Unbuilt home--Ludington Michigan

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outside in
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Post by outside in »

JM - never build a house by scaling the drawings - the unit system is a planning tool, not a construction detail - again, this design was never completed, and to build it now is interesting, I agree, but I wonder how much of the design will be retained once a buyer is found.

pharding
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Post by pharding »

Interesting idea, however the best that can be said is that this house will be in the manner of Frank Lloyd Wright from 60 years ago based upon a schematic set of drawings. It is like buying a new "Picasso" painting based upon a Picasso sketch from 60 years ago. Both are interesting ideas.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

Palli
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Post by Palli »

It is like buying a new "Picasso" painting based upon a Picasso sketch from 60 years ago.
...and most art & architecture is just that: retakes. Not complaining just stating.

jmcnally
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Post by jmcnally »

If we are to take inspiration from Wright's ideas, where is the limit? Take general inspiration or take a little inspiration, but if we take too much inspiration then we can be criticized for not taking it all? For every post-death project, it seems we find fault in the materials, the specific parcel of land, the choice of builders, and the need to comply with modern building codes.

I'm not an architect, so I don't have a dog in this fight. I don't know if there is a professional predisposition to these issues. I'm just an attorney with a love for Wright's art. I think the ultimate question comes down to this: should all unbuilt designs remain that way? Is the world of Wright aficionados divided into two distinct camps? If so, I am clearly in the "OK to build" camp because I seldom tell people what to do with their own money.

I look forward to a vigorous debate about that simple question. Never build, or OK to build?

Deke
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Post by Deke »

Definitely okay to build. Do whatever you want. It's your money (I hope). If you have a love for a specific design or just the general Wrightian vocabulary, do what you're heart desires. Others may hate it. So what? If you like it then who cares what others think? Who knows, you may come up with a brilliant variation on a theme. Or you may get something wrong (Massaro masonry) and serve as a cautionary tale to the next person. That's how it goes in the creative world.

Deke

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Jmcnally states the issues with some pertinent new twists. A near miss is worse than a far-from-faithful effort ? I expect that's the prevailing sentiment -- despite the apparent illogic. As for the professional perspective, it could no doubt be anticipated that the practitioner's view would be that new designs are preferable to old ones. Perhaps one of the most resistant to the idea of replicating Wright, here at Wright Chat, is a preservation architect who himself owns a Wright residence. Apres moi, le deluge -- or, "Let them eat cake" ? Or, simply the age-old and perfectly understandable desire to retain value by maintaining exclusivity ?

SDR

dkottum
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Post by dkottum »

There are some who wish to experience everyday life in a design similar to FLLW houses, but have no desire whatsoever to live that life in a place where his genuine houses exist. So we will replicate to our own satisfaction. No need to present it as anything but what it is. Kindness and encouragement by fellow Wrightians toward these many projects will always be appreciated.

doug k

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

What is worth criticism is any posthumous work that is passed off as FLW without qualification. Yahara, whatever the tour guide spiel may be, will be thought of as a FLW design rather than a riff. So too, disastrously, Monona. It is incumbent upon docents of these buildings to state emphatically what these buildings are. Even exact replicas of FLW designs (I've always liked the Montooth version of Sundt!) built post-1959 should be qualified.

jmcnally
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Post by jmcnally »

Roderick Grant wrote:What is worth criticism is any posthumous work that is passed off as FLW without qualification. Yahara, whatever the tour guide spiel may be, will be thought of as a FLW design rather than a riff. So too, disastrously, Monona. It is incumbent upon docents of these buildings to state emphatically what these buildings are. Even exact replicas of FLW designs (I've always liked the Montooth version of Sundt!) built post-1959 should be qualified.
I certainly can agree with that. As a tourist, I always like to know what is original and what is a reproduction or reconstruction, whether it is a fort, a cannon, or a car. This applies as well to the excellent renovations performed on spectacular properties such as Meyer May or Darwin Martin.

Laurie Virr
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Post by Laurie Virr »

Concomitant to Roderick Grant’s observations is the unfortunate fact that architects bereft of talent can receive a boost to their careers from their association with such posthumous works.

Monona Terrace is a prime example.

None do more damage than enthusiasts lacking the requisite ability. Many are called, but few are chosen.

