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Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:26 pm
by DavidC

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:25 pm
by DavidC

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:39 am
by Roderick Grant
We are all glad this has been settled, and hope the project is gone for good. But we should remain vigilant. H&S needs to expand their space, so how they end up doing it will still be of concern.

How did they spend 3 years plotting this without anyone finding out about it? Why were they so closed-mouthed? With Harding, Eifler and Vinci nearby, how could they NOT consult them from the beginning? It seems they must have known there would be controversy.

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:26 pm
by DRN
Not out of the woods yet....I believe the Preservation Commission makes recommendations to the Village Board or Council. The final say is in their decision.

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:52 pm
by outside in
actually roderick, they consulted with Vinci/Hamp, whose entry retained the two homes. Phil Hamp was quoted "its in our DNA", but I guess the board preferred to take a different course. I find it particularly unnerving that they have chosen to conceal this entry; hardly what one would call transparent.

The good thing is that even the National Trust has come out against this solution, and the Village Board will have a very difficult time approving and over-riding the findings of the preservation commission, despite all of their lofty claims of education, tourism and the resulting money coming into to Oak Park. If they have a solution that provides what they need, why don't they show it? Its not a case of all or nothing.

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 6:29 pm
by DavidC

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:53 pm
by pharding
FLW Trust accepts the decision of the HPC and will not appeal it. Kudos to the FLW Trust. It was posted on their web site today.

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:01 pm
by SDR
It's a pity that so much arm-twisting was required, to achieve the right result---but everyone who spoke and worked toward that end, here and elsewhere, is to be congratulated.

The next step is awaited with a considerable sense of relief ?


Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:49 pm
by Roderick Grant
All they need to do is go down a few blocks, knock on Paul Harding's door and say, "Fix it!"
To place a recognized, committed FLW expert at the head of the project is what made a success of the original H&S restoration, and it would work in this effort as well.

The actual architectural discussion...

Posted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:44 pm
by KenDahlin
As some have hinted on this thread, where is the actual architectural discussion about this proposal and why it should have been rejected? The fact that it was rejected is fortunate, yet the reasons for this are hardly indicated in the press (not that I have exhaustively read all of it). Politics aside, what actually disqualified this proposal architecturally? That would be a substantive and enriching narrative even though it would bring out all sorts of heated debate. The point is that design is not pure subjective matter that can hide behind the veil of untouchability. How much more so for this project and its historical and philosophical import? Someone said of it that "Mies meets Wright" and that perhaps strikes closest to the heart of the matter. There is a foundational, philosophical divide between European Modernism and the organic architecture Wright argued for. Far from being superficial, Wright shows us more depth of substance in his narrative than we seem to be willing to abide today. His conception of space, the integrated whole, of a buildings relationship to nature and on and on only reveal the superficiality of this unsuccessful proposal. I'm sure the architect would conveniently qualify it by claiming an understated minimalism which pays respect to the FLW architecture, but such tropes are not adequate, especially here.

Posted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:03 pm
by SDR
What sort of expression anything built on that street should have is a most interesting question, difficult to answer. Perhaps that is one reason that many
have suggested leaving the two existing houses largely intact and adding any new structure behind them ?

While the appearance of the failed visitor center was alarming in itself, it was the removal of those historic houses, combined with a lack of apparent
rationale for the size, placement, and even the landscaping of the proposal, which most irked those who commented, here and elsewhere, on the subject---
if I am not mistaken.

It would, as Mr Dahlin suggests, be illuminating and useful to have some discussion about what form a new structure here might take. It is of course an old
and recurring question: how to add to historic building fabric. I continue to insist that our colleagues in Europe exhibit a deft hand when confronted with the
problem; perhaps they have had more practice with it?

I could start the conversation by suggesting that both architects and sensitive laymen would be equally horrified by an attempt to build in the style of the
existing structures, both Wright's and his pre-existing neighbors. One can hear the cries of "Disneyland" (or Colonial Williamsburg®) already ...!

So, if something visible from the street is to be added behind---and/or connecting---the two extant houses, what should it look like ?


Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:14 am
by outside in
I have to admit, I'm baffled by discussions that somehow pit Wright vs. Mies. They're both long gone, as are most of the people that worked under them. Should this discussion also include a condemnation of the Beaux-Arts? lol There is no "European Modernism" that is somehow at odds with today's (non-existent) Organic Architecture. Although Wright had some strong and lasting design concepts, many of his admirers find it difficult to accept that some of his ideas no longer apply, or are just flat out wrong. Same goes for Mies. Its time to move on and solve current issues, rather than set up a false debate/narrative about something from the past. We should be advocating retaining our urban context, such as these historic homes, and finding ways to preserve and reuse them keeping the welfare of our planet in mind (i.e. sustainable technology). New buildings should respond to these issues, and NOT try to continue the "architect as hero" monumentality of the past. It's not an issue of style, but rather FIRST responding to the context, sustainability and making our world better. FLW- " Every great architect is-necessarily a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age. (ignore the * gender descriptions please). The last thing the Home and Studio needs is someones bad interpretation of Wright. To quote Wright “Imitation is always insult--not flattery.�

Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:32 am
by KenDahlin
SDR, very good points, and I agree that this issue is more than just the looks of any proposal. Maintaining the street context adds richness to what Wright's work was addressing and needed to be said. The answer to your question of what form a new structure might take is difficult, but maybe another question is in order before your question can be answered: Is the neutral, minimalist, and modernist solution the only way to sensitively add onto (or next to) a historic landmark? This presupposes historical contrast between the original and the new intervention. But often hidden in this approach is the underlying judgment that this contrast is more important than philosophical continuity with the design theory of the original architect. I don't think it is going too far out on a limb to this group to say that Wright himself would be appalled by the proposal rejected--but why? I understand your concern about Wright kitsch as well -- imitation will not do. It seems to me the answer lies in the middle of these two extremes. Any new design should be deferential to the original buildings and thus background structures. Also, to some degree, one should be able to tell what is new and what is original. On the other hand, I don't believe there is truly any "neutral" building form. Any building will make a theoretical statement by its presence. In this instance, it should therefore also respect the organic design philosophy upon which Wright was working. Spatially, materially, geometrically, the integrated whole, etc should be understood and respected. I am not even sure that it would be inappropriate for some historical gestures on the new building (eg. integral ornament). What I am suggesting is much more difficult and nuanced than the modernist/minimalist interventions that are the de facto norm today, but I think it is possible. America's greatest architect deserves better.

Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:05 am
by SDR
I may have misdirected the discussion in mentioning Wright's own work as a possible source or reference for a proposed structure; we aren't talking
about adding to a Wright building but of adding to its neighboring structures---a crucial difference ?

Even so, the challenge remains. "Any new design should be deferential to the original buildings and thus background structures. Also, to some degree,
one should be able to tell what is new and what is original." One approach would be to adopt the textures and/or colors of the existing non-Wright
houses, without inventing any decoration; taking the cladding and even some (simplified versions of) molding profiles, but stopping short of mimicking
fenestration or decorative roof fascia, for instance.

But that's only one possible direction ...


Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:56 am
by DavidC