realize now that, without the formerly-provided service of emailing posters when there is activity related to them at Wright Chat, he may not receive that PM, as he seems to have disappeared from the site after just a couple of days, a year ago January.

I wrote to ask him if he would kindly correct the spelling of Fallingwater, in the title of the thread. I should have acted sooner.)

S

Tom
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by Tom »

Ha! I thought you were going to say you wrote to ask him to revise the title.
Had not noticed the mis-spelling!

This may have been mentioned before in other threads but now is the first I've heard of it.
Hofmann says that EKsr. originated the details of the glass going straight into stone and of the stone at the livingroom hearth rising above the flagstone. Evidently Wright was assuming it would be broken down to allow the floor to continue.
-Glad SDR shamed me into reading Hofmann.

SDR
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by SDR »

Right on both counts. I have been guilty of buying books for their illustrations, and reading them only much later. One can hardly call oneself a dedicated Wrightian without reading as many of the earlier sources---books by Wright, by those who knew him and/or worked on the buildings, or written early in the Wright-scholarship game: Grant Carpenter Manson, John Sergeant, Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, Donald Hoffmann (who has written on at least three Wright projects), Jack Quinan; owners' memoirs like those by the Hannas and Jacobses---as are available to one.

I can't yet claim to have read everything that's on my own shelves. Perhaps I believe what I tell others, that words do little to explain Wright when the evidence is so plain in every image. Why do people belittle beauty, and go looking for a philosophy or some bullet points to understand this man and his work ? "What a man does---that, he has." His own words do little to explain the work, and I think he knows that even as he fills the air or the page with them, given any opportunity. You can't explain rationally, to a client or a scholar or a layman, why the broad chimney mass, the low hovering roof, the garden walls extending as far as the law or the neighbors allow, affect almost everyone who sees them---but people want to know, and words are the poor tools we have, to communicate the intangible . . .

S

Tom
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by Tom »

Googled post-tensioning.
First use in US is Walnut Bridge in Philadelphia - 1949.
First use in building construction is with lift slabs in the 50's.

SDR
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by SDR »

Thanks. So, it would have been unheard-of in the woods of northwest Pennsylvania in 1936---as I suspected.

S

Roderick Grant
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by Roderick Grant »

Donald Hoffman has written 9 books on FLW + "Mark Twain in Paradise" [Bermuda]. His books on FLW cover Dana, Robie, Barnsdall, Fallingwater (+ a revised edition) and Hagan. Also: FLW, LHS and the Skyscraper; Understanding FLW's Architecture; FLW and Nature. All but Hagan were published by Dover, Hagan by Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, and may be available at the Kentuck Knob gift shop. The Dover books are out of print, and are hard to find collectors' items. His other passion, Mark Twain, is by Univ. of Missouri Press.

I have nagged the Kansas City resident about doing at least one more book: The Bott House, but he is unwilling. Dover changed hands, and is unwilling to cooperate.

Tom
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by Tom »

Did not know he wrote on Hagan. I'll go on a search.
I've got the Dover copies of Robie, Hollyhock, and Fallingwater.

Coincidentally I stopped in my used book store haunt and found a perfect condition paperback of Grant Carpenter Manson's book. I've always heard of this but never picked it up, so I bought it on SDR's recommendation -$8.
Many photographs I've never before seen. Looking forward to digging in.

SDR
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by SDR »

An important piece of work. Wright quipped that Manson "knows more about me than I know, myself" . . .

The photo reproduction is not stellar, but the photos themselves are priceless. The First Golden Age, indeed ! Could it be the first scholarly work devoted to Wright---published the year before he died ?

S

Tom
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Re: Falling Water landscape drawings

Post by Tom »

Hitchcock publishes his book in 1942.

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