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smallest detail. How else to convince yourself that you've overcome the Ordinary, in favor of the Divine ?
Yeah, I could see that . . . The rest of the architectural world might dismiss such self-indulgence -- but who are they, anyway ?
If that's what it takes to be Wright and Company, so be it. We can be happy, and relieved, that Mr Wright used the power of his divinity for good . . . !
seemingly ... in the US ... look where expense is thrown about today -
not in scales of intimacy
and the intricate molding of space
but in grandiose scales and flat details
what did Wright say about some client"
...he knew the price of everything and the meaning of nothing
Reminds me of what Norris Kelly Smith said about Wright:
" overpraised and underestimated"
... a farm boy from the way out sticks of rural Wisconsin
Died-in-the-wool Wrightians will want to believe that there are good reasons for each and every decision that manifests itself on those thousands of
drawings -- or that the inquiry is irrelevant: the Master was a genius, and that's all that needs to be said.
Those who have dealt intimately with Wright's houses, tearing into them to save them, replacing failed members or correcting other kinds of decay in
the act of restoration, will have insight into the issue. Proof if it exists will be easy to find for the proposition that Wright's lovingly-produced detail was
just begging to be ignored by the contractor.
Any carpenter will tell you that boards with orthogonal edges -- those ripped on a table saw with the blade at 90Ã‚Âº -- are the preferable building material
from the point of view of efficient on-site manufacture of accurately-made parts. Because much wood that arrives at a building site will not be perfectly
straight, flat, and true, the cutting of bevels (for instance) will be compromised; the more extreme the angle, the greater the risk of unsatisfactory
product -- or worse. Worker safety becomes an issue, at some point.
On the drawing in WJS's post titled "Dining Room, Kitchen, and Servant's Bedroom Window Details, the upper-right figure marked "head" includes, at
its center, a board with a 60Ã‚Âº bevel. This cut must be accomplished by running the board through the table saw on edge, held vertically against the
fence. Such cuts are made much easier if there's a flat of at least an eighth of an inch -- and preferably more -- at the point.
Does the detailer know this ? Does Wright ? Was there discussion of such practical issues in the drafting room ?
Of course, its possible that the drawings are intended to show only the desired forms, with the carpenter left to substitute preferable construction
detail on-site. In any event, that is likely what happened, again and again.
The cited detail has the benefit of presenting the fewest visible joints to the observer, and might be justified as being easier to nail together. Can the
same be said of the adjacent join, immediately to the left of the one mentioned ?
In the section below, showing a window sill, the parallelogram-shaped sill member seems devised to present geometrically ideal form -- which no
observer of the built structure could possibly appreciate -- while presenting the carpenter with a number of unnecessary challenges. There is no tool
to be found on any construction site that would produce the triangular notch seen in one of these sections -- for instance.
What exactly is the point of all of this ? Why draw something that will be laughed at and ignored on site ?
The Usonian drawings are, as a group, really beautiful documents -- works of art, in fact -- while again and again they expose an intriguing point of
view about the art of construction.
search for ideal form -- at any level of detail.
It's just the seemingly perverse choice, again and again, to reinvent the wheel in ways that directly impact the budget, and the sanity of the maker, that
vexes and amuses me. I'm sure there are many examples of more orthodox detailing, throughout the work.
the contractor's own shop -- rather than on-site. Cope-and-stick sash joinery relies on one or more stationary shapers with dedicated cutters, and
the double-hung sash window requires other special parts, like the jambs with cut-in doors to access the sash weights. Close-fitting work, and
especially repeated operations producing identical parts, is always more efficiently accomplished in well-equipped workshops.
(That said, I've seen some pretty funky sash-weight ports, which might have been made with minimal equipment . . .)
Here in San Francisco, a local outfit, Ocean Sash and Door, has been in operation since 1880. And West Coast manufacturers would likely be found
to trail their eastern counterparts, chronologically, I expect.
Let me know what your experience has been in this area; I'm always interested to learn of regional practice and its history.
The door has a wooden frame, whereas the windows are glass all the way to the floor. Presumably Wright's intention was that all the mullions should line up. This meant that the bottom pane, in order to leave room for the door frame, would not be the same size as the ones above it. Apparently the carpenter figured the drawing was wrong and corrected it, as he wouldn't have done if he'd seen the adjacent windows.
The door would have led to a second-floor terrace. The Freemans left it out, so it's a sheer drop to the ground.
The Hannas contracted their house, doing as much work themselves as they could. They had seven "cabinetmakers" (carpenters selected by trial and error
over a four-week period) who stayed with them for the remainder of 1937, as the house was constructed. But the sash was made off-site . . .