Oscar Balch house (status 2020)

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juankbedoya
Posts: 178
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:30 am

Re: Oscar Balch house (status 2020)

Post by juankbedoya »

was this house expanded..?

Image

Reidy
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 3:30 pm
Location: Fremont CA

Re: Oscar Balch house (status 2020)

Post by Reidy »

The ground-floor family room is an addition. Don't know about the second floor.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10335
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: Oscar Balch house (status 2020)

Post by Roderick Grant »

The ceiling moldings are unique to Balch, in that they create visual connections between spaces, in addition to enclosing them. Notice there are no shelves lowering the ceiling heights at apertures from room to room, at least on the first floor. Perhaps the moldings are a replacement for those elements which are so commonplace in FLW's houses? Was Mr. Balch exceptionally tall? Did he object to the lowering of ceilings? Or was this house, designed so soon after FLW's hegira, an experiment in expanding his bag of architectural tricks?

Again we turn to Mr. Eifler, who has had so much more intimate connection to the house than any of the rest of us.

TomB-D
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:55 am

Re: Oscar Balch house (status 2020)

Post by TomB-D »

Hi all, I'm Tom Bassett-Dilley, architect for the current Balch House renovations, former Taliesin apprentice (1984-85--I was there when Mrs. Wright died), and Oak Park resident, formerly Chair of the Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission. I thought I'd introduce myself and participate in this forum, as the owner is interested in sharing what we're doing on the house. I'll keep my comments to design, and let the owner discuss anything more personal as she sees fit. We're fortunate to have a great team, including Von Dreele-Freerksen Construction Company, one of the leading restoration contractors in the area; they have worked on many of the Wright and other significant properties in the area, including Robie, Cheney, Hills-Decaro, and many more.

Quick introduction: finding Wright's A Testament in the high school library in 1979 made me certain I wanted to pursue architecture; my next book was Ed Mazria's Passive Solar Energy Book which showed how an architect could design a building to work with natural forces for energy efficiency the way Wright's buildings do with site and landscape (and yes, sunlight and natural ventilation too). Started my firm in 2006, and became Passive House Certified Designer in 2010, and have designed many of the first Passive House certified buildings in the Chicago region. So when the owner approached me to contemplate a Net Zero renovation for the Oscar Balch house I was both thrilled and nervous--thrilled because this combines my two passions, nervous because how in the heck would we do it sensitively?!

We're assembling a presentation that highlights the building science concepts, energy modeling, and specific strategies for this house, and expect to have that ready in the next month or so. I've contacted Barbara Gordon at the Conservancy and offered to present when we can. I'll post here when we have something set up. In the meantime, the owner's Instagram page @balchhouse is chronicling progress, and let me leave a couple images from our SketchUp model--these show how the solar array is not visible from the street, since the roof is near flat; they also show the colors we discovered on the original stucco and metal flashing--a much warmer and more colorful scheme than what you see now. The gold reminds me of Taliesin (WI), and the red of the Cherokee Red and other earthy reds he used often. Pardon the extraneous lines--it's an export from ArchiCad, so not a perfect or photo-realistic rendering.
oops, just realized I can't upload from my computer. I'll get these uploaded to my blog and will post.

juankbedoya
Posts: 178
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:30 am

Re: Oscar Balch house (status 2020)

Post by juankbedoya »

TomB-D wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:38 am
Hi all, I'm Tom Bassett-Dilley, architect for the current Balch House renovations, former Taliesin apprentice (1984-85--I was there when Mrs. Wright died), and Oak Park resident, formerly Chair of the Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission. I thought I'd introduce myself and participate in this forum, as the owner is interested in sharing what we're doing on the house. I'll keep my comments to design, and let the owner discuss anything more personal as she sees fit. We're fortunate to have a great team, including Von Dreele-Freerksen Construction Company, one of the leading restoration contractors in the area; they have worked on many of the Wright and other significant properties in the area, including Robie, Cheney, Hills-Decaro, and many more.

Quick introduction: finding Wright's A Testament in the high school library in 1979 made me certain I wanted to pursue architecture; my next book was Ed Mazria's Passive Solar Energy Book which showed how an architect could design a building to work with natural forces for energy efficiency the way Wright's buildings do with site and landscape (and yes, sunlight and natural ventilation too). Started my firm in 2006, and became Passive House Certified Designer in 2010, and have designed many of the first Passive House certified buildings in the Chicago region. So when the owner approached me to contemplate a Net Zero renovation for the Oscar Balch house I was both thrilled and nervous--thrilled because this combines my two passions, nervous because how in the heck would we do it sensitively?!

We're assembling a presentation that highlights the building science concepts, energy modeling, and specific strategies for this house, and expect to have that ready in the next month or so. I've contacted Barbara Gordon at the Conservancy and offered to present when we can. I'll post here when we have something set up. In the meantime, the owner's Instagram page @balchhouse is chronicling progress, and let me leave a couple images from our SketchUp model--these show how the solar array is not visible from the street, since the roof is near flat; they also show the colors we discovered on the original stucco and metal flashing--a much warmer and more colorful scheme than what you see now. The gold reminds me of Taliesin (WI), and the red of the Cherokee Red and other earthy reds he used often. Pardon the extraneous lines--it's an export from ArchiCad, so not a perfect or photo-realistic rendering.
oops, just realized I can't upload from my computer. I'll get these uploaded to my blog and will post.
Hi...!!! Thanks for your introduction. It's really nice to see that Balch is in good hands. I was scared about the solar panels but as you said these will be hidden.!! The Balch house is a beautifil prairie house and can't wait to see it back to its glory..!! I hope you can share us the progress... greetings from Ecuador / SouthAmerica

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