Detroit's TURKEL HOUSE is SOLD

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Silk&Morgan
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Detroit's TURKEL HOUSE is SOLD

Post by Silk&Morgan »

We are Norman Silk and Dale Morgan, 21 year residents of Palmer Woods subdivision in Detroit where the Turkel House is located. We recently completed the purchase of the Turkel House. Larry Brink a Wright apprentice and conservancy board member has been retained as architect. A general contractor has been selected and work will begin immediatly. We call our new house "Frank and Dorothys". Its in good structural shape, however the "systems" need to be replaced. We plan to replace the roof, install geo thermal heat/air, update electrical, and install a new kitchen using what remains of the original. Insulated glass will replace the single pane, with NO visible difference. The original terrace design never implimented will be followed and a Wright inspired landscape is planned. The house faces a wooded lot and is secluded off a busy city street. A privacy fence cast of concrete in the panel block design is proposed. Public support has been great and we are excited about the project. To make it move in conditon it will take 3-4 months. We are very interested in design, and have an eye for design and will do our best to polish this gem to the brightest. We have renovated several houses in the past including a victorian in West Canfield historic district, a 1925 Richard Marr in Palmer Woods, and 2 houses in Boston Edison Historic district. We currently have a second home in Chicago on the upper floor of a contemporary high rise just off the Magnificient Mile. We like architecture and enjoy the different styles. We are in the flower business in Birmingham Michigan. Our store BLOSSOMS sells creative arrangemnts, and provides decor for special events. We have been named best florist numerous times. We will be setting up a web site so everyone thats interested can watch the progress. If you have any information to share, it is welcome.
Norman Silk and Dale Morgan are the owners of the Dorothy Turkel House in Detroit. They have recently "completed" a major restoration/refresh of their 1955 Usonian Automatic home.

hypnoraygun
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Post by hypnoraygun »

This is great that you are going to fix up the house! I love the design of the Turkel house. Are you going to fix it up for personal use or open it up for tours?

RJH
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Post by RJH »

Congratulations on your new home.



Some words of advice. I would not change any of the windows to thermo pane or insulated windows. I know other FLW homeowners who have done so and they made absolutely no difference in costs savings. Plus, you can tell they are double pane. Especially if you have a set of double pane windows leading into a single pane mitered corner, which is very likely, the case. As far as I know, no one makes double pane mitered corner windows. Pella used to and they were VERY costly and they stopped making them. Use that money for another part of the house such a buying a more efficient boiler.



I would also rethink your idea of a cast concrete privacy fence. If Wright wanted a fence there he would have drawn one on Sheet #1 of your working drawings. My suggestion is to live in the house for a while and try and grasp what Wright wanted one to see out through the windows. He placed a trick there. I am sure. You just haven

Randolph C. Henning
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RJH's negative comments regarding architects

Post by Randolph C. Henning »

I take exception, on behalf of all us architects, to RJH's overall negative comments regarding architects in his post giving advice to the new owners of the Turkel home. Ever been to a symphony that didn't have a conductor? Ever had surgery without a doctor? Would you go into court without an attorney? Why anyone would counsel people to skip retaining the skilled and experienced professional architect in this case is beyond me and way beyond arrongance. And overpriced . . ? How does RJH know? I say priceless!

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Congratulations and good luck. Maya Moran, former owner of Tomek once said "Frank Lloyd Wright houses don't need owners; they need mothers." Treat Turkel like a beloved child. I agree and disagree with RJH. First, I have known Larry Brink for a long time; he is dedicated to "The Cause." Having an experienced, knowledgeable and sensitive architect on your side can only help. I agree with the part about the privacy wall ... to an extent. It's understandable that you would want to create a barrier against 7 Mile Drive, but that could be handled more easily with landscaping than concrete. Notice that there is a very broad, low planter outside the two fenestrated walls of the living room. That is not there by accident. The intense grid of the window walls makes viewing out uncomfortable, like looking out through the bars of a cage. The focus of the living room is interior, as is usually the case with FLW houses. I personally would fill the planter with an array of decorative planting standing tall, but not too dense (certainly not a hedge of any kind, privet or otherwise) so that the effect would be of an isolated, inward-focussed room surrounded by a garden experienced peripherally. FLW never catered to the view, even when it was spectacular, as with the Walker House in Carmel or Fallingwater. Trying to create a view from the living room outward would simply fail. I also agree that, no matter what experiences you may have had with other buildings, your experience with FLW will be unlike anything else. So buckle your seat belt. It's going to be a bumpy ride!

