Freeman house concrete additions (ugh)

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Organicus
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 4:20 pm

Freeman house concrete additions (ugh)

Post by Organicus »

Some major concrete work has been added to the Freeman house. As the photo shows, the new section in the back has been poured to edge in the MIDDLE of the textile block column. Whoever is doing this clearly isn't respecting the original module pattern (see photo at http://organica.org/freeman/photo.htm)



Looking at it in person this past weekend, I was stunned this sort of thing could be done. Surely they must have an architect, and LA Cultural Affairs had to sign off on the design. Or is USC just winging it here?

Reidy
Posts: 1573
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 3:30 pm
Location: Fremont CA

Post by Reidy »

Presumably your objection is that this new pouring doesn't line up with the pier behind it. The explanation is probably that the restorers plan to cover this with cast-block cladding, at which point the elements will line up as they did originally. Historical photos would tell us what that alignment was. Drawings would establish what Wright wanted, which may not be the same.



Purists might object that the Freeman restoration, like the current Ennis retaining wall reconstruction, is false to Wright's structural method, turning it into a reinforced poured-concrete building whose blocks have nothing to do with the structure. The trouble with such objections is that Wright's method didn't work. This new support will keep the buildings going for centuries to come.

Organicus
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 4:20 pm

Freeman House concrete additions (ugh)

Post by Organicus »

Being very familiar with Eric and Louis' solution for the Ennis motor court and retaining wall, I have no issue with the textile blocks being mounted on concrete in that project. The solution is organic to the problem. My question with this Freeman post was the clear violation of original blocks by a concrete pour. Even if blocks are mounted there on that surface as a covering, it is clear the alignments are divergent from the original, still clearly visible.



OK, it's the back side of the house and only those walking down to the Schindler house below will ever see it, especially after the new ficus plantings go in. It just struck me as wrong.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 9880
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

You are incorrect about the alignment. The 4-block wide balcony is supposed to hit the columns at midpoint, and will once the thin, faux blocks are attached. There are many instances in that wonderful building where the blocks go off the grid onto a half grid. The north half of the stair tower is half a block off grid. As you can see, there are 7 blocks from the south end of the tower to the 8" wide full-height window, after which there are 5 full blocks to the north end.

Reidy
Posts: 1573
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 3:30 pm
Location: Fremont CA

Post by Reidy »

Now I see what you mean - the replacement blocks will be about an inch further out than the originals next to the window frame. One possibility (just speculating here) is that the original wasn't precisely symmetrical, but, with cladding about an inch thick, it will be. A second is that the originals actually do jut out from the level of the pour. This isn't clear from the photo. Yet a third is that the restorers are going about it wrong.

JimM
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Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 5:44 pm
Location: Austin,Texas

Post by JimM »

Regardless, all horizontal grout lines and finished parapets do allign as clearly shown on elevation drawings and throughout the exterior. Depending on how they do it, to be accurate the block facings would have to protrude in some manner above the concrete shown to allign with the adjacent patterned blocks.



That lower glass window is odd if permanent; rather than the original wood framed window.

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

Post by Roderick Grant »

That lower window was added by Rudolph Schindler when the Freemans remodelled the space under the garage as an apartment. The open loggia connecting the lower level hallway to the garage/laundry was enclosed and slightly extended to serve as a bedroom. A standard 54" bed slips between two columns spaced 64" apart with the window above the headboard. A bath was jammed into the end of the hallway. This is part of what I have a problem with as far as the "restoration" is concerned. The bathroom has been removed, but the bedroom will remain. How does that constitute restoration? So many architects worked on this house over the years, that to refer to it as just a Frank Lloyd Wright house is inaccurate. It should be Frank Lloyd Wright/Rudolph Schindler/John Lautner/Bob Clark, each taking credit/blame for his own work.

JimM
Posts: 1509
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 5:44 pm
Location: Austin,Texas

Post by JimM »

Roderick Grant wrote:That lower window


Ah, I was not aware of all that, thanks Mr. Grant. All the time I lived in LA I had been by the Freeman but never inside. It's a "big little" house in typical Wrightian proportions!



Still, the original elevation drawings show a casement window 3 blocks wide (straddling the mid point of each end block!) in that location, but the plans show an exterior door at the end of the hall. It would appear Schindler replaced a door with a window-otherwise, why replace an existing window?



Also, if you look at the picture closely, the reflection and uneven edge indicate a possible plastic/temporary material in place, rather than that actually being the final window.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 9880
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

The house was not built as the published elevations show. The 3-block wide double casement window at the end of the hall was replaced by a 2-block single casement. The 4-block wide glass doors from the hall to the loggia were removed for the remodelling, replaced by narrow plywood doors between the hall and bedroom and from the bedroom to the bath, with only a thin, plywood wall between bath and hall. As to the construction of the bedroom window, you can bet it leaked! A very thin roof 2 blocks in depth, covers the window, and the roofing was redone later to correct Schindler's underbuilt design and to keep the head of the sleeping tenant from getting wet.

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