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"Windswept" / Studio for Franklin Watkins

Posted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 1:19 pm
by jay
Have we discussed "Windswept" on these boards before?

A very intriguing design ––– a Wright beach house! ––– that I'd love to know more about.

https://visionsofwright.wordpress.com/2 ... ouse-1940/

The lo-res images on the link above doesn't allow for a detailed viewing of the plan.

Re: "Windswept" / Studio for Franklin Watkins

Posted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 1:37 pm
by DavidC

Re: "Windswept" / Studio for Franklin Watkins

Posted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 4:20 pm
by SDR
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Perhaps most interesting is this letter from the architect to his client. We don't often get to see, in his own words, Wright's conception of the construction of one of his buildings. We have read before of his suggestion that a flat-top Usonian might have its roof constructed before the walls, on props of some sort, with the walls built beneath as a second step. Here we find the same proposal, with even less specificity as to how this might be accomplished . . .

Like the Pauson house of the year before, this house appears to depend for its structure largely the thick wall boards themselves, sewn into a fabric with a screw gun (nothing about drilling first; drill-tip Grabbers and impact drivers were were far in the future !) and provided with only the flimsiest of interior framework (in one plan, widely spaced 2x4 studs are seen on the upper floor, while in the other they appear only on the lower level). Caulking, every carpenter's fall-back for waterproofing, is proposed as a follow-up procedure once the boards have moved around, shrinking or swelling depending on the weather and the season. If any of the boards have misbehaved, "just take them out and insert others."

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Drawings and text © The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)

Re: "Windswept" / Studio for Franklin Watkins

Posted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 5:10 pm
by SDR
(In truth, the only way to draw two boards together with a screw is to bore a through-hole in the board to be penetrated, such that the screw threads will not engage that board.)

Another interesting bit in Wright's letter to Watkins is this: "Any good (not too "EXPERT") carpenter can get the boards together . . ."

Any thoughts on why he would write that ?

S

Re: "Windswept" / Studio for Franklin Watkins

Posted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 9:45 pm
by jay
Thanks for the great scans, SDR.
The upper fireplace is something, huh?
"You have your big fireplaces for emergencies."
Is this a joke about the studio being 'windswept' away?
And what was the roofing material to be?
The private area is interesting in its combination of living/bedroom duties.
Shame there is no perspective of the "open" side of the building.

Re: "Windswept" / Studio for Franklin Watkins

Posted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 10:25 pm
by SDR
Yes. It's unusual to have two views of the same side of the building, and none of the other.

In "Treasures of Taliesin" (where I found the largest reproduction of the first exterior view drawing) Bruce Pfeiffer mentions the carport as being somewhat more enclosed than usual for a Usonian, appropriate to a site with blowing salt mists. I'd have said this would be a good place for a garage.

Note that there are two patterns of roofing shown, both presumably of the same lapped boards as the walls (a modernist trope not often pulled off back in the day, but now being seen on the newest European houses) according to Wright's letter, which mentions screwing those boards from below. As if life wasn't hard enough . . .!

S

Re: "Windswept" / Studio for Franklin Watkins

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:59 am
by DRN
An elegant design that is well endowed with delight and maybe commodity, but firmness, not so much.

Wright's letter makes clear his awareness that the single thickness lapped wood walls and roof will move, cup, and check, that water and air infiltration is likely, and that all of these issues should be addressed with sealant. How many miles of sealant bead would be needed to make this building reasonably weather tight, and will it need to be reapplied each season?
As detailed, this is a camping shelter or pavilion for summer weekends or a week's getaway, not a house. If the framing was sheathed with sheet material then sided with the lapped boards, it would work. It is elegant and organic to have the inside/outside single material, but I don't believe it is sustainable.

Re: "Windswept" / Studio for Franklin Watkins

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:23 pm
by Roderick Grant
As for the lack of a perspective view of the east façade, the elevation should be enough to intuit the perspective.

This is such an elegant design, some way of constructing it more soundly should be found, even if it meant changing the material completely.

Re: "Windswept" / Studio for Franklin Watkins

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 3:45 pm
by Rood
DRN wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:59 am
An elegant design that is well endowed with delight and maybe commodity, but firmness, not so much.

Wright's letter makes clear his awareness that the single thickness lapped wood walls and roof will move, cup, and check, that water and air infiltration is likely, and that all of these issues should be addressed with sealant. How many miles of sealant bead would be needed to make this building reasonably weather tight, and will it need to be reapplied each season?
As detailed, this is a camping shelter or pavilion for summer weekends or a week's getaway, not a house. If the framing was sheathed with sheet material then sided with the lapped boards, it would work. It is elegant and organic to have the inside/outside single material, but I don't believe it is sustainable.
One day in the 1970's, while chatting with Wes Peters in the entrance to the Hillside draughting room ... about something unrelated to this subject ... he suddenly launched into an almost bitter denunciation of Mr. Wright's plan to build a house with only one size board. He said it would never have worked. Completely taken aback by his vociferousness, I changed the subject, and never asked for details, but I immediately assumed he was referring to the Watkins Studio.

Re: "Windswept" / Studio for Franklin Watkins

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:49 pm
by SDR
I am entirely supportive of Wright's---or any other designer's---urge to "get back to basics" in the the creation of objects; I suppose this is what the academics would call Reductivism ? I sympathize because I've heard the call myself, repeatedly over a lifetime of conceiving of constructions of various kinds. "Building a house with only one size board" exemplifies perfectly this motivation, and it is one of Mr Wright's more endearing tendencies, along with whole-number dimensioning and an undying allegiance to the practice of internal consistency in detailing.

Ignorance of how materials actually behave, on the other hand, is hard to accept in an architect proposing to spend another man's money on what is supposed to be, first and foremost, shelter from the elements. The best designer is one who knows his materials, and the methods typically used to work them, preferably from first-hand experience.

Mr Wright was an artist of the first caliber; he would have excelled in whatever field the fates (or, his mother) directed him toward. He wasn't afraid of hard work---indeed, he seems to have relished it. The art of architecture calls upon all the patience, endurance, and people skills that any practitioner can summon, and then some. The fact that the architect's work must satisfy so many disparate requirements---that much depends upon his familiarity with so broad a variety of particulars---demonstrates its difficulty as a chosen path. We can be grateful that Mr Wright's shortcomings were in areas other than architectural design as a high art. He seems to have known where his loyalties lay . . .

S