"Lost" project reappears: house for Frank Wheeler

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SDR
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Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

The Dudley Spencer house is a solar hemicycle design, with roof edges curved in plan. Any designer who would impose upon the carpenter the
task of creating a curved and canted fascia board is a designer who doesn't understand wood---or who is willing to expose his client to the risk
of poor workmanship. It is simply not in the nature of a plank of wood to be bent in that fashion.

(There is many an inexperienced carpenter who is ignorant of the nature of this challenge---until he finds himself in the middle of it. I have met
more than one such. An architect should know better . . . especially an architect who claims to be in tune with "the nature of materials" ?)

I was able to find only one photo showing the curving portion of the Spencer fascia. There appears to be delamination along the lower edge of
the tortured fascia. Perhaps the solution to bending these thick pieces of mahogany, and to curving them into an arc as well, was to make them
of plies ?

If Dan has had the opportunity to observe close-up these pieces of carpentry, I would be most interested to know what he saw. There is a convex
curve to the fascia of the roof over the entry to the site---of a considerably tighter radius. One cringes . . .


Image

juankbedoya
Posts: 67
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:30 am

Post by juankbedoya »

Very beautiful, thanks to the guy for sharing this... This project reminds me Jacobs and Smith houses

DRN
Posts: 3919
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

All is not what it seems in this photo...
The fascia and dentil strip are kerf'd along their back face and screwed to the underlying framing and blocking. The "delamination" seen is a single ply roofing membrane that was adhered to a sacrificial piece of luan stapled to the mahogany fascia during a reroof project in the early 1990's.

The current owner is valiantly restoring the fascia, replacing it as needed, and repairing/replacing any water damaged framing found behind, in preparation for a full reroof project in the spring. Wright's naïve or just plain careless detail of letting a piece of edge flashing into a slot with some caulk at the top edge of the fascia allowed water behind the decorative mahogany to get captured in the blocking and framing behind it.

The second tier of dentils seen in this photo at the curved hemicycle fascia conceals a continuous, and detachable, fiberglass gutter designed and made by Mr. Spencer which collects water from Wright's scuppers and directs the water to an outfall over the edge of the terrace...it makes quite a waterfall during a storm. The gutter was formed on the top of the curved stone terrace wall. This was added to the house, without Taliesin review, sometime in the 1960s. From what was passed down from the Spencers, water from the scuppers was flooding the Zen garden and koi pond Mr. Spencer had fashioned in the terrace's planter. The gutter solved the water issue. The koi pond was filled in soon after however due to local herons from the nearby creek eating all of the koi.

SDR
Posts: 18789
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Thanks. I don't hear an acknowledgement of the issue I raised---kerfing alone would not allow the fascia board to be both bent and curved---but I am
interested to hear about what is there. It would be great to know what is done if and when the primary curved fascia at Spencer is replaced.

A video we have of the house appears to show the trim heavily painted. Do you know of any photos that show these fascias more clearly ? The same
video provided views of furnishings there which carry on the canted/dentil theme:


Image


Image


The earliest curved-plan Usonians, Jacobs II in 1944 and Curtis Meyer (1948) have a single-board plumb fascia. Third is Winn, with a double-board
fascia also vertical and thus cylindrical---though in that case the convex fascia appears to be somewhat faceted. Laurent (1949) has a single broad
plumb fascia. Pearce (1950) is the first built hemicycle with a canted fascia, of a unique profile. Three narrow strips below the canted fascia are plumb.

Image Pearce


Marden (1952) reverts to a plumb single-board fascia, with a narrower canted strip below. All exterior boards at Robert Llewellyn Wright, including
those of the four-board roof parapet, are laid plumb. C and G Lewis was drawn with a canted fascia with dentil band; the built house appears to have
only the former, a very slightly canted fascia board. Spencer (1956) is the last of these curved-plan houses---save Lykes, which is not a wooden house.

Wood does not grow or shrink along its length, short of being subjected to ammonia (which can temporarily soften the lignin that binds the longitudinal
cells---not a common practice) so the only way to achieve these canted curved boards would be to start with a wider board, and carve off the excess
width, before the piece is bent. I have to believe that this is what was done in the case of these fascia boards.

A piece of heavy paper or card stock will easily demonstrate the problem, and the necessary solution.

S

DRN
Posts: 3919
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

The interior of the house was embellished by Mr. Spencer as the years went on. The embellishments were not at all based on Wright’s furniture designs for the house. Only the built-in cabinets, shelves, and seats were made per the original drawings, and those drawings showed no dentils on the furniture.

Mr. Spencer described the plain mahogany board interior fascia as “plain and ugly� in a letter to John Howe in the early 1960’s, seemingly seeking approval to add dentils to the interior fascia. Howe’s reply didn’t encourage or discourage the additional dentils at the interior fascia which Mr. Spencer ran with. As the years went on, Mr. Spencer added dentils to every piece of trim imaginable, and to any piece of furniture created by him or his cabinet maker. The current owner is removing all of the added dentils returning the house to the original design intent.

I have a pic or two of removed sections of curved fascia that I’ll send to SDR.

SDR
Posts: 18789
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Well---at least he didn't want to add scrolls or ogee molding !

