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For ready reference, here's the Armstrong plan as it appears in Storrer's 1993 "FLW Companion." I don't believe we have a plan of the house as added to by John Howe.
© 1993 William Allin Storrer
(Another and more extensive monograph on Howe awaits an author and publisher. Among the omissions in Hession and Quigley is coverage of the Wright houses Howe designed additions for. A list of these is, however, included in their book (pp 213-14. n 47); they were for the Arnold, Laurent, Levin, Weisblat, Hanna, Keland, Kinney, Armstrong and Shaberg houses, during the years 1959-64. The Armstrong work spanned the years 1964-74.)
The 98 (!) photos in the listing Jay linked show any number of interesting details. Striking to me is that the board-and-sunk-batten surfaces were installed without screws to the battens, Wright's prescription---nor visible nails. Filled nail holes are virtually impossible to completely hide in clear-finished wood.
http://wrightchat.savewright.org/viewto ... =2&t=11725
In his Armstrong text W A Storrer writes, "Five thousand board feet of clear Philippine mahogany replaced the cypress . . ."
Does he mean that the house was built not with cypress but with mahogany; the additions by Howe were built with mahogany; or that the cypress was replaced throughout with mahogany ?
The latter seems unlikely. But which of the other two options is the correct one ? To my eye the photos show mahogany throughout, not cypress.
Storrer sometimes notes which apprentice supervised construction of a Wright property---but not here. (Pfeiffer virtually never provides that information.) Do we know who supervised Armstrong ?
Did the system fail and was replaced by baseboard?
I assume unheated concrete is unpleasant in the Northern winters,
perhaps the reason for the wall to wall carpeting?
The baseboard heat makes for some awkwardness at the 'window wall':
https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/43-C ... ?mmlb=g,32
House photographed by G Lane, c. 1939-45
Drawings © The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)
Howe added an informal family room beyond the kitchen and the sublime treehouse-like screen porch, both shown in the pics. He also added upper level bedrooms and a garage up the hill and street from the carport. The carport remains the main entrance; the garage is more for foul weather storage. Howe’s work was well done and practically seamless.
The current owners graciously showed Christine and me their house and the Howe addition drawings one afternoon in 2014.
Is this the first Usonian ('39) that Wright used a shift in the floor grid? (as seen on the plan). So unfortunate that it's hidden by carpeting!
Someone on a Wright FB group had recently toured it and thought that the poor air quality (downwind from Gary IN) might hurt at the price point they were asking.
I really love the Bas Relief (is that what it is called?)
This thread should answer the question about shifted grids. Armstrong may be the first house---but two commercial projects of 1929-30 preceded it.
The real significance of the shift would be in the experienced space, I would think, though the graphic evidence as visible on the drawings and on the (bare) floor is meaningful as well ? As to floor heat, that would work even if a carpet covered the concrete, wouldn't it ? Or is that wrong . . .
Anyway, it's good to know who supervised construction---people you know well ! And yes, the bas relief in wood, reminiscent of ones by Wright (Kaufmann office) and apprentices (several by Gene Masselink and others), is grand. Now we have three good photos; the orthogonal one would permit a faithful copy if someone were so moved, with the detail shot helping to reveal depth measurements and material choices, perhaps. This piece has been in the house for a long time; does anyone know if the Armstrongs commissioned or owned it ?
Another item spotted in the Zillow photos is a Schindleresque table lamp. It may have been inspired by a slightly more daring floor fixture Schindler designed for the Wolfe house on Catalina Island, long since demolished. A sad example of the original lamp is seen in an auction photo, while a reproduction can also be found, below.
The proportions and details of Schindler's original are more satisfying to the mind and the eye.
(I wonder if there is some metal in the base !)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/125471081 ... 444413635/
Great eye on the lamp similar to the Schindler floor lamp. My friend who owns a Schindler house informs me that the base is reversed. Also, there is some beautiful bas relief in the Martha Wakefield house in Rush Creek Village (its 1st house)so I wonder if TvF, who worked on the initial Armstrong construction, had a hand in fabrication of the piece in Armstrong.
My reference to metal in the base of Schindler's lamp design was meant to address a potential stability problem; the Armstrong lamp solves that problem by reversing the base. One wonders what Schindler's thinking was, there . . .
I believe "gravity heat" was FLW's term for hydronic heating below concrete floors. I am not sure about the original systems, perhaps Dan would know the answer since he is both an architect and has dealt with an operational old system, but in our new "hydronic" system there is no water but instead glycol is used so there is no response to temperature ( no freezing or boiling). Radiant floor heating I would guess refers to any heat source below the floor, commonly electric coils are used.
Radiant floor heating can be achieved with hydronic pipe loops, electric resistance coils, or heated air in channels beneath the floor. “Gravity” heating was Wright’s term for this type of heating. Historically, the underfloor heating using a fire and serpentine flue channels beneath the floor was called hypocaust heating.
Our house uses water in steel pipes beneath the floor slab and a small portion of cast iron baseboard convection in the workshop. Glycol additive was not recommended by our heating tech, but pex is a different material with different properties that can accept certain additives.