Wright's Use Of Diamond Paned Glass

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PrairieMod
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Wright's Use Of Diamond Paned Glass

Post by PrairieMod »

After seeing the extensive use of diamond paned leaded glass Frank Lloyd Wright's "Penwern" estate this weekend at Wright & Like, I was reminded of how often Wright used this design motif in the pre-Prairie years--most famously at his own Home in Oak Park.

I'm wondering if Wright Chatters could help answer two questions:

1. How many buildings use this diamond paned glass motif

2. Why did Wright fancy such a historically period (thin "Old English") motif and use it so liberally?

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Like many another architect, Wright began by aping work that he admired, while searching for his own voice. He admired Sullivan, of course, but mentioned Richardson and others. The Craft architects working in England must have appealed to him; the diamond-paned windows speak to the vernacular influence in their work.

He was clearly after something "different," a motive which only became stronger as he matured. (Later in life, he referred to the Oak Park house and studio as "a play of volumes," as I recall it.)

SDR

SpringGreen
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Diamond Paned glass

Post by SpringGreen »

I've never gone looking for how many of his buildings used it (that could be an interesting side-calculation). But we know he used it at his sister's house, the Andrew and Jane Porter residence ("Tan-y-Deri"), and at the original construction of the Hillside Home School (both in Spring Green, WI). It appears he used it at his sister's house to cut down on the cost. We don't know why he used it at the Hillside Home School because there is no known correspondence regarding the commission (although he may have used it at Hillside for the same reason he used it at Tan-y-Deri).
"The building as architecture is born out of the heart of man, permanent consort to the ground, comrade to the trees, true reflection of man in the realm of his own spirit." FLLW, "Two Lectures in Architecture: in the Realm of Ideas".

SDR
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Post by SDR »

As late as 1908 (Davidson) and 1916 (Carr) Wright was using a modified version of the diamond-pane sash:


Image

Davidson photo © Dave Anderson


Image

Carr photo © W A Storrer


SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

An interesting subcategorization would be a tally of vertical diamonds versus horizontal diamonds. How common were horizontals in classic architecture?

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Paul Ringstrom forwards this link: http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4119/4893 ... fb1f_z.jpg

That would be the Roberts residence, remodeled by Wright in 1955 for Robert Scott. Was the glazing redone at that time, or is it original to the 1908 construction ?

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The windows are original. See Hitchcock, plate 154. The exterior was not part of the FLW remodeling, other than the new entry, and I'm not sure about that.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Using Taschen's Wright 1885-1916 I searched for building designs which showed, in sketches, drawings, or photos, the use of diamond-pane window sash. I found 54 projects, the great majority of them using traditional vertically-oriented diamond panes. Many of these windows feature a narrow band of rectangular panes as a border to the field of lozenge panes.

The earliest drawing showing horizontally-oriented diamond panes comes very early indeed: It's the second of the small Unitarian chapels Wright designed in the 1880s, the one for Sioux City, IA. The next time that horizontal diamond panes appear is in a drawing from 1902, for the unbuilt Lake Delavan Clubhouse. The appearance of this structure, with a double-height central volume lighted on three sides and flanked by single-story wings, re-appears in several subsequent residential designs, all of which are drawn with horizontal-diamond sash: the Guthrie, Roberts, Davidson, F J Baker, and Melson designs share the same tall central element and horizontal-diamond sash -- at least in drawings.

Image 1887

Image Lake Delavan Clubhouse 1902

Image Guthrie 1908

Image Roberts 1908

Image Melson 1908



Following the Lake Delavan Clubhouse of 1902 is a drawing for an "Artist's House" (1903) for an unknown client. This marks the first appearance of the oversize-pane horizontal-diamond sash, where in the narrowest casements a single diamond spans the width of the sash. This detail appears next in another design with no designated client, the "Wood and Plaster House" of 1904 (delineated by Wm Drummond, incidentally). Subsequent projects include a design for Walter Gerts, the first iteration of the A W Porter house at Taliesin, the Melson house mentioned above, and the W S Carr summer house seen earlier.

Image "Artist's House" 1903

Image "Wood and Plaster House" 1904

Image Gerts 1906

Image Porter 1907/1911 (?)



