Richard Smith House, Jefferson, WI

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outside in
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Location: chicago

Post by outside in »

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The Smith House Restoration - The House is very sophisticated in its structural framing. Unfortunately, the radiant heating system failed in the Living Room and the thickened edge concrete slab began to heave from frost. Previous owner had also painted cypress doors and trim black (!)
Image West wall showing stone work at bedrooms.
Image The Oak Tree is alive and well!
Image Concrete slab removed, foundation wall excavation in progress. Roof has been shored.
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The Section through the Living Room shows extremely light roof framing (2x4's) with masonry wall acting as buttress to counteract horizontal forces of rafters. The glass wall has a "horizontal beam" that ties the corners together and acts to resist the horizontal forces. New slab with radiant heat and ductwork for future AC.Image
Image New flitch plates added to support cantilever, steel cable installed to strengthen horizontal beam.
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ImageNew tinted concrete slab in Living Room
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Roderick Grant
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

I wouldn't criticize Smith on the basis of its use of stone, per se. It's not the only time FLW used stone in an urban or semi-urban setting (Patrick Kinney, Gillen, Hoffman ... the latter two I've been in, and they are both superb). Nor the choice of geometries (again, Kinney, Gillen). Stone does not naturally conform to a square any more readily than a triangle. It is only my guess that the house was done by an apprentice, in part because of the relationship between the kitchen, fireplace and dining/living room in Smith as compared to the same relationship in Mathews. There is also the detail of that coat closet/kitchen terminus squared off in Smith, a violation of the triangular grid, minor as it may be, that FLW would have avoided. Sometimes the involvement of an apprentice does suggest a lower quality of work, as was the case with Davey Davison's early version of Kentuck Knob, which FLW had to correct. With others (Tafel, Besinger, Geiger), it could mean a higher level of understanding and more attention to detail.

Smith is a stone house through and through. Taliesin is a plaster house cradled in a stone base. Stone defines Taliesin, gives it gravitas. Stone almost overwhelms Smith. It's like comparing a cave to a bird's nest.

DRN
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Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

outside in:
That was a considerable undertaking!
Last edited by DRN on Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Roderick Grant »

I'm glad to see Smith has been fixed. The living room interior view confirms my impression of this house as having a cave-like attitude.

When dickering over which FLW house is good and which is bad, it should be kept in mind that it's like trying to decide which Beethoven sonata is the least and which the best. It's not like comparing Beethoven to Ethelbert Nevin. To evaluate the Smith House, compare it to the neighboring house peering over its roof.

peterm
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Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

What an enormous amount of work and thought must have gone into the restoration! It looks fantastic to me. I would love to see more interior photos...

Education Professor
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Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2005 3:10 pm

Post by Education Professor »

outside in,

Thank you very much for posting the photos and restoration drawings.......this was certainly a major undertaking.

Was the majority of the restoration confined to the living room? Also, was most of the cypress replaced?

Thanks again,

EP

John
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Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 12:25 am
Location: Shoreview, MN

Smith renovation

Post by John »

"outsidein" what are the dates of the renovation photos?

Palli Davis Holubar
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Location: Wakeman, Ohio

Post by Palli Davis Holubar »

A critique of the Richard Smith House may need to involve discussion of the client. The uncomfortableness of the design may well reflect the nature of the architect - client relationship. At least in the general knowledge, it is no secret that Richard Smith disliked the House and referred to his architect as Frank Lloyd Wrong; although he kept the house after a divorce. Perhaps study of the sociology of the situation might expose some of the issues discussed here? If any one has ready access to the Index to Taliesin Communications or the material at the Getty, the original design brief and the dynamics of the on-going process might be uncovered.


Roderick's comment brought back to me a memory of the tightness of the Smith bedroom gallery space, the stone on one side and the b&b wood- not the welcome I would want in the morning.

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

Post by Roderick Grant »

Palli, that corridor is only 16' long and almost 3'6" wide. Hardly tight. Besides, you would be housed in the master bedroom at the opposite end, where the door leads directly into the large, airy, sunlit entry, with room for a breakfast table in the morning sunlight and a view of the court. What more could you want? The master bath is a bit cramped, however.

Palli Davis Holubar
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Location: Wakeman, Ohio

Post by Palli Davis Holubar »

Roderick, I am surprised to learn that it was that wide. Odd, I have a distinct sensory memory coming out of the final bedroom to confront that stone wall. I wonder if I have forgotten other factors from the experience. It was a Wright and Like tour, perhaps the wing was particularly crowded or I was "toured" out. The windows are west and the interior would have been dark but it was well before the storm. I have a personal preference for east windows in a bedroom.
I may have another opportunity to re-experience the space; until then I won't give the memory much credence.

Roderick, SDR directed me to the reprint of your article on Robert Beharka's work from the Taliesin Fellows Journal on John Geiger's site. Michael and I appreciated greatly. That site is rich. JGonWright.com

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

Post by Roderick Grant »

I have mixed feelings about that article. I had never seen Beharka's work first hand, which put me at a distinct disadvantage. I wanted to do right by Bob, who was a good friend, but I had to rely on a lot of generalizations. He deserved a better job, but no one was willing to do the article, and Jim De Long talked me into it. The Journal had terrible problems getting people to contribute, and that caused me to write a lot more than I should have.

KevinW
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Joined: Sun Feb 06, 2005 6:41 pm

Bob Beharka

Post by KevinW »

I have submitted a piece for the upcoming Journal of the Taliesin Fellows on Bob and his great work. I will have several pictures of his buildings, and the great lamps, furniture and walnut bowls he created. For the past 8 years I was visiting Bob often, and was proud to call him my friend. Bob passed away at age 83 in January. Recently, his daughters presented me with several of his creations, which i will cherish always. I learned a lot from Bob, and miss him very much. He designed some wonderful buildings and am delighted that his work will be showcased. In fact my wife and I are working on an exhibit of his work to be shown at an arts center.
KevinW

Paul Ringstrom
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Location: Mason City, IA

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

Palli,
My memories of the Master Bedroom hallway are exactly the same as yours. That hallway can not possibly be 3'-6". FLW happened to like 1'-10" hallways.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Even Wright wouldn't subject an occupant to a 1"-10" hallway with rough stone on one side. . .!


S

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

. . .would he ?

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