Fascinating Palmer House detail

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Ed Jarolin
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Fascinating Palmer House detail

Post by Ed Jarolin »

I found the description of the glazing for pierced ceramic units to be quite interesting. From the Hildebrand book: "The glass that the blocks seem to frame individually is in fact installed in large sheets, and the ceramic units are simply laid on either side of the continuous glass pane." This detail raises several questions.



How large were the glass panes? How many blocks did they span?



Was the glass tempered or extra thick to reduce the possibilty of breaking?



What material was used to weatherproof the joint? Caulking, some type of rubber gasket, mortar?



Perhaps a former apprentice out there can shed some more light on this detail and comment on where else it was used, as well as how well it performed. I would regard the near impossiblity of replacement in the event of breakage to be a case of Wright pushing the technological envelope to the extreme.

dtc
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Palmer detail

Post by dtc »

When I toured the Palmer home about seven years ago, I must say I was surprised to discover that the perforated block windows were fired ceramic and not cast concrete. Upon close eximination I could see slight surface deformations and cupping from the firing. I'm sorry I do not remember glazing compounds or any sort of gasket.



For some reason I just figured casting them in concrete would have been the process used. (the Zimmerman perforated blocks must be ceramic as well?)



Fired ceramic has the advantage, of being waterproof when fired to stonewear temperatures. And using the same clay body of the bricks insures matching the color of the bricks to the blocks. To glaze the blocks as the masonry went up must of been maddening. And I would like to know, as well, how many blocks were spanned with a sheet of glass.



Also, although the Feiman residence in Canton, Ohio does not have perforated blocks it does have glass inserted in the T shaped perforation windows on the public side. How many T windows were spanned with one pane of glass? How does one replace?

Well maybe the present owner of the Feiman will answer these questions, for he may want to replace the broken glass in at least the one broken perforated T window.



DTC

pharding
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Post by pharding »

The best strategy for dealing with broken glass in the clay windows is similar to restoration strategies used on art glass at the Robie House and the Daveport House. The same firm is doing art glass restoration on both. If the crack is a fissure that is relatively tight and does not allow water into the house you just leave it. The next step up for a larger crack would be to leave it, apply clear silicone in the crack, and wipe it clean on both sides. If a chunk of glass is missing one would have to replace the glass with similar glass.



On the Palmer House this would entail having a mason with a grinder cut the outside joints and carefully remove the clay unit. Replace the glass with similar glass. Then do samples or mockups to arrive at a good mortar color match. Then the clay tile would be replaced. Of course you need a skilled mason. One would would work with the exterior clay unit in lieu of the interior unit because an interior intervention would be more noticeable to the homeowner if not perfect.



As always it is important to retain the original architectural fabric of the house to the maximum extent possible.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

dtc
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Palmer windows

Post by dtc »

One would be hard pressed to fine an "experienced" mason to cut away one block so the glass could be replaced. Masons in my part of the country would have a good laugh Im sure. All experienced trades people that I know work on commercial projects, and ignore small residental projects.

And if one could find a mason willing to tackle such a small job- add up a days work ( 8 hrs. minimum even if on the job less than a day) plus the time for cutting and installing the glass, for the mason will most likely not be interested in replacing glass- this seemingly easy project keeps growing.



The joy of maintaning these usonians!



DTC

pharding
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Post by pharding »

Fortunately, the need to replace glass is an uncommon occurance. One could consult with an architect who would line up a mason using his or her contacts. Having worked on multiple projects where bricks were cut out and replaced, including my own personal projects, I have found that the process is substantially less time consuming is stated in the above post.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

Ed Jarolin
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Location: Wyoming

pierced units

Post by Ed Jarolin »

My interest in this topic has sent me flipping through several books in search of further information. This search has led me to the conclusion that the Palmer house may be the only instance of the use of a pierced ceramic unit.



In the Usonian period, the use of a pierced unit of some sort appears in the following houses: Walter, Pratt, Eppstein, Levin, McCartney, Winn, Brauner, Carr, Zimmerman, Gillin, Glore, Lindholm?, Sander, Dobkins? and Ablin. I have omitted the Walton house as these seem more akin to the the Usonian Automatic type; that is capable of of having an operable window inserted.



Those in the Zimmerman, Glore, Sander, Gillin and Walter appear to me to be of precast concrete. The rest would seem to be custom concrete masonry units.



The large size of the unit, in Zimmerman at least, makes me suspect that these are individually glazed rather than the "sandwich'" assembly used at Palmer.



If anyone has any house specific info to support, refute or add to any of this please post your information.

RJH
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Post by RJH »

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flwright
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Post by flwright »

Here's a close-up shot of the Zimmerman perforated block when I was there in October. Like others, I would suspect these blocks are individually glazed and appear to simply be sealed with a glazing compound (although not the neatest job I've ever seen). The large roof overhangs would provide an enourmous amount of protection from rain and snow, therefore the glazing compound probably doesn't get a good workout.



http://www.flickr.com/photos/48418400@N00/425269232/
Morgan

SDR
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Post by SDR »

In the end, Ed's question remains unanswered: how much destruction would have to take place to replace larger sheets of glass behind pierced block.



Perhaps the idea was that the glass would be less vulnerable behind that protective screen, inside and out ?



SDR

Ed Jarolin
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Post by Ed Jarolin »

While perusing my Storrer "FLW Companion" I came across this interesting tidbit. At the Ablin house plexiglass was used as the glazing material in the pierced blocks. Was this in response to breakage or installation problems in previous installations? Or was it due to the fact that here virtually the entire kitchen wall is composed of the pierced units?



Once again, it will probably take someone who is "in the know" to shed a definitive light on things.

MHOLUBAR
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Post by MHOLUBAR »

I was lucky enough to work on cleaning the the accumulated grime off of the concrete glazing units at the Zimmerman house. I spent several hours with an art gum erasure and a vacuum cleaning the concrete sills. While working there the masons were working as well, cutting out individual bricks and turning them around so a good face was presented or replacing that unit. It really didn't take them very long, but I'm sure the contract was time and materials.
mholubar

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