Buffalo Boathouse/new construction methods old design???

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jlesshafft
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Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 2:56 pm

Post by jlesshafft »

The paint in the "reception room" at the front of the house with the "sunrise" fireplace is DONE, and it's hideous. Sort of a mottled green/gold that looks like someone has done a bad sponge-painting job. I'm pretty sure that it is nothing like FLW would have approved of.

usonian1
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Location: Collins, NY
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hideous paint.....not

Post by usonian1 »

jlesshafft: The paint in the reception room is not “done� as you say. It, along with a number of other temporary "interpretive" measures including the transfers on the main fireplace and windows, were done for the rather large ceremony celebrating the completion of pergola, conservatory, and carriage house last fall. If you come to the house now, you will notice that much of the reception room is disassembled to undo the change to the second floor done after 1907 (entire front moved forward approx 2 ft). One of the other posters is correct in saying that interior restoration has not yet begun (this is the next phase). Not to worry as EVERY detail of this masterpiece will be restored to the original specifications (including the wall and ceiling finishes).

jim
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Location: San Francisco

Post by jim »

If you google "Buffalo Parks" you will pull up the maps and brochure of the Olmsted Park System - an impressive and very extensive array of gracious parkways and parks not unlike Olmsted's and Jens Jensen's in Chicago (and of course Olmsted's in Boston). The Heath House adjoins Olmsted's Soldiers Place/Bidwell Parkway. Olmsted also did the grounds of H. H. Richardson's Asylum.

I have always felt that an underappreciated facet of Wright's genius is his raised basement houses such as Tomek and Coonley (in Olmsted designed Riverside) and to a lesser extent, Heath in Buffalo. Wright's house are the only houses that really respond to the opportunity that Olmsted provided, by looking out and down on the green public realm.

Over the years most of the Buffalo Olmsted landscapes suffered the indignities of our car culture, and systematic disinvestment by the city, but today the Olmsted Parks Conservancy is responsible for their maintenance, and like Martin etc., they are slowly but surely coming back.
Jim

SDR
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Post by SDR »

That excellent (central) observation is in sympathy with the most memorable (to me) point made by Grant Hildebrand in his "The Wright Space". . .about 'prospect' and 'refuge.'

Olmstead had a great vision of what a planned "natural" landscape could be. America was (is) fortunate to have had his hand at work, repeatedly.

Thanks ! SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

jim, I agree, a tome should be done on the line of designs that begin with the Winslow Stable, through Rollin Furbeck, Wm. Martin, Fricke, Tomek, Robie, and the ultimate expression of the lot, the first project for Sherman Booth. These houses all feature (with varying degrees of success) horizontal elements anchored by a tower. Sometimes, as at Tomek and Robie, the tower is not evident on the principal facade, but is revealed on the back side. In all of these houses, the exterior design is as important as (or possibly more important than) the plan. New ways of examining the work is needed to fully understand it. Much of Wright's work was done from the top down and from the outside in, rather than from bottom up and inside out. All of those houses and more are examples of that approach.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

"Top > down and inside > out" would be a good way to describe those designs -- the ones with main spaces under the roof -- that provide the kind of outlook/overlook mentioned above ?

Coonley, Thomas, Robie et al enjoy the prospect of their sites (or neighboring ones -- parkland, ideally) and might have been designed with that in mind, relegating secondary spaces to the ground floor. Of course the building must grow from the ground, and should proceed from the interior necessity to the possible if not inevitable exterior form (though lots of cheating is tolerable for a good effect !) -- but maybe the piano nobile and its ideal height and location can be allowed to dictate what supports it ?

dkottum
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Joined: Sun Jan 09, 2005 8:52 pm
Location: Battle Lake, MN

Designing from the top down and the inside out

Post by dkottum »

From the top down and the inside out? Frank Lloyd Wright? Didn't he constantly stress the plan as the basis for the design, and something about if they all fell down, the plan would reveal the elevations?

I have done some design work and I cannot for the life of me, imagine this method. I am here to learn. Would you explain this a little more?

