Armstrong House for sale

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jay
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Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 8:04 pm

Armstrong House for sale

Post by jay »


SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by SDR »

Oh, boy . . .

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.

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© 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.

S

SDR
Posts: 19685
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by SDR »

Here's another Armstrong house thread---with more Usonian-era floor plans than I believe can be found in any other Wright Chat thread:

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 ?

S

jay
Posts: 299
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 8:04 pm

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by jay »

Does anyone know if this home originally had radiant heating?
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':
photo #33
https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/43-C ... ?mmlb=g,32

SDR
Posts: 19685
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by SDR »

The section drawing indicates 2" heating pipes in sand---Wright ever the contextualist ! (Usonian heating pipes are usually shown laid on crushed rock.)


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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)

DRN
Posts: 3993
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by DRN »

This is a neat house on a very topographically challenging site, leading to a non formulaic plan type. The realtor pics of the house are very well done too.
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.

Modmom1
Posts: 132
Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:09 pm

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by Modmom1 »

This was the house that Tony Smith was the "Clerk of the Works" on just before they received the Gunning commission. Larry Cuneo worked as an apprentice on it with him and Ted van Fossen worked as a laborer (probably as a furniture maker). Beautifully maintained minus some of the more recent design choices (bathroom with gold faucet/tile/carpet). The heat says "other" and water so does that mean "gravity heat"? The floor in the kitchen looks like tile and with so much carpet, I wonder if the system has failed. Built in '39 so I wouldn't be surprised.

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?)

SDR
Posts: 19685
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by SDR »

M M:

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 ?

S

Modmom1
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Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:09 pm

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by Modmom1 »

I since realized the Storrer piece above states that Howe replaced gravity heat with perimeter heat (and thermopane replaced 1/4" plate glass) so that explains the carpet. Too bad. I wonder how comfortable the house is in really cold weather. I recall the Weltzheimer House had perimeter heat and they closed between November and March, although they didn't have carpeting.

SDR
Posts: 19685
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by SDR »

So, does Gunning have gravity heat ? I've forgotten what we've been shown. If so, has it been a success in a central Ohio winter ?


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.

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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 !)
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Modmom1
Posts: 132
Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:09 pm

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by Modmom1 »

SDR, We replaced the failed gravity heat by removing the concrete floor and replacing it with a modern 7 zone hydronic system. We absolutely LOVE it! We are toasty even on the coldest days. As was done at Armstrong, we also replaced all the plate glass as well. It was the failed gravity heat that first brought me here hoping to find that we could thread a new system through the existing pipes. We couldn't. After removing the concrete, we discovered that the pipes (3 different types for different phases, '40, '48 and '64) underneath the concrete were in poor shape. We have all new copper plumbing and pex tubing for hydronic heat as well as installed radon mitigation (eastern portion of Columbus is on the edge of marcellus shale formation) under a new concrete floor with a grid imprint to match the original. This was BY FAR our largest expense and biggest headache!

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.

SDR
Posts: 19685
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by SDR »

Thanks, Mm. A little confused about the difference between Wright's "gravity" heat, and a hydronic system. I guess the "gravity" part is heat emanating from the floor, and hydronic is heated water vs. heated air. So, one refers to the location of the heat source, and the other is the means by which that heat is generated. Is that a fair parsing ?

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 . . .

S

Modmom1
Posts: 132
Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:09 pm

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by Modmom1 »

SDR,
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.

DRN
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Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by DRN »

Hydronic heating is heated liquid in a circulating loop that imparts its heat to a mass or the interior air. There is hydronic radiant floor heating, hydronic baseboard convection, hydronic radiator convection.

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.

SDR
Posts: 19685
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Armstrong House for sale

Post by SDR »

Thanks all. So, "anti-freeze" or radiator fluid, of a sort ? Makes sense; I wonder when that first occurred to someone . . .

S

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