Robie House - question about back wall

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topofsteel
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Robie House - question about back wall

Post by topofsteel »

At the bottom of the page in the link below there is a picture of the back of the Robie House (4th from bottom, Left). What is the 'sill' sticking out of the wall for? I was also curious about the ledge above the row or windows, but i'm guessing it's to support the roof in that area. Thanks.


http://www.flwright.us/FLW127.htm

Reidy
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Location: Fremont CA

Post by Reidy »

No idea what that isolated piece of trim is doing. The row of trim above the windows is probably for design consistency. You'll notice the same feature in the other photos wherever you see a horizontal row of windows not concealed by an overhang. I don't see how the roof could be any heavier over the windows than elsewhere.

The back side of Robie was not Wright's greatest moment.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

If I'm reading you correctly, that is a planter atop a column attached to a very small balcony off the Dining Room. A bit more of it shows in the photo directly below, and below that photo, in an image focused on the Playroom 'prow' is a shadowy view of the door to the Dining Room with the planter just out of shot. A cooresponding planter at the far end of the row of Living/Dining Room doors is shown in the very bottom photo. Two other shots of the Living Room end are above the image of the signs, to the left and right, and another above that to the right of the entrance photo.

I'm not sure which ledge you reference.

Reidy, I disagree with you about the 'working' sides of Robie. They weren't meant to be viewed, but they are a fascinating arrangement of solids and voids. When first built, there was a large house next door, quite close to the house, so views of that facade were not important.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Odd -- the poster speaks of the back of the house, but all photos on the left side of the page near the bottom show the front of the house.


SDR

jmcnally
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Post by jmcnally »

I believe he is referring to this stray detail:

Image

I have no answers.

DRN
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Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

The Navajo used to weave intentional imperfections into their textiles to ward off retribution from spirits for mortals aspiring to spirit-like perfection.....maybe I could start yet another Wright myth, not.

In all seriousness, I suspect that what we are seeing is either a remnant of a utilitarian appendage or wall penetration, or an attempt to mask a modern utilitarian appendage or penetration. This is the rear (north) wall of the garage. If I'm not mistaken, Mr. Robie was a tinkerer with automotive machinery...possibly the sill for long closed exhaust fan vent? I can't imagine that the mason ran out of iron-spot roman brick at this particular location and substituted a scrap of limestone for infill; it most likely was part of a former opening.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The windows to either side of the sill are part of the original plan. The sill is on the backside of the garage. It might appear to be for a window at the landing of a stair, but there was never a stair at that location. More likely it was, as DRN suggests, a vent of some sort. I cannot find any historic photos of that side of the house that would solve the mystery.

W. Wilson
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Post by W. Wilson »

There is nothing on the floor plans or elevations in Hoffman (pages 22 and 37) that indicate any type of opening at this location. Curiously, the limestone detail is located in the exterior wall of the first bay of the garage, approximately in line with the pit to allow servicing of Robie's cars. Perhaps there was some intended connection during construction.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

The oddly-placed mystery sill or lintel appears at least to be placed on the horizontal module governing the location of other similar-sized openings . . .for what that might be worth.

SDR

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »

This 'floating' lintel also happens to be thinner than all the others in this photo.


David

therman7g
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Location: Illinois

Post by therman7g »

It's a vent for the Gift Shop required by the city of Chicago.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The vent is to the far right of the photo, not the lone sill circled. I suspect there was a vent there, which must have been bricked over before the restoration, otherwise it would not have been obliterated.

Tom
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Post by Tom »


SDR
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Post by SDR »

In the photo above of the rear facade of the Robie house, the row of windows on the main (second) floor light the servants' hall. According to the published plans, the three ground floor windows light the shop portion of the garage; a bench is below the first two windows of the trio and the third, with louvers, ventilates a toilet stall. The plan shows two more identical windows to the right (disappearing from the frame); these light the laundry. At least one of those windows isn't present in the photo, which instead shows an opening below. The unidentified bar near small garage windows does align, on the drawing, with the location of the auto service pit -- for what that's worth.

SDR

W. Wilson
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Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:16 pm

Post by W. Wilson »

Ok, this question has to have a relatively simple answer. Either the lintel is original or it is not. Either the lintel was part of the original design and part of a vent or window for the garage or it was added as part of a restoration.

I am in Chicago and could easily visit the Robie house. However, I doubt that simply asking anyone behind the desk at the FLWT will answer this question. What would explain the existence of this lintel? What question or photograph would resolve this question?

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