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FSC Usonian House Progress

Posted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:42 am
by michaelmaguire
All of the soffit and fascia boards have been installed and the roofers have finished their work as well. It's really going to be a lovely addition to our neighborhood!

Visit www.BuildingTheUsonianHouse.com for more

Posted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:05 pm
by jmcnally
Thanks for your great photos!

Posted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:11 pm
by SDR
What a treat. This project does for the Usonian period what the recreations at Martin in Buffalo do for the Prairie era: a seemingly-first-rate application of current technique and material science to an aesthetically-faithful interpretation of Wright drawings. The FSC work goes so far as to honor Wright's choice of "flashing" at the edge of the Usonian flat roof (see details on the drawing below).

http://02f7a98.netsolhost.com/July2012G ... rge-3.html

I gather from these photos that the cypress is being installed with at least one coat of finish -- an excellent practice in terms of efficiency and outcome, in my view. I am unclear what is going on with the incomplete coursing of the masonry wall -- the gap that remains immediately below the soffit. Is this to be filled with the perforated (?) course of block ?

The photos I link here reveal the blend of new and old which makes this project such a good demonstration of "how to build a Usonian today": steel structure, modern insulation, etc. where it doesn't show, perfect original detailing of finish materials where it does -- a fearless and thorough effort to "do it Wright." Bravo to all hands -- including the photographer(s) !

http://02f7a98.netsolhost.com/July2012G ... ge-12.html

http://02f7a98.netsolhost.com/OctoberGa ... ge-13.html

Posted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:45 pm
by jmcnally
It's been a real treat watching a FLW house being built. A lot of us aren't old enough to have seen an original going up.

Construction has been very slow and will not meet the planned 2011 opening. There is talk that a grant had been awarded but then withdrawn, and it has led to some funding issues.

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As for the openings, the artist's rendering on the sign (above) makes it look like it would be regular glass. The drawings on display at the college do not show that area of the building.

Posted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:18 pm
by Deke
This building types seems unique to me. Are there other examples of Usonians that mix specially designed blocks (a throw back to the textile block era) with wood trim? The Usonian Automatics like Tracy just used stock concrete block, right?

Posted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 7:30 pm
by jmcnally
Many of the Kalamazoo & Galesburg houses use specialty bricks with cutouts, coupled with extensive woodwork. Palmer residence in Ann Arbor, too.

Posted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:54 pm
by SDR
Of course there are any number of Usonians built with plain brick and wood -- some with brick perforations of various kinds, or perforated-block trim as at Ablin, Palmer, Zimmerman, et al. I think Deke may have a point; Wright seems to have selected the unique oversized concrete block -- in combination with cast-in-place concrete -- for the FSC material palette, and then "humanized" the faculty house with a wood roof and trim. The large block suits the scale of the campus structures; perhaps Wright saw that it wouldn't be out of place at the residential scale if used carefully ?


This is the Usonian Automatic block, from TheNatural House. The casual observer may be excused for mistaking this for ordinary CMU.

Image

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 7:53 am
by Randolph C. Henning
"It's been a real treat watching a FLW house being built. A lot of us aren't old enough to have seen an original going up." j mcnally

With all due respect . . is this truly being built exactly per the original FLlW design and drawings? I have asked that question but haven't seen it addressed by anyone in the know as to its authenticity. I would think that the building codes required certain changes. If it isn't exactly per the FLlW plans then, IMHO, it cannot and should not be referred to as "a FLW house." And even if it is being built per plans, there are some who would still not recognize it as a FLlW original, as it wasn't built under Wright's or his apprentice's supervision. So please tread lightly in thinking that this is "an original going up."

FSC Usonian House Progress

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:37 am
by michaelmaguire
The openings are for windows, which will be constructed by the DeMoss carpenters, who will be responsible for all of the wood elements.

As for the authenticity of the house, I would refer you the architect's reply to a previous inquiry:

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

Keep watching ...

FSC Usonian House Progress

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:40 am
by michaelmaguire
... and, we have posted an animated 3D video of the wall construction:

http://www.buildingtheusonianhouse.com/3danimation.html

to some extent, the blocks were designed to be safely lifted and place by one man. Each 36x9 version weighs about 80 pounds. Some of the large corner blocks are much heavier and require some mechanical aid for placement.

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:03 am
by lang
Thanks to michealmaguire for posting so much up on the internet for everyone to enjoy! The new building may not be "pure" Wright but it is as good as we are likely to get in this lifetime. I'm simply enjoying the wonderful trim-work and the clean fresh blocks!. it is a truly impressive piece of work, and to echo some others it is a pleasure to see a newly erected Usonian building! Langdon.

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:47 am
by jmcnally
Randolph C. Henning wrote:

With all due respect . . is this truly being built exactly per the original FLlW design and drawings? I have asked that question but haven't seen it addressed by anyone in the know as to its authenticity. I would think that the building codes required certain changes. If it isn't exactly per the FLlW plans then, IMHO, it cannot and should not be referred to as "a FLW house." And even if it is being built per plans, there are some who would still not recognize it as a FLlW original, as it wasn't built under Wright's or his apprentice's supervision. So please tread lightly in thinking that this is "an original going up."



No, it is not being built exactly as designed because it has three-prong plugs, the bricks are not being baked by students in the Florida sun, professional carpenters are involved, and it will have air conditioning.

I'll rephrase it. I have never seen a beautiful house being built. I am still glad that construction photos are being shared here.

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:11 am
by SDR
So, to answer Deke's question, the FSC Faculty House is built with the Usonian Automatic twin-wythe block system

Image

which descends directly from the Textile Block system of c. 1922

Image

which in turn seems to owe something to the Knitblock system of Walter Burley Griffin, drawn in 1916 (see R L Sweeney, Wright in Hollywood, p 207).

SDR

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:02 am
by peterm
The semantics of whether this is a Wright original, a posthumous creation after Wright, or a contemporary adaptation of a Wright design is open to debate. All I know as that from what I'm seeing, it looks as though it is being constructed thoughtfully, balancing what we know in hindsight about the weaknesses of some aspects of Wright's construction methods and the intentions of the architect in regards to aesthetics and detail.

I applaud your painstaking approach to this important project. It looks perfect to me...

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:02 pm
by Roderick Grant
The reference to WBG's knit block system brings up the subject of "Who's on First?" Reinforced concrete construction goes back to the 19th century, and many architects, builders and manufacturers were experimenting with various ways of using it in innovative and decorative ways. FLW even proposed a block system for a client's house as far back as 1906, and both Midway and A D German have prototypes of the knit block system worked into their design. It was a technology everyone was working on for a long time, and borrowing back and forth was commonplace.

With the restoration of Winn upcoming, the subject of a Usonian Automatic block with 3-4-5 triangles comes up. The blocks are 12"x16" with a diagonal (expressed in the perf blocks) of 20". I don't know offhand of any other use by FLW of that particular geometry.