Price House in Bartlesville, OK

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Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

A structural analysis of Grant is in order. Do the mullions actually support the roof, or is it supported by the concrete walls, chimneys and column?

JPB_1971
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Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:50 am

Post by JPB_1971 »

I think I recall reading somewhere that the Grant house has a 127 foot long concrete roof (!). Certainly some sort of ingenius structural design was in order, especially when such a large mass is contrasted with the extended, slender mullions of the double-height great room area at the end of the house.

Does anyone know the current condition of the Grant house? Hopefully the current owner(s) have the means to maintain its structural integrity.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

I would surmise that the mullion columns, in their multiplicity, would be able to support the weight of the roof slab. The seismic issue -- horizontal forces imposed by some kinds of ground movement -- is another matter. The mass of the roof slab would want to stay in place while the ground, and the base of the house, would experience horizontal displacement. To keep the roof slab moving along with the ground, shear panels or masses would be called for, and -- assuming the slab was kept in one piece -- attachment to the ground via the many walls at the uphill side of the structure would be vital -- as I see it.

There is the chimney mass, and another masonry pier, to do this job at the downhill side of the house. I don't see cantilevering as coming into play in this case. It is the seismic issue which troubles me . . .

SDR

Wrightgeek
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Location: Westerville, Ohio

Post by Wrightgeek »

The Grant Residence is owned by the son of the original client. He appears to be doing a good job of taking care of the property; the only time I visited the house a massive rebuilding of the stone walls surrounding the terrace was in progress. This was approx. 3 years ago.

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

Post by JimM »

This wonderful house is almost more perplexing than Fallingwater.

I would not want to be in Grant during an earthquake. SDR's analysis is spot on. Posts, especially steel, can handle tremendous compression. But there is simply no "there" there of substance, as far as I can see, to resist lateral movement. In addition, with movement the mullions would undoubtedly buckle.

Perhaps the roof is not as massive as it appears, and another Wright trick. There may actually be a thin slab with upturned edges (for strength and visual illusion) and timber built-up roofing. The simplest way to reduce structure is to reduce weight.

That could explain why it floats unworldly over the glass, supported by the minimal structure visible. If not, I'd sure like to see the design drawings.

Tom
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Location: Black Mountain, NC

Post by Tom »

JimM, well according to the drawings in M7 that's exactly what the roof does, it is a "tray." It would not have occurred to me looking at the sections that this would solve it, but I think you must be correct.

Original drawings also call for stamped copper fascia around the whole thing.

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

Post by JimM »

That's funny Tom! I did look at M7, but it was cursory and didn't look that close to what is a fireplace detail.

The only difference from my speculation is that there's no additional roofing, just scuppers.

Tom
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Location: Black Mountain, NC

Post by Tom »

Good call. Still would like to see the structural details. The slenderness ratio of the mullion/columns appears to be too great anyway, but obviously not. Would also like to see one of those columns up close, painted or encased steel? T-section I think.

Nevertheless, I think there is something "off" in the visual sense. Even though the steel columns hold the roof up it still has the sense to me of the four skinny poles under the Price Terrace.

Hmmm, in the later work he does go in for slenderness and filigree to some disappointing effect in many works.

Tom
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Location: Black Mountain, NC

Post by Tom »

In the Price house as you come down the living room steps there is a long flank of angled cabinetry on hinges. First, did the Price family have some kind a special collection to store and display? Second, are the angled hinged panels solid wood or ply? I would think solid given the Price budget but then they would have to be edge glued and they seem kind of wide for that without eventually warping?

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

The quickest way to identify veneered material (plywood or not) is to look at the grain. Does the color and pattern of wood grain across multiple panels match like wallpaper ? If so, it can't be solid wood -- because for the most part separate boards do not (cannot) exactly resemble each other in grain configuration.

Many perfectly flat solid-wood table tops have been made in the history of the craft. There are techniques -- extending from material selection and positioning to finishing practices -- to assure that such panels remain flat.

We've seen that Joe Price, Jr, acquired from his father or from Wright directly a passion for Japanese prints. I believe he had a large collection, and the slanted cabinet fronts with bottom ledge were designed specifically for the display of his collection -- in a manner perfectly reflecting Wright's long-held practice and preference, not often enough put into practice by a residential client !

SDR
Last edited by SDR on Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

egads
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Location: Long Beach CA

Post by egads »

Believe me, the hardwood faced plywood was expensive enough.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Yes -- well made and well-matched veneered panels shouldn't be dismissed as intrinsically inferior to solid wood panels
-- though entire segments of the furniture trade are dedicated to furthering that prejudice.


Image

Tom
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Location: Black Mountain, NC

Post by Tom »

So I assume these are ply panels. Do you know what kind of wood?

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Mahogany, I think -- based on what I can see in the photos I have. Storrer typically mentions the specie used, but not in this case . . .


S

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

Post by Roderick Grant »

I'm sure they are mahogany ply. Solid wood makes no sense.

I suspect it was Caroline Price who was the collector (as well as her brother-in-law, Joe). The house, in later years, after Harold left, was packed with collectibles of all sorts. The one comment Harold made to me about the house was that it was "so damned big!" He felt uncomfortable living in the house.

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