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We have such a house of our own design under construction here as time, funds, and health permits. One of the great qualities of this roof is the magnificent views of the sky over the earth line, the many changes witnessed from sunrise to sunset, the stars and the moon when the room lighting is low, and the thunderstorms lighting the sky at night. Quite dramatic for sure and only the tall window wall allows such a complete view.
I would not claim Wright had this in mind when he opened up the space with this type of roof, but with his constant observation of nature to influence his architecture, I would imagine he was aware of it.
On a related note, I've found it interesting that Mr. & Mrs. Lovness built a modified version of the Peterson cottage with the shed roof instead of the other cottage designs presented to them: one was a 30/60 design with a hip roof and the other two designs had the same flat roof as the main house. Perhaps they used the shed roof design to capture the view of the lake.
A number of years ago my wife Dianne and I visited Virginia Lovness.
I remember her telling us about the view they wanted and a view they do have.
She and Don felt that a flat roofed cottage would be very much like what they aready had in the way of the main (studio) house.
The redo of the Seth Peterson cottage in Stillwater is the better of the two.
Built in cabinetry which works very well for displaying all of their artifacts.
The Seth Peterson interior seems bare, almost naked when compared to the Lovness interior. Plus the second floor loft is an added intimate attraction.
We arrived promptly at 10 am and remember saying our good byes late afternoon for we needed to return to the hotel and dress for an evening wedding at 6pm.
Virginia is a real dear. It was one of our best usonian tours ever.
It was special having refreshments on the cottage terrace and listening to Virginia retell the stories about building both houses. A treat indeed. And she even showed us her basement of the cottage. Yet another space for her collections.
There is so much going on in that space, it's impossible to imagine. As far as the landscape, I suspect that Wright anticipated how it would grow and change through the years. Seeing many old photos of some of the Usonians, during construction and soon after completion, clearly illustrates this. It's nature that is front and center.
The first is on a site that I would describe as â€˜broodingâ€™. I hasten to add that I am not aware whether that environment was existing at the time the house was designed, or if it was created, or enhanced, by Mary Palmer, whom I understand was a keen gardener.
The second site feels bright and open, the presence of the Pin Oaks intensifying that sensation, rather than diminishing it.
The platforms for the Palmer house are cut deeply into the hillside, as is witnessed by the fact that grade is just beneath the height of the sill in the area of the study, whilst the hip roof is pulled down, like a hat over the eyes. Above the living room, the hip cantilevers more than 7.6 meters, and is without frets. The house is a cave, albeit one that is beautifully constructed.
The Dobkins house is sited so that far less excavation was required than at Ann Arbor, and the platform is a single level thruâ€™out the house. In the area of the main bedroom, grade is just below the sill, but the windows have a greater height than those of the study at the Palmer house. The hip roof over the bedroom wing gratifies the sense of shelter, but without evoking the enclosure felt at the Michigan house.
Moving from the entry into the shed roof sheltered living room is a truly joyful experience during the daylight hours: the light pours into the space, and the inside and outside of the house are one. As night falls, the room appears to adopt a different vertical scale, more appropriate for activities that often involve occupants sitting.
These are two glorious houses, designed by an architect with enormous experience, and at the height of his powers, despite his age. Are they so different as a consequence of FLLWâ€™s assessments of the personalities of the individual clients? Were the briefs he received markedly dissimilar? What of the budgets? I doubt we shall ever be in possession of the answers to these queries.
I must say that your observations and thoughts about the Palmer and Dobkins houses are accurately expressed. You have experienced their spaces from time to time and can make objective comments based on being in the spaces rather than relating to the houses by viewing two dimensional images. Pictures do not express spaces truthfully. Only by spending time in a space, and participating in daily house hold activities do we start to understand and experience what Wright had in mind for his clients.
It has been 14 years that I've been fortunate to be the steward of Dobkins and in that time it (the house) has been revealing itself to us. In many aspects slowly.
Like all fine art one does not really hear a piece of music on first listening. Or see a painting on first viewing...it takes time. That is the real pleasure and joy...reading a classic that you have read numerous times before, and coming away with a fuller and richer experience.
BBuck, I agree that Mr. Wright seemed to be able to anticipate how the landscape would change over time and thus designed his houses to "grow" with or accomodate these changes. He was truly a visionary in so many ways.
Laurie, your insights and attention to detail are first-rate as always. I've never thought about it before, but "brooding" is an apt description for the Palmer house. It fits seamlessly into the site and provides a wonderful sense of shelter. Your description of the Dobkins house, "bright and open", seems right on target from the photos I've reviewed. In some ways, your description of Dobkins reminds me of my experience at the Shavin house. Perhaps you are right that Mr. Wright combined the design with the personalities of the clients along with the site requirements.....with a "wink and a nod" style of attention to the budgetary parameters. Have any of your projects lent themselves toward the use of the shed roof?
Although the property was already hilly and verdant, both Mary and William cultivated extensive gardens over the years.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Au1bdLZBaaA/T ... mer+10.JPG
For example, in the Willey house and the original studio at Taliesin he turned a similar situation into a famous clerestory window.