UPDATE: Birdwing by Lloyd Wright to be moved to Polymath Par

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DavidC
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Post by DavidC »


Randolph C. Henning
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Post by Randolph C. Henning »

I'm uncomfortable with moving a house to save it . . its a slippery slope, especially with regards to Organic Architecture. I understand that it may be the only solution at the end of the day. And I know its not a decision made lightly. But I'm still uncomfortable with the end result. We learned after listening to the recent Oak Park meeting that some say moving a historic structure is seen as another form of demolition. When done, it, without question, presents an entirely different context. Its sort of like removing an endangered animal from its natural environment into a far away zoo . . of course we selfishly enjoy seeing the animal in the zoo (and its there for future generations to enjoy hopefully) but is the animal happy? Is the "picture" presented accurate? Is the experience seeing the house in its new location true to the original design intent? Wright always spoke that Organic Architecture was site specific . . "from the ground up." Relocating threatened works of Organic Architecture contradicts that a tad . . right?! Devil's advocate? Maybe just frustrated with people who are motivated more by money or want to build their own McMansions and thus venting because it comes to "relocating" as the only final solution. Just my two cents worth to ponder . . .

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

Randolph C. Henning wrote: Is the experience seeing the house in its new location true to the original design intent? Wright always spoke that Organic Architecture was site specific . .
This particular house was originally designed for another site. Many of Wright's homes were designed for urban street sites that possessed no organic nature of "views."

Are you saying that the Wright oeuvre better off if the Gordon, Hills, Lindholm, Duncan, etc. houses not moved or saved from demolition?

We don't live in a perfect world. If we did Wright would have physically been on-site daily during the construction of his buildings so that they represented his design intent, not the interpretation of his intent by an apprentice or mere contractor.
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

Randolph C. Henning
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Post by Randolph C. Henning »

Maybe this particular Lloyd Wright designed house isn't the best example. Picture this . . lets say the Rose Pauson opus was extant but faced impending demolition. Would you think it okay that it be moved to Pennsylvania just to save it? Or the Guggenheim moved into the middle of Central Park or Chicago's lakefront park. Its like the Imperial Hotel, which Wright designed for its urban environment, now sitting in a park. Yes, the main part of that incredible building was saved so people can still experience the building and interior space, but its experienced in a whole different realm with its original context lost. It changes "the story." I think I've never visited the Pope house because I know its not "original." And I have no desire to travel to see other Wright buildings that have been relocated. But that's just me.

As I said, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of moving real Organic Architecture to save it, not against it.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Randolph, FLW would agree with you on your main point. He would also be conflicted about restoring his work. He favored keeping Robie, because all it needed to become relevant to the 1950s, when it was threatened with demolition, was an updated kitchen. But when he had the opportunities to work on both Hollyhock and Ennis, he didn't even consider returning them to their intended use or design. He remodeled both dramatically. He might have been in favor of moving Pope-Leighey, a tiny house which could be disassembled and moved anywhere. But for the most part, he would have said "Tear it down, and I will give you something better."

(I think your zoo aside is a bit off the mark. Animals in zoos always live longer, even "happier," lives than those in the wild. I doubt any animal would be happy about being killed off in its prime for a predator's lunch. Also, zoos are not what they used to be. One is currently in the process of saving the white rhino from extinction. That's a good thing.)

As has been demonstrated on WC many times, taking FLW at his word is not always wise. His insistence that each building was a unique experience, rooted irrevocably in its site, was a gross oversimplification. Mona Lisa, the Gate of Ishtar at Babylon, the Elgin Marbles ... all sorts of works of art which were site specific, have ended up in venues that didn't even exist when they were created, and world culture is better for it. FLW even used copies of such masterpieces as the Nike of Samothrace, full-size or smaller according to its intended use, without the missing head reimagined. In the end, the only definition of 'Art' that all can agree upon is as a diminutive for the name 'Arthur.'

Rood
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Post by Rood »

Randolph C. Henning wrote:Maybe this particular Lloyd Wright designed house isn't the best example. Picture this . . lets say the Rose Pauson opus was extant but faced impending demolition. Would you think it okay that it be moved to Pennsylvania just to save it? Or the Guggenheim moved into the middle of Central Park or Chicago's lakefront park. Its like the Imperial Hotel, which Wright designed for its urban environment, now sitting in a park. Yes, the main part of that incredible building was saved so people can still experience the building and interior space, but its experienced in a whole different realm with its original context lost. It changes "the story." I think I've never visited the Pope house because I know its not "original." And I have no desire to travel to see other Wright buildings that have been relocated. But that's just me.

As I said, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of moving real Organic Architecture to save it, not against it.
Yes, in general I agree, but if the Guggenheim Museum had to be located in NYCity, wasn't Mr. Wright's preferred site a park located somewhere at the northern end of Manhattan Island? If so ... a site directly across from Central Park must have seemed a good compromise.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

All of the buildings at Polymath ... so far ... are comfortable in their new surroundings. Pauson was a desert house, which would look odd in PA. FLW would not object at all if Guggenheim were moved to Central Park; that was a site he wanted to begin with. How would it be compromised if it were moved there? Same with the Imperial. Wouldn't bother FLW a bit. In either case, just pick them up and move them across the street.

Having visited Pope, I find its location to be excellent. There is an Antebellum Mansion nearby, but not within sight of the house. The alternative was unacceptable, and the end product is wonderful. Go see it, Randolph. Until you have been through it, you haven't seen it.

