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I'll stick my neck out and say they were very good. The buildings do not slavishly mimmick Wright. They reference their architectural environment with careful gestures; a roof overhang here, a pierced roof there, some red metal, some tan stucco... but the main point is the buildings are very respectful of the site and the context. No heroics. No currently fashionable doodads or contortions. Just sensible (I'll say urban) design...it is obvious the buildings were designed to house a large program but they still do not dominate the lakefront or the campus. Siting, massing, facade colors and articulation seemed to be carefully orchestrated to minimize the bulk of the buildings and allow them to bleed into the greenscape. I found it interesting that the articulation of the facades worked both ways: looking at the buildings from across the lake, and looking from the campus out to the lake.
I sent some pics to SDR to post.
I guess due to the strong forms and monumental scale of the library, the Archives building designer decided to design a gutsy building. It is detailed as a mix of materials and pieces of both the Wright and Schweizer buildings, with some currently fashionable sunshades on its curtainwall and a big trelissed "visor" thrown in. I didn't find the Archives buildings's ties to the campus as subtle as Stern's, but I did appreciate the gesture of curving the west wall of the building to maintain the view shed to Wright's composition of the Admin building, light spire, waterdome, and Pfeiffer chapel from the corner of Johnson and McDonald. See the site plan at this link:
I'll send my pics of this to SDR for posting as well.
The overall effect is more of the same of the library, but with some smaller scale details borrowed from Wright to "humanize" a large scale building. I actually felt more comfortable walking up close to the Archives building than the original Schweizer library, probably because the smaller scale details brought the base down to a human scale. I guess it should be kept in mind that the school is much larger than it was in 1938-1959 and building growth is inevitable. Wright's buildings have a delicate, handmade quality about them that is missing in Schweizer's work. It should be noted that Schweizer's buildings due to their programs tend to be taller and larger than Wright's (the Admin building is almost residential in scale). Though the Archives building is more literal in its ties to the campus, I feel Stern's dorms really got the spirit of the place.
The Archive building site was tough though....what do you do at the front door of a Wright landscape, with tiny Wright icons, a hulking primary function building by an apprentice, and a large program? Wallflower that I am, I'd probably have utilized the hill and terraced and buried as much as I could with clearstories in the terrace walls to let as much light in as possible.
Paul's comment about dynamicism in the Archives building vs. the dorms is significant. I wonder if the architectural context along the lakefront was more robust, if Stern's approach would have been different. Other than Schweizer's fortress-like stagehouse, the buildings along the lakefront are rather calm and nondescript. By contrast, a lot is going on architecturally at the Archives site.
My only major criticism of the Archives building is the color and texture of the curved concrete wall...it is standard cold gray concrete with a large scale cast pattern of rectangles. I thought a warmer color stain or tint of the concrete would be less jarring, and a more articulated (read small AND large scale) pattern on the concrete would harmonize better...still a good building and an appropriate response to the context. The architect for the Archives building is Straughn Trout Architects http://www.straughntrout.com/, a Lakeland firm with a neat looking office building near the funeral home I unfortuntely frequented.
I can see the comments about the plainness of dorm's vertical surfaces...but it did appear that the stucco walls were attempting to visually tie to the existing plain retaining walls that line the drive up to Wright's Science/Planetarium building loading dock. In light of Mr. Henning's comments, I should note the dorms are sited at an angle to the lake, such that the "southern" walls present a broad side to the lake, and the "north" walls have sawtooth offsets to provide corner windows to the lake. The site plan (linked above) gives the Stern dorm locations as "under construction"...I'm not sure if these occupy the site of the mid-century modern buildings noted.
Most colors through out the site are "Wright beige", except for Schweizer's white precast concrete, and the Archives building's repro Wright blocks which are cast in a "Wright beige" rather than the original's darker tan.