S

DRN
Posts: 3919
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

The never before seen Paul V. Palmer or Alex Wainer houses should be next for "CGI construction".

https://fineart.ha.com/itm/frank-lloyd- ... 071515-smp


https://fineart.ha.com/itm/works-on-pap ... 01-67130.s

Paul Ringstrom
Posts: 4269
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2005 4:53 pm
Location: Mason City, IA

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

SDR,
Where did you find the wonderful illustrations by Hugo A Avila Delgado?
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

Roderick Grant
Posts: 9865
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Palmer

Post by Roderick Grant »

The Palmer Project is an excellent design. The plans in images 2, 15 and 17 show a detail I have always liked, which was executed at the Sunday House: A flight of low-riser steps from the terrace extend through a wall of glass into the living room, turn and end at the fireplace. When talking about integrating inside and outside, that detail just about sums it up.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 9865
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Wainer

Post by Roderick Grant »

The Alex Wainer Project in the attached is dramatically different in scale from what was published in Taschen 3/286 (it doesn't appear in Mono) and its elegant simplicity is superior to the larger plan. The slight cant of the exterior walls, the tidiness of the way the equilateral angles envelope the "cabin," it's all perfection. Why the client enlarged the plan would be speculation, but it didn't improve things. If this is all the evidence of the original scheme, it would involve a lot of guesswork to produce CGI.

SDR
Posts: 18789
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Paul, see the first post of this thread. Our member Jay alerted me to this work . . .

The Wainer project appears earlier than expected in Vol 8 of the Monographs (p 55, 1952), where, as in the Taschen appearance (Vol III, p 286), it is
represented by the extended plan. The Monograph adds the elevation page identical with the one offered by Heritage Auctions; Taschen publishes a
birds-eye perspective in color.

The initial plan is an asymmetrical amalgam of hexagonal and triangular elements, assembled on a parallelogram-unit grid.

I have taken 40 screen grabs of the H A sheets. I will assemble a display of images from these three sources, in a dedicated thread.

S

SDR
Posts: 18789
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Paul V Palmer project drawings shown here:

http://wrightchat.savewright.org/viewto ... 9cb2adb1db

S

DAP
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:30 pm

Re:

Post by DAP »

Having seen the removed original fascia boards and the new fascia being installed, in fact kerfing alone was sufficent to create the curve and the cant.

In addition to the hemicycle, the "bow" of the house has a radius that is the opposite wave and therefore a kerf is not of great use as it would have to be on the wrong side of the fascia. Spencer and current carpenters were able to place 8/4 mahogany matching the proper radii and angle.
SDR wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 6:15 pm
Thanks. I don't hear an acknowledgement of the issue I raised---kerfing alone would not allow the fascia board to be both bent and curved---but I am
interested to hear about what is there. It would be great to know what is done if and when the primary curved fascia at Spencer is replaced.

A video we have of the house appears to show the trim heavily painted. Do you know of any photos that show these fascias more clearly ? The same
video provided views of furnishings there which carry on the canted/dentil theme:



The earliest curved-plan Usonians, Jacobs II in 1944 and Curtis Meyer (1948) have a single-board plumb fascia. Third is Winn, with a double-board
fascia also vertical and thus cylindrical---though in that case the convex fascia appears to be somewhat faceted. Laurent (1949) has a single broad
plumb fascia. Pearce (1950) is the first built hemicycle with a canted fascia, of a unique profile. Three narrow strips below the canted fascia are plumb.




Marden (1952) reverts to a plumb single-board fascia, with a narrower canted strip below. All exterior boards at Robert Llewellyn Wright, including
those of the four-board roof parapet, are laid plumb. C and G Lewis was drawn with a canted fascia with dentil band; the built house appears to have
only the former, a very slightly canted fascia board. Spencer (1956) is the last of these curved-plan houses---save Lykes, which is not a wooden house.

Wood does not grow or shrink along its length, short of being subjected to ammonia (which can temporarily soften the lignin that binds the longitudinal
cells---not a common practice) so the only way to achieve these canted curved boards would be to start with a wider board, and carve off the excess
width, before the piece is bent. I have to believe that this is what was done in the case of these fascia boards.

A piece of heavy paper or card stock will easily demonstrate the problem, and the necessary solution.

S

SDR
Posts: 18789
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: "Lost" project reappears: house for Frank Wheeler

Post by SDR »

Thank you, DAP; I appreciate the input from "the horse's mouth."

A kerfed board can be bent either way, convex or concave; I've done both in the course of some complex cabinetmaking work. When plywood is kerfed to make a cylindrical form, the kerfs want to go almost all the way through the sheet, to minimize (counterintuitively) the telegraphing of the kerf locations. (This method is incapable of making a curve without visible facets unless the radius is very large.) In effect the face veneer (assuming it runs perpendicular to the kerfs) is what's holding the sheet together. The resulting bent material must be supported by a framework, unless the rear face is veneered, over the open kerfs, with, say, 1/8" three-ply material.

I remain puzzled and surprised that the outward-canted Spencer fascia boards would submit to sufficient stretching (at the lower edge) and compression (along the upper edge) to permit the compound curve required. There is a technique that would make this an effortless task: impregnation under pressure of gaseous or liquid ammonia, which is capable of temporarily softening the lignin which binds the linear cells of the wood, allowing them to slide past each other as required. I'm not aware that this method is in commercial use anywhere.

There is also compwood---wood which has been compressed along its length, which somehow imparts to the material an unnatural flexibility.

S

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