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »

Having just a few days ago visited the Kimball Museum of Art in Fort Worth, TX to see the Monet: The Late Years exhibition, I can say that I, my wife (and many, many others) were greatly pleased that 52 of his original paintings were removed (temporarily) from their current settings to be seen in a completely different surround (well, to be exact, 51 - since one of the Monet's is owned by the Kimball). We understood we were not standing in the oval exhibition rooms at the Musée de l'Orangerie, where some of his Water Lily paintings were originally intended for. But, we certainly were able to appreciate their beauty in a differing venue.


David

jay
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Post by jay »

But I'm still uncomfortable with the end result.
Perhaps we should view the events in a mutually exclusive context? The original house dies when it leaves its site; but the rebirth of its idea is memorialized, or regenerated, physically in a place that will now become its own source of interest.

With the trajectory Polymath Park is on, they'll soon be (if not already) a marvelously unique location for education and experience in "Organic Architecture". From that perspective, the "end result" is quite a good thing. Granted nobody will argue it was worth the cost to achieve it.

Also in the case of Birdwing, if they're rebuilding the house to Lloyd Wright's original plan (it was altered by another architect apparently), I might argue that more good is being done than harm. [Please don't throw tomatoes at me!]

dkottum
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Post by dkottum »

A common belief is that organic architecture begins with the site. If that is true, and the site is lost, is it a good example of organic architecture?

Perhaps that often depends on the building chosen to be moved. The Duncan house is certainly more adaptable to a new site in Pennsylvania than Rose Pauson.

Or the conditions of the new site. I don't like the loss of a steep drop off the living room terrace of Lindholm in its new site. Wright designed onto topographic maps of the site. Would he have chosen this terrace design if the site was more level? Maybe, when the Palmers in Ann Arbor rotated his plan, and he went along with it, a similar drop was lost.

Personally, I am happy to see these buildings saved. But for the study of organic architecture as related to site, not so much.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

As art lovers, as devotees of architecture, we are always at risk of being misled by convenient tropes; somehow, Wright and like became more than
usually burdened with labels, catch-phrases, and clichés---always a hazard, when trying to categorize and analyze works of art.

It's the eternal problem of trying to understand and explain one medium (architecture) via another (words). One is reminded of something Schindler
wrote in 1916 (I am in jay's debt for bringing this paper to my attention):

Imagefrom Jin-Ho Park, The Journal of Architecture, v11 n1 "R.M.Schindler's theory of Space Architecture and its theoretical application to his Space Development of 1945"



One of the tropes is that Wright and the Organics had/have a lock on site-specific building. As with many other ideas on the list supposedly uniquely
characterizing Wright's innovations, this practice is simply good architecture, one employed by any responsible designer.

And, Wright was perfectly willing to break his own rules, including this one. From the very first built Usonian (whose plan was flopped to suit the client's
second-choice lot), numerous Wright designs were "pulled off the shelf" for second, third and fourth prospective owners. In others, the orientation was
altered before construction by the architect, his apprentice, the builder and/or the owner.

This thread has some useful discussion on the matter of the characterization of Organic work:

http://wrightchat.savewright.org/viewtopic.php?t=10123

S

jay
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Post by jay »

A common belief is that organic architecture begins with the site. If that is true, and the site is lost, is it a good example of organic architecture?
Clearly it's not a pure example, or a perfect example, of "organic architecture" but I'd say it's still a good example.

The exact contours of the topography are lost in the re-siting, which as you mention for Lindholm is unfortunate. But the site still has plenty of redeeming "organic" qualities, like prospect and correct orientation.

Another consideration I'd point to is the wider landscape of surrounding areas, not just the "site". As we know many Wright homes have been compromised by development encroaching just beyond site boundaries. Highways and shopping centers, little league fields and housing developments. Hell, even the power lines that altered Taliesen West' views irked Wright so much he appealed to Truman to have them removed.

When I visited the Jacobs II home a couple years ago, I came to it with the most perfect image in my mind, thanks to Herbert Jacobs' "Building with FLLW" book and its classic B&W photos. Those images were burned into my mind, with that stunning cave-like structure nestled alone in the vast country-side�the main prospect looking out on the uninterrupted horizon of rural hills and farms. The amount of open-space that accompanied the earthen structure was sublime... But, as the homeowners so candidly discussed, that sense of vast expansiveness is long gone. The main prospect now looks upon the rear-end of a housing development (an ugly two-story series of townhomes if I recall correctly). They've planted trees along the perimeter of the property for shielding purposes. And yes, the home is still absolutely breathtaking. But it has been compromised in this regard, like so many others.

I wonder..... as Polymath Park adds to its collection of homes, it's starting to resemble some notions of the Broadacre City concept (also seen in Usonia NY and Parkwyn Village MI)... Is this model of the "organic community"�one which provides protection against encroachment, guaranteeing acreage and complimentary neighbors�something else to consider in the education of Wright's "organic" ideas?

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Image


Image


The fact that at Jacobs II the flat site was manipulated to surround the "back" and ends of the structure with fill up to the second-story level makes it seem that the building would have been more at home on a down-sloping site.

Perhaps the section diagram below explains why the site was formed as it was ...?


Image

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »

My concern about Polymath Park is - what happens to the structures when the current owners are no longer there? Who, besides them, will want to maintain a 'Usonian Park'? Just think of how tough it is for a single Wright home to find the 'correct buyer'. Now, multiply that by 5.

In the meantime, I think what they are doing to save Wright and Usonian-related history is amazing!


David

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Anybody have a map or site plan of Polymath Park as it will look this year ?

Is the site a "zoo" or collection of Wright structures ? A museum ? I assume the houses are not occupied.

S

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