Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

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toddlevin
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by toddlevin »

To SDR: Regarding your comment - "... 'doesn't have a single right angle anywhere.' I don't see that as an especially winning attribute, though the speaker no doubt has the best of intentions. For one thing, the statement can't be true---unless the quote includes the words 'in plan,' meaning 'as seen from above'...". OF COURSE that comment/statement specifically means 'in plan' - this is exactly the case in The Stuart Richardson House - there is indeed no 90 degree angle where any of the walls meet - no one is ever referencing that the doors or windows or cutouts for appliances or closet dividers (for example) may be themselves square or rectangular - that's reductio ad absurdum. One is obviously discussing the floor plan and disposition of all walls, as well as all purpose designed built-in cabinets, tables, shelving, etc. As far as your comment as not seeing this "...as an especially winning attribute..." you would be very very wrong, unless you yourself have lived in such a home and experienced it temporally over a period of time. The 60 degree angles are far more ergonomic than 90 degree angles when it come to the natural movement of a human body moving through space - and specifically around corners - Wright (and interestingly, Phillip Johnson also) discuss 90 degree turns as being "wrenching" on the human body. There is no "...best of intention..." here - this is factual truth. Wright knew it, and was quite clear on the subject. TL

Roderick Grant
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by Roderick Grant »

Hanna as built had twin beds in the master bedroom, with the heads on a slanted wall and the foot of one of the beds resolved by an interesting built-in seat (HB, Jan. '63, pp 66-7). When the children left, and the FLW-designed remodel was done, the house went from 4 bedrooms to one, with a niche for a TV that could accommodate a grandchild. The new bedroom contained a standard, square king-sized bed (page 74).

The one partial exception to the 90 degree situation would be Auldbrass, where the walls are battered to 80 degrees. Even though the doors are rectangular, when seen from other than the center line of symmetry, they look as if they are wracked one way or the other.

SDR
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by SDR »

Dear Todd Levin

Sorry to have created a hubbub where none was necessary. Of course it is true that the "reflexive" plans of Mr Wright are a marvelous improvement on the orthogonal plan, for the reasons that you and Mr Wright propose. I meant, and should have said, that if a house were literally to have "no right angles anywhere" it would not necessarily be a good thing. And I wasn't quoting you as much as all those docents and other well-meaning hyperbolists who may not realize what a literal reading of their words would indicate. Please accept my apologies for an unintended insult . . .

In speaking of P Johnson, I recently came across something he wrote, early on, as a manifesto, to the effect that architecture was not about space, not about material, not about light (I am paraphrasing broadly): that it is entirely a matter of "progression" through the structure. One hopes that he came to a more enlightened view over time---though perhaps this youthful assertion would not have been entirely alien to Wright's thoughts on the matter, at least as far as movement through architectural space is concerned ?

S

toddlevin
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by toddlevin »

SDR: Regarding Phillip Johnson's assertion that in terms of architecture "...it is entirely a matter of 'progression' through the structure..." I think there is definitely a certain truth to that, and certainly one FLLW clearly hewed towards - why else would FLLW repeatedly enclose/hide/diminish entries to many of his structures, and even then once inside compress the ceilings so severely, only to have the ceiling lift up and away from one when the threshold was finally crossed from that compressed entry into the main area? That progression in almost all FLLW buildings is indeed a crucial part of their architectural aesthetic (form and function being one and the same in his words). Furthermore, I remember PJ describing FLLW's Unity Temple - the compressed entryway to the side, the series of "wrenching" (his term) 90 degree turns, and then the final entry into the main space - as if one was metaphorically moving through a portal from the outside secular world to an interior world of the spirit - or as PJ put it, a religious building without all of the religious "mumbo-jumbo". Again, PJ's assertion "...it is entirely a matter of 'progression' through the structure..." is entirely in keeping with FLLW's manifestation in this case... T

Roderick Grant
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by Roderick Grant »