Reidy
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Post by Reidy »

This reminds me of the controversy, during my childhood, over the Classics Comics series (comic-book adapations of Shakespeare, Hugo and Dickens among others) or, more recently, Turner's colorization of well-loved old movies - or, for that matter, a century of movie and TV productions of great novels and plays. When people claimed that these trashed the originals (as they often did), the comebacks were:
- The originals are still there;
- The lesser versions don't stop anybody from seeking out the real thing;
- They might even encourage people - a few at least - to find and appreciate the originals.

Even if Monona or the Yahara boathouse actively misrepresent themselves as Wright buildings, nobody who loves architecture will stay deceived for long. We have no fewer authentic works because of them.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

The primal fear seems to be that the unwashed will mistake the fake for the original, and thus misunderestimate (a Bushism) the Master's genius. Thus the generally-agreed-upon requirement of clear labeling -- in print and in the flesh -- of the true origin of the latter-day usurpation. Perhaps Reidy assumes, as I would like to, that the differences will be all too obvious; nevertheless, one can't err by overstating the obvious. I would much rather the work itself be indistinguishable from the original, and subject it to clear labeling, than to make the work different enough from what Wright intended so that the distinction is self-evident -- the current approved strategy when adding to or even repairing an historic artifact, as I perceive it.

SDR

Laurie Virr
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Post by Laurie Virr »

The virtues of restoration, and the ills of posthumous construction.

Of the contributors to Wright Chat, it is to their eternal credit that architects DRN, Paul Harding, and 'outside in', insist that their efforts are directed towards the restoration of works designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

My direct observation of the work of the first two, and 'dtc', has left me in no doubt of their stewardship, integrity and humility.

Unfortunately, my knowledge of the work of 'outside in' and 'peterm' has been gathered solely from the images they have posted on this forum, but their spirit of inquiry and determination to restore the works under their stewardship is equally admirable.

How different from those who choose to batten on, and fatten on, the work of a man who passed 52 years ago. To compound matters, when offered the opportunity to produce a thoro’ly debased version of a master’s work they obviously have no qualms. Rather, they would appear to seize it with alacrity. This despite the fact that as a consequence of changes to the code, and budget restrictions, the buildings, if constructed, would bear only superficial resemblance to Frank Lloyd Wright’s intentions. Debased, because amongst other reasons, he had an exquisite sense of scale, which is a gift, and not possessed by many.

I would suggest that to be aware of this fact, and still accept the commission, represents a betrayal of trust, especially if one is trading on having been a Taliesin apprentice. No real architect wishes to bask in the reflected glory of his mentor.

We are all aware of the disasters that have occurred as a consequence of selecting a ground plan designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, attempting to fit it to elevations decreed by modern codes, and then employing materials at odds with the original intentions. The Pfeiffer house and Monona Terrace come immediately to mind.

The excuse that if a particular architect did not accept the commission, another would, has no currency. If they really love Architecture they would not behave in that manner.

I suggest that those who are persuaded by the concept of an Organic Architecture find their own forms, and not debase those of the greatest architect since Francesco Borromini. If Frank Lloyd Wright was alive today, he would find ways to conform to the idiocy of some aspects of modern codes, whilst still maintaining his sense of scale. In his absence, it is our task.

Deke
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Post by Deke »

Another wrinkle in this age-old debate is that some works attributed to Wright and built in his lifetime may be the work of apprentices. Some apprentices made design changes on the site during construction. Others may have contributed entire designs that may or may not have been scrutinized and approved by Wright. At some point there will be a great authentication endeavor, much like what has been done for famous painters, and perhaps certain levels of attribution will be assigned to each work.

Perhaps that's a worthy project this board could work on collectively and "publish" online by the conservancy.

Deke

Palli
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Post by Palli »

Deke: yes and, I think, many pages here have already begun the project.

RE: Laurie's comment above and to state the obvious:
How can we feel that Wright's Organic Architecture most elemental tenets are universal and, at the same time, not recognize that the expression of those tenets can differ from his vocabulary? Considering his ideas as label tags diminishes their power and timelessness.
Wright used materials with their natural integrity- any material has a natural integrity.
Wright opened the interior to the exterior landscape.
Ornamentation should be integral not decoration.
The volume of space is the building.
Of the land not on the land.
Even the specific understanding that the 20th C house served both a community (public) and private function requiring two spacial zones.
...etc.
Architects can speak the language of Organic Architecture in 21st C vocabulary and their own dialect.

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