Doug Kottom, Battle Lake, MN

SDR
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Post by SDR »

I hadn't heard that one from Mr Wright -- I'd like to know the whole quote.

I may have interrupted Roderick Grant's train of thought with my suggestion; I merely meant to emphasize the special nature of a residence in which the public rooms are at the top, and then to suggest that such a design might start with the placement of the principle spaces, under the roof, and follow with the arranging of the lower floor.

In terms of design sequence, Wright said he had the "whole" in his mind before starting to draw. It would be ideal to conceive of the plan, the elevations, and the structure simultaneously; how much of that could be arrived at without a pencil would be up to the individual.

SDR

dkottum
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Post by dkottum »

Sorry SDR, I may have misquoted. Seems I recall something like this, if a future civilization found his ruins, the relationship of plan to elevations would allow the buildings to be rebuilt. I'm certainly not a Wrightian scholar, but maybe one could help out.

Nonetheless, I am still trying to understand how Wright's buildings were designed from the top down and the outside in. I thought he always started with the plan.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Oh, I wasn't claiming that Wright designed that way, just that it seems to me like a possible method.

I do recall something like what you quoted; the point was perhaps that the elevations are implicit in the plan. Wright would have liked the idea that there was something inevitable and self-completing in his work. Who wouldn't ? :)

SDR

dkottum
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Location: Battle Lake, MN

Post by dkottum »

Thanks for your comments, SDR. I enjoy all aspects of Wright's work, and find this relationship of plan to elevation especially interesting, as well as any design methods he may have used.

Doug Kottom, Battle Lake

SDR
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Post by SDR »

The Old Man (as I affectionately call him) was even less given to discussing his creative methods than are most designers -- unfortunately. It would be wonderful to know how he proceeded to "put together" a house, in his mind and then on paper. We can only admire the results -- on paper, in photographs, and then in the flesh.

I do know that he referred to the first perspective view(s) of a new design as the "proof." As in printing, this term suggests a test of the correctness of the (design) decisions that were made up to that point; for Wright it would show that the design "worked" as an object on the ground, seen (at least) from the viewpoint(s) of the drawing(s).

A method used in Wright's office for laying out such perspectives is revealed at the bottom of a few of the drawings: the plan is constructed in two-point perspective as if drawn on the ground, to be used (by transferring every visible point, vertically) to "erect" the view above. An example that comes to mind is the long principal view of the Ennis-Brown house. Some of these drawings suggest that there were some really long straight-edges available in the office. . .!

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Decades ago, when I could walk about without running into large objects, I drew perspectives for an architect who liked to show the principal facade almost in elevation, with just a sliver of one side showing, so that one of the vanishing points was almost adjacent to the drawing and the other was at the far side of the room. He had a table made of several slab doors on sawhorses, and two pieces of extruded aluminum 10' and 14' long to use as straight edges. Once it was all set up, it wasn't so hard to do, but occasionally adjusting the staight edge would set the pin flying. This doesn't have anything to do with the current discussion, but I was just reminded ....

But seriously folks, Frank Lloyd Wright did not always say what he meant nor mean what he said. I believe he deliberately dealt in red herrings. By the age of the great houses, his technique was so assured, it's practically impossible to see, but in the early houses, examining the elevations and roof plans proves to be very revealing. The Blossom dormer on the back elevation, for instance.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Thanks. As a fellow draftsman I appreciate the detail !

I wish someone would be paid to index all of Wright's written word -- or take it on as a labor of love ? Finding his opinions on a number of matters, scattered as they are throughout the autobiography and the other books, articles and letters, is frustrating at best. The Collected Writings volumes, published by Rizzoli in the 'nineties and edited by BB Pfeiffer, could have begun the process, but are unindexed. . .

SDR

george nichols
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Post by george nichols »

SDR
I don't know what "Collected Writings" your talking about,but the five that I have by Rizzoli are
all indexed. The reprint of the first
edition of the "Autobiography" is
indexed in Vol.2. An index for the
second edition was created and published by Linn Ann Cowles in
1976. The third edition edited by
Ben Raeburn(?) in 1977 has none.
G.N.

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