Does any Wright structure stand out Structurally?

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lang
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Does any Wright structure stand out Structurally?

Post by lang »

"Well so much for defending Wright. I stand corrected.
I guess the AEC post meant sustainable in the literate sense - still standing after 100 years?"

That post on the Wild Bird thread had me wondering: is there any building of Wright's that is unsung structurally? Wright is often criticized for leaking roofs, sagging cantilevers, ect. I guess I'm just wondering if any building stands out as "most sustainable" in anyone's mind??

Langdon

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

Once one is identified it will undoubtedly be one where Wes Peters had inserted some structural steel once FLW had left the scene.

Education Professor
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Post by Education Professor »

From my personal experience, Palmer and Shavin are two Usonian residences that seem very sound structurally........

EP

Reidy
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Post by Reidy »

The Romeo and Juliet windmill at Taliesin has held up well because of its structural ingenuity. Wright tells in his autobiography that his uncles told him it could never stand the wind stresses, but it did.

At some Conservancy event I heard a followup story. Years after his death, the building needed repair, and some of the Taliesin elders wanted to add steel reinforcement. One of the opponents said something to the effect of "So the uncles won after all." This was sufficient to change the steel partisans' mind, and they repaired Wright's wooden structure as he had built it.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Unless I am mistaken, the "structural ingenuity" Wright employed was to dispense with the conventional strategy for light-weight, uninhabited structures -- diagonal bracing throughout -- in favor of a "supported" octagonal column with a "supporting" lozenge-shaped "fin." Can anyone produce an image of the tower frame ?

The exterior shingles were replaced with cypress board-and-batten in 1938. (Can you hear him telling one and all that this would "stiffen" the tower ?) Storrer tells us that Wright "tried, at one point, to save the windmill by pouring concrete into the structure halfway to its top" (!). The windmill survived for 95 years, and was demolished and replaced -- with the original stone base and wood roof -- in 1992.

Mr Wright sometimes behaved as if the laws of gravity, and the vagaries of weather, had no application to his work. "Truth Against the World" ?

S
Last edited by SDR on Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Mr Wright tended not to expose structure, much less to use it decoratively, but (as usual) there are exceptions, particularly in the second half of his career:

Image Hillside Studio

http://blog.naver.com/PostView.nhn?blog ... listtype=0


Image Taliesin West Studio

http://news.preview.nationalgeographic. ... hoto8.html

ozwrightfan
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Post by ozwrightfan »

Two buildings come to mind; the Imperial Hotel was constructed to suit the particular conditions of the site. It was revolutionary at the time and was dismissed by many as hair brained and unconventional, until Tokyo was hit with the biggest earthquake it had ever seen and the hotel stood whilst most things around it collapsed.
Midway Gardens, whilst it had a very short life, I understand that it was so well built that was very difficult to demolish and sent the contractor broke.

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

SDR wrote: The windmill survived for 95 years, and was demolished and replaced -- with the original stone base and wood roof -- in 1992.
Is this true? What is the source of your info?

peterm
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Post by peterm »

According to Storrer, the windmill was torn down in 1990 and rebuilt on the original foundation and with the original roof.

Dedication 1992:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8XrSjKl9W0

Reconstruction:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peAF2_9s ... r_embedded

SDR
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Post by SDR »

I drew my information from Storrer. I too was surprised that the windmill had been reconstructed -- I guess I had forgotten reading that. Storrer gives a precise-looking structural plan -- but I have yet to see what the framing looks like in section or elevation. It would be hard to imagine that the architect would have passed up the opportunity to include diagonal bracing -- the simplest and most efficient counter to shear forces -- despite my suspicion that he did just that . . .

S
Last edited by SDR on Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

DRN
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Post by DRN »

peterm: thanks for posting the videos.

The restoration of Romeo and Juliet was covered in a FLLW Quarterly in the mid-'90's and Architecture magazine had an article about the restoration. As I recall the article in Architecture published line drawings of the tower as it existed before demolition. The trees hid how twisted the tower had become and how much it was leaning at the top. Apparently water leakage from the top had caused considerable rot in the framing. FLLW Quarterly was less inclined to go into great detail about the tower's vulnerability and neglect in its article than Architecture.

Still it is not bad considering the wind and weather to which it was subjected for 90-odd years.

SDR: I thought the diamond-plan Romeo was designed to act as a wind break and provide, at least in plan, diagonal bracing. Given the tower's twist and lean in its last years, I question if there was any diagonal bracing in elevation beneath the skin. I wonder if the 1938 board and batten siding was a late attempt to stiffen the tower, presuming the original sheathing was purlins and shingles over the timberframe. It is interesting to note Wes Peters was present in 1938...would the tower have failed sooner if action had not been taken in '38?

SDR
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Post by SDR »

The triangle is geometry's rigid shape -- unless that diamond is bisected into two triangles, even in plan it isn't doing much to keep things from getting out of shape. Yes, the fact that the tower twisted speaks to the fact that whatever shear resistance was provided, had begun to fail quite seriously -- I guess.

If I were trying to get a bunch of parallel boards (the siding) -- placed parallel to the frame members -- to provide for shear -- a wacky idea on the face of it -- I wouldn't settle for less than gluing their ends to the verticals of the structure -- and gluing them to each other, come to that. Then they could begin to act like a sheet of plywood at each panel location.

Filling the structure half-full of concrete ? Hmmm. . .

S

SDR
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Post by SDR »

If Wright's apparent aversion to diagonal lines in the vertical plane (i.e., in elevation) -- which I take as the explanation for the dearth of handrails in his work, for instance -- hadn't prevented it, he could have made a lively surface on the windmill tower by cladding it with boards laid on the diagonal -- perhaps alternating direction at each level or at each panel. The boards would then act as diagonal sheathing -- a time-honored (if historically under-utilized, perhaps) way of triangulating for shear in the construction of frame buildings.

As I read it, the aversion to diagonals extended to those forced upon him by structural or functional necessity -- which is what makes the Hillside trusses so unusual. Only when he could use diagonals decoratively -- as in the perfs, and again in the Hillside studio -- did he allow them into his vocabulary, perhaps.

S D R

peterm
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Post by peterm »

Though they have been fraught with problems from the beginning, (especially leaks), the Johnson and Son Administration Building (1936, additions 1951) and Johnson Research Tower are astounding from the standpoint of structure.

http://infranetlab.org/blog/wp-content/ ... e_jwax.jpg

Showing Mies a thing or two... Talk about glass curtain walls!

http://www.dailyicon.net/magazine/wp-co ... lyicon.jpg

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Romeo was indeed constructed of two equilateral triangles joined to form a parallelagram, providing a certain amount (adequate? I don't know) of bracing to Juliet. I'm sure the conversion from shingles to b&b was aesthetic, not structural. And the concrete story does not sound credible.

In addition to buildings overseen by Wes, who was a gifted structural engineer, buildings worked on by John Geiger (Zimmerman, MM Smith-working drawings), Bob Beharka (Marden) and Curtis Besinger (Walker) were among the best built. Lovness, constructed stone by stone by Virginia, and board by board by Don, was also well-built.

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