Article: Unity Temple $25 million restoration plan

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SDR
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Post by SDR »

Wright's Unity Temple skylight presents a challenge to the designer: what other patterns can be proposed for the same 5 x 5 grid ? Alternate symmetries
suggest themselves, as well as asymmetrical but ordered variants. Here is just one possibility. The reader might time himself to see how long it takes for an
ordering principle to reveal itself:


Image

DRN
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Post by DRN »

Did you create this by rotating the blocks in the left most stack a quarter turn clockwise each as one moves down the stack, then turn each block in the corresponding rows a quarter turn counterclockwise with respect to each block's left?

SDR
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Post by SDR »

I did. Only later did I realize (duh) that this results in diagonal rows of identical blocks ! Wright's pattern, by contrast, is symmetrical about a single axis.

What I like about patterns like this one is that they initially read as random -- and, I think, continue to do so even when the order has been discovered. Repeat patterns are a dime a dozen; the repeats in them are usually all too obvious, especially as more repeats -- north and south, east and west -- are included in the field presented. Because only one decision was required to produce the above pattern, it presents an almost undifferentiated appearance and thus can be expected to conceal its own repeat quite effectively. I haven't, however, looked at it after expanding the field to, say, 10 x 10 or 30 x 30 cells . . .

As a young designer I coined for myself the phrase "non-arbitrary complexity" and have spent the intervening years returning to the quest from time to time. Completely ordered (as opposed to random) patterns of immense period (dimension of the repeat) can be created simply by overlaying three or more regular patterns -- checkerboard grids, as the simplest and most common example -- so that the resulting uber-pattern repeat is some dimensional multiple of the individual patterns.

By the way, I'd be happy to have a synonym for "not-arbitrary complexity" at this late date -- if anyone has one handy . . .

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Starting at top left, the images are rotated counterclockwise across the top row, continuing at the left of row two and across, and so forth through the fifth row. Because it is 5 rows square, it thereby creates the same sequence in the columns. But, unlike FLW's arrangement, this is not symmetrical about a north-south center line, nor is it symmetrical according to a diagonal pattern. The diagonal from NW to SE is alternately east and west, while the diagonal from NE to SW is consistently east.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Correct. See earlier comments.

I will play with similar patterns, both symmetrical and not, making a little collection around a 5 x 5 theme. Others are invited to do so as well. If readers would prefer these to be displayed elsewhere rather than on this thread, kindly say so . . .

(Hooray for gridded paper -- which, by the way, has become ridiculously expensive in pad form. One can print one's own from templates available online. http://www.printfreegraphpaper.com )

SDR

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Post by PrairieMod »

Not sure this has been mentioned yet or not (forgive me if so) but it's been observed that there appears to be a stylized and nested "U" and "T" in the design of these art glass lay lights. Not sure if that was FLLW's intent, but it's an interesting observation.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

That is interesting, and no, it hasn't been mentioned previously (here). I see the T; I'm not sure I see a U, though the two letters would certainly be easy to nest. I am reminded of the simple grid in the windows of the Gridley residence; isn't there another such instance, somewhere in the work ?

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

I. M. Pei designed a house (rare for him) upon which his name was clearly written across the principal façade, not in any sort of subtle "Where's Waldo" way, but architecturally in unavoidable view.

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Post by PrairieMod »

A side-by-side comparison (on the right the "U" is in magenta; the "T" in cyan.)

Image

PrairieMod
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Post by PrairieMod »

I'm sure others can see different things in the glass design (part of the beauty of abstract design?) but I think the alleged glass "T" loosely resembles the "T" of the typeface used on the building's exterior epigram:

Image

It's probably a leap of tenuous association my designer's mind is making, but just something I thought was interesting as a possibility.
Last edited by PrairieMod on Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:52 pm, edited 3 times in total.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Ah -- got it. Subtle. Thanks for the graphic !

SDR

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