Richard
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Location: Illinois

Post by Richard »

Bumpy ride for sure, turbulence extreme at times. But since you are experienced renovaters the surprises should be of little consequence. Prior to owning a Wright house, I had been through 30 or so renovations. There were more surprises in the Wright house than all the others combined. I have found that an experienced architect in a Wright project is essential. They take the sting out of the nasty surprises and come up with timely sound alternatives. Also, a good heating contractor may use an engineer type to calculate the difference between single and double pane glass. You may or may not be able to acheive a reasonable return. But who knows where nergy prices are heading... On my Wright house, the new high efficiency boiler appears to be making a huge difference; it was installed this year. Lastly, the cardinal rule in doing an important renovation as I am sure you know, is to never let contrators make design decisions. Other than that, good luck with your project and congratulations on your purchase.
Homeowner

RJH
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Post by RJH »

Henning

therman7g
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Book in the making?

Post by therman7g »

Hey RJH, will you be doing a book on your restoration of the Haynes house. How much blood sweat & tears and money did it take to restore your Wright? I'd be interested in reading that one.

Randolph C. Henning
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Post by Randolph C. Henning »

RJH - I reread your initial post and didn't read where you were specific in talking about only FLlW restoration architects, so it still reads like an attack to me. Putting no offense to Mr. Brink in front of architects being overpriced and unecessary maybe slowed the arrows down a tad, but they still hit their target. Is that what is referred to as collateral damage? But I'm glad you clarified your position . . somewhat.



Anyway, back to the (W)right path to the Turkel opus . . my heatfelt congrats to Silk & Morgan and best wishes for many years of life in your Wright home.

therman7g
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Divine design?

Post by therman7g »

Was Mrs. Turkel happy with house? Was it everything she wanted?

RJH
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Post by RJH »

Therman7g,



You can read about my efforts with the Haynes house in the most recent edition of the FLWBC edition of the

Craig
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Post by Craig »

RJH,



I am confused. The Haynes house was for sale a few years ago. When I visited the house at that time it seemed to me to have been already restored. Are you the purchaser at that time or the person who did the restoration prior to when it was offered for sale? Looking at the photos on your web site the only changes I see are that you have recreated the furniture. I am curious as to what else you have done to the house.
ch

RJH
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Post by RJH »

Hi Craig! I think the realtor told me about you. That you flew in from Florida to possibly buy the house but you couldn

RJH
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Post by RJH »

Roderick Grant,


It's understandable that you would want to create a barrier against 7 Mile Drive, but that could be handled more easily with landscaping than concrete. Notice that there is a very broad, low planter outside the two fenestrated walls of the living room. That is not there by accident. The intense grid of the window walls makes viewing out uncomfortable, like looking out through the bars of a cage. The focus of the living room is interior, as is usually the case with FLW houses. I personally would fill the planter with an array of decorative planting standing tall, but not too dense (certainly not a hedge of any kind, privet or otherwise) so that the effect would be of an isolated, inward-focussed room surrounded by a garden experienced peripherally.


You are very perceptive! I think that the ordinary man would have thought that those planters were there solely there for flowers alone. Your

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

I would not say that FLW steadfastly ignored views, but he would not compromise his designs to accommodate them. At Walker, for instance, the view is of one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, yet there are built-in seats along the outside wall aimed at the fireplace, away from the view. Even in the living room at Taliesin with two walls of windows, one does not tend to notice the views at all. The Ennis House has some of the best views in Los Angeles, the spectacular Hollywood Hills views of the city lights. Most architects who build in the hills make way for as much glass as possible on the south side to take in those views, but at Ennis, you have to go to the window to see what's outside. The massive, solid walls block out much of the view. If the original design for the windows had been executed, the view would have been even more downplayed. In most cases where there are extensive areas of glass, the view is of FLW's making, such as those of your own expansive lawn, or the Mossberg's landscaped property. Turkel has nothing to look at, as I recall. The entrance facade of the house is a driveway away from the lot line and all but blank so the main rooms can open up to the private lawn. The house forms two sides of a virtual courtyard; defining the nature of the other two sides is what needs to be done.

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