Notable projects featuring vertical diamond-pane sash include the demonstration drawing Wright made for Louis Sullivan (1887); Wright's Oak Park home; a preliminary presentation rendering of the Winslow house; and the Nathan Moore residence (among others) -- before the turn of the century. Missing among these, it might be mentioned, are two important commissions, the Heller and Husser designs.

Almost the first "Wrightian" geometric-patterned sash to appear are those at Bradley and Hickox -- greeting the new century. But he wasn't through with the diamond pane yet: the well-known rendering of "A Home in a Prairie Town" for the Ladies' Home Journal is fully fitted with them. From here forward, as before, it appears that far more such sash are shown in drawings than made it into built structures. Examples include the Quadruple Block Plan for the LHJ and Lexington Terraces. One major built example occurs in 1902, namely the Hillside Home School.

Moving forward, row housing for the Larkin Company workmen is illustrated with diamond sash, as is the Yahara River Boathouse. Beginning in 1906, Wright plays with rectangular (orthogonal) metal and wood-muntined glazing patterns; these continue throughout the remainder of the early years, alternating with a wide variety of diagonal designs. In a house drawn in 1908 for FS Baker, both diagonal-square and vertical-diamond panes appear (albeit sketched very lightly), while in the same year a house with smaller horizontally-oriented diamond panes appears for only the second time, for E E Boynton; the built residence doesn't carry them.

Image FS Baker 1908

Image Boynton 1908



The large-pane diagonal design may have led to the pattern employed at the Robie house. Here, a drawing for a bronze passage gate seems to build upon the simplicity of the previously-seen horizontal-diamond sash. The majority of the leaded windows at Robie have their busiest work near the top of the lite; designs for other structures following Robie echo this parti. They include a bathing pavilion for E C Waller (demolished), the Sherman Booth opus and a house for E Schroeder, both in 1911 (unbuilt) -- and the Vosburgh "Roberts-type" of 1916.

(None of these designs is included in the list of 54 diamond-lite sash projects; they may or may not be an outgrowth of that motif.)

Image Robie 1909

Image Robie

Image Waller Bathing Pavilion 1909

Image Booth 1911

Image Schroeder 1911

Image Vosburgh 1916
All images © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH and © 2011 The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation


There's even an elevation drawing of the Imperial Hotel showing what appears to be diamond-lite glazing on one pair of elements !

Diamond panes of any variety appearing after 1916 will have to await further study; I suspect that the list will be quite short.

SDR

PrairieMod
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Post by PrairieMod »

+1 SDR--again you prove your dedication to the cause!

I'm blown away with the frequency and breadth of commissions that employ this motif. Why?

Was it cheaper as a decorative art glass design to employ? Was there sentimentality at play or special meaning to Wright? Is it just coincidence?

SDR
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Post by SDR »

I wonder why diamond-pane glazing would be cheaper than a plain piece of glass. That's counter-intuitive -- if I understand you .


SDR

ozwrightfan
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Post by ozwrightfan »

Diamond glazing is less expensive than other forms of leadlight glazing because the diamonds are generally the same size and can be cut in bulk. Whereas the Robie glass design and other complex designs are many different dimensions and shapes and would be slower and more costly to produce.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Of course the diamond-pane glazing would be less costly to make than Wright's typical designs -- which he didn't start to make until approximately 1900 -- for the reason that you state.

There was a time when size in glass was at a premium -- when small pieces were easy to come by while large sheets (2 or 3 feet square, say) were much more precious. I expect that time had passed by the time Wright had got underway ?

I'd entertain any suggestions as to why he would so often include that ancient texture in his designs. Perhaps he had the same nostalgia for it as he had for stone and brick, for timbers, for fire ?

SDR

ozwrightfan
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Post by ozwrightfan »

Perhaps because in the designs of his homes at this time he had pared down the previous Victorian embelishments including the leaded glass designs and colours. So the diamond leaded designs were less fussy and in keeping with his design principles.
In regards to the diamond pattern running horizontally, this seems logical with the Prairie designs which accentuated the horizontal line, low to the ground principles.

DRN
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Post by DRN »

In some of the later uses of the diamond pane glass in the horizontal orientation, I suspect there may be a correlation between the hip roof pitch and the angle of the diamond caming in the windows. Unified deisgn, consistency of motif, etc.

Mark Hertzberg
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Post by Mark Hertzberg »

Eric, If you are talking about "old English," does the Moore House with its Tudor style fit in this discussion?
Mark Hertzberg

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