On another subject, Richardson is the only example that I am aware of where a FLW living room ceiling, which one would expect to rise up to an apex, is reversed, dropping down (not terribly much) to the midpoint. Todd, what has your experience been living in that room? It does make your house unique in that respect. I also wonder if other examples of this type, from Vigo Sundt Project onward, were detailed in the same way. The Montooth version definitely was not.

toddlevin
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by toddlevin »

Hi Roderick: The inverted pyramidal trussed ceiling is indeed a graceful marvel of both sophisticated engineering and elegant aesthetics, and I also believe it is unique in any Usonian house FLLW designed (and perhaps in any ceiling design in his entire oeuvre). I can't find a reflected ceiling plan - and trust me - I've looked everywhere. Although I could further discuss the ceiling design from a conceptual pov, I think it better to say that the room 'feels' extremely comfortable and gracious. I've specifically chosen not to clutter this main space with too much furniture or 'stuff', as this allows the space to feel even larger than it already is (and it admittedly is already very well proportioned), and also heightens the focus on the ceiling itself which is (and should be) the real jaw-dropper when people enter the room.... Todd

SDR
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by SDR »

Even more interesting than a reflected ceiling plan (which would be easy to draw, though what's wanted is an original sheet, of course) would be a section through the living room, showing how the ceiling was structured. Monograph 6 gives short shrift to the project, with a plan and elevations only.

None of the sixteen construction photographs of the house which John Sergeant included in his seminal 1976 book on the Usonians shows construction of the living-room ceiling. But one photo illustrates a bedroom ceiling, also of concentric lapped boards, with a good-sized triangular recessed light fixture at its center. Unlike the living-room ceiling, this one appears to be flat. Is that the case, Todd ?

Does anyone possess a hardback copy of Sergeant ? My 1984 paperbound copy is printed on uncoated paper, which compromises the resolution and contrast of the photos. I wonder if the original edition was printed on better stock . . .

S

toddlevin
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by toddlevin »

Hi SDR: I don't know if I can describe this accurately, but here goes - the ceiling boards are not canted, they are horizontal. Therefore, the ceiling descends from the outer three edges of the space's perimeters to the space's center point. This descent from edges to center is caused by the additive overlap of the clad boards. If the lap had been articulated in the opposite manner, the ceiling would move upward from the space's perimeter to the space's center point. Does that make sense? Todd

SDR
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by SDR »

That's a perfect description of the living-room ceiling, Todd. Is the master bedroom ceiling the reverse of that---rising from the edges toward the center ? The photo of that room in Sergeant makes the bedroom ceiling appear flat, with canted boards. (I'd like to post that photo, but my access to my web host has been severed for some reason---a glitch no doubt, which Yahoo is ignoring for the moment.)

The concept of keeping the boards level---or on a vertical surface, plumb---would have pleased Mr Wright, the geometrical purist, and the resulting sloping plane no doubt delighted him as well, as a novel means to a desired end. Multiple houses have walls like this: Pew, Lewis, and many others are in that group. Come to think of it, though, I can't name a ceiling in which level boards rise to a peak, which would seem most obvious use of this form. And of course Richardson is surely the only one with a down-sloped one . . .

S

toddlevin
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by toddlevin »

Hi SDR: The ceilings throughout the rest of the house are 'flat', but with canted boards, so there's a lot of 'edge action' to articulate the horizontal plane of the ceiling - and because of the hexagonal geometry of the house, the ceiling boards spread out across their horizontal plane in what looks like lapping waves, but of wood instead of water. The downsloped ceiling in the main space really is an engineered sculptural intervention, and I think you're correct - there is nothing like it anywhere else I've seen in FLLW's oeuvre. It's an astonishing gesture.

Roderick Grant
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by Roderick Grant »

Sorry, SDR, the hardcover of Sergeant's book is the same paper.

DavidC
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by DavidC »


DavidC
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

Post by DavidC »


DavidC
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

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DavidC
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Re: Video: Lighting at the Laurent House - Rockford, IL

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