Florida Southern College Usonian House Progress Update

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michaelmaguire
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Florida Southern College Usonian House Progress Update

Post by michaelmaguire »

The fine woodcraft work has begun. A local company, Demoss Cabinetry, will install all of the wood features throughout the house using native Florida cypress along with some from Louisiana. This will be meticulous work as you'll see in our photos and videos over the next months.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

The extensive and generous coverage of this construction process -- in word and picture -- is a priceless resource for Wright lovers and for those who contemplate the erection of a Usonian flat-roofed house. The view from below of the framing of the carport, for instance, is inspiring -- and daunting too, I suppose.

Thank you so much. "Keep up the good work" barely says it !

SDR

peterm
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Post by peterm »

And with the benefit of hindsight, observing the strengths and weaknesses of original methods of building, this structure will be built to endure, and be much more energy efficient than its midcentury ancestors.

It looks fantastic...

Randolph C. Henning
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Post by Randolph C. Henning »

I recently visited FSC and it's Visitor's Center under construction. Unfortunately, they do not allow outsiders into the construction site so I was unable to venture beyond the fencing. I still haven't seen any floor plans posted there or on this site (although they may have been and I missed them . . ) - would love to see them to see how much the original Wright plan has been altered. How is the existing building to the west of this new building associated with the master plan? I did see renderings showing an arbor, plaza, etc. between these two buildings and am curious if that is intended as a exterior pre-function gathering space. And I'm curious as to when the project will be complete. I thought I saw a projected completion date of 2011 but, if so, that won't be met for sure.

Other FSC comments - why so much Stern (ugh! sorry, not a fan); campus landscaping hasn't looked this good in years; re-roofing, (maybe even ?restoration? of tower), etc. going on at Pfeiffer Chapel; exterior blocks in many places in many buildings in dire need of attention; would love to see a "reforestation" effort of citrus trees over the entire FLlW FSC campus to bring back the intimate context with nature which it was designed for (it would make the buildings that much better!); would love to see the water feature (symbolizing the student's path of knowledge and experience through academia into real life) that FLlW's master plan showed eventually/finally incorporated to flow through all building units .

Lastly, the addition (archive building) to the west of Nils Schweizer's library is well done, IMHO. I didn't have the opportunity to tour the interior so I have no idea how well it functions, but the exterior's scale, materials, form, etc. is a welcome and respecting compliment to Schweizer's building.

michaelmaguire
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Florida Southern College Usonian House Progress Update

Post by michaelmaguire »

Well thank you very much. The woodwork stage will really be interesting. Besides the obvious, actual furniture, all of the wood features will require the highest form of carpentry and cabinetmaking. Can't wait to see it unfold.

As for the plans, we don;t have access to the drawings, but we did post a copy of the plan and elevation that were submitted to the City of Lakeland for approval at the time of the original project. And we have also posted some historical detail, courtesy of the architect, Jeff Baker.

http://www.buildingtheusonianhouse.com/resources.html

The bungalow to the west will in fact serve as a restroom and refreshment center, along with a gift shop I'm sure. It will be the starting point for campus tours. Plans call for it to be restored to its original configuration and condition. When they stripped the siding off, they discovered that the original wooden siding had never been painted, indicating that the artificial (asbestos shingle?) version had been applied when the house was built.

jmcnally
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Post by jmcnally »

Still no glass, right Michael? Do you have any idea when it will be added?

I'll be back down there soon.

ZacharyMatthews
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Post by ZacharyMatthews »

I met the carpenters, Tom and Tom at the house last week, they said the board feet of Cypress going up is staggering. what a wonderful thing to see it in person. i've enjoyed your video channel on you tube for over a year now.

Zach

SDR
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Post by SDR »

It's an interesting truth that, in the case of certain artistic architecture and furniture design, the amount of material necessary to realize the vision is often considerably greater than that strictly necessary to provide structure and comfort. Both Craft-movement architecture and Arts & Crafts furnishings, for instance, are characterized by more-than-generous widths (and linear footage) of lumber stock. In the case of Wright, can anyone believe that there is no cost associated with those extravagant roofs, secondary interior ceiling planes, massive amounts of finished masonry and extensive horizontal extensions at every level from the ground up ?

Money saved on plastering and sub-grade construction (for instance) was surely spent instead of the visible luxuries mentioned, in the Usonian work. Mr Wright knew where to deploy the budget for maximum effect !

SDR

michaelmaguire
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Florida Southern College Usonian House Progress Update

Post by michaelmaguire »


michaelmaguire
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Florida Southern College Usonian House Progress Update

Post by michaelmaguire »

The glass inserts are still being tested. There are between 4,000 and 5,000 holes to plug, so it's a pretty big deal!

And ... an open invitation to any of you who visit Lakeland. Please plan to drop by and sit on the porch awhile.

Tim
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Post by Tim »

Great progress.

When will the project be over?

Are costs in or out of line with the original projections?

I was in Orlando recently. The houses being built were concrete block, wood truss roof, stucco, drywall. Is it unrealistic for the Lakeland house to be comparable in cost?

SDR
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Post by SDR »

The houses you saw in Orlando were no doubt standard-issue products designed for today's market using current, well-understood and routinely practiced construction techniques and (off-the-shelf) materials and components. In other words, they represent a highly-developed, largely standardized and readily replicable object.

Compare this to the Usonian house being built at FSC. Here every component is a re-thinking by Mr Wright of the normal component and of usual construction practice. Perhaps the floor slab isn't too different from that found in a conventional house. But there the similarity ends. To cite one major example, finish-grade woodwork is one of the more costly luxuries in home-building now, and this baby blows the budget big-time. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that this Usonian contains four to eight times the square footage of finish carpentry as would be found in one of the houses you inspected at Orlando. And if we're comparing enclosed volume (habitable space), recall that in the typical Usonian much, much more of that carpentry occurs outside the perimeter of that space.

So, yes, I'd say that it would be completely unreasonable to expect that the Lakeland house could be built for a price comparable to the house next door . . . I'm sorry to say.

SDR

jmcnally
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Post by jmcnally »

Wright homes could never be built for the same price as the house next door - and the legendary cost overruns prove it. The Lakeland house has been under construction for 14 months now, which is hardly the recipe for an inexpensive house. Granted, there is a lot of down time, and during its most active construction hours you might only see 2 or 4 workers there.

SDR's example of the woodwork is a good one. The interior of a Wright home is not sheetrock slapped onto the studs, all within one work shift. Factor in the built-in shelving, etc., and you can see how the carpentry adds up. You couldn't legitimately strip out the cost of finish carpentry to any large degree and still call it a Wright structure with a straight face.

Throw in the fact that the bricks are all custom made and the glass still has to be "tested" (in an ordinary home, I can't imagine the glass having to be tested), and you end up with a building that is being crafted more than it is being built.

I wish it were finished, but I have learned a lot about the process in Lakeland. I never got to see a Wright building being erected, so this is like watching a small segment of history unfold.

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »


michaelmaguire
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Post by michaelmaguire »

The ceiling installation has begun and is proceeding deliberately. The bungalow that will serve as a gift shop, and rest and refreshment center, is being expanded. A retention pond has been dug and the hum and "beep" of activity is once again easily heard each morning. Stay tuned.

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