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Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:46 pm
by SDR
Any event or circumstance which raises questions and fosters discussion about what constitutes responsible and responsive restoration/preservation of historically significant architecture, is a good thing, as I see it. Last week we witnessed the extent of devotion some have given to "original fabric" in Wright restoration -- burying inadequate original plaster beneath new material, I ask you ! -- so of course the Taliesin West example is a welcome opportunity, a unique crisi-tunity* with more than one potentially satisfying/disappointing outcome.

Clearly no single spatial/temporal version of a building can meet all needs. How about a dual campus, assuming there is enough acreage available: two TWests, side by side, one a usable present-day campus, the other a creation/recreation of the site circa 1940 ? As a precedent I'm thinking of the Ise Shinto shrine in Honshu, which by tradition is rebuilt on a neighboring site every twenty years.


* see Homer Simpson

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 8:04 pm
by Rood
Yesterday someone at Taliesin suggested the restoration-mad crowd reconstruct Ocatilla near Taliesin West ... for tourists and purists, alike.

Designed and constructed by Mr. Wright in the late 1920's on a rocky outcrop near the site of San Marcos in-the-Desert, the expansive hotel commissioned by Dr. Chandler, Ocatilla did have canvas roofs, and as an example of what it must have been like to live in the desert in the early days, what could be more reasonable and appropriate. Located on property adjacent to Taliesin West, it would be a unique solution to the problem, compared to the horrendous job of tearing down half of Taliesin West to satisfy a few preservationists ... who apparently don't know their a__ from a hole in the ground.

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 8:56 pm
by SDR
Leave the accretions and paint, the glass and plastic and caulk and Olga's follies -- and the blasted AC -- and use it until the end of time. Then, on an adjacent site, lovingly start again, complete with Wes's wheelbarrow races and posed photos of half-clad apprentices and the whole nine yards, stopping when the first phases of the original construction are done. Think of what would be learned, and experienced, by novices and initiates alike.

Pick a point in time -- or, begin the "improvements" again, cautiously, with better choices of weatherproofing ? Maybe for a while each bay of the drafting room could demonstrate a different solution -- redone by each succeeding class ? In any event, the curse of "original fabric" is removed from the mix, so that the design and the joy can be celebrated anew. Visitors can toggle between the two versions, and learn even more than they can now, from a trip to Scottsdale.

If those seriously interested in the work could only get past the idea that each building occurs only once, in time and space, how much more of Wright could be experienced by the generations to come.


Posted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:00 pm
by Roderick Grant
Among those who disdain architectural restoration of the sort that mummifies a building in perfect imitation of its original state would be Frank, Himself. If T-West were allowed to disintegrate to a noble ruin, he probably wouldn't mind at all. He would not be happy about the kind and quality of growth and alteration that has infected the site since his death. I doubt he would even tolerate air conditioning. What would distress him most would be 57 years of bacterial growth of Scottsdale up to his doorstep. But there's no cure for that.

T-West has preservation problems that make the situation in Wisconsin look trifling by comparison.

Posted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:45 pm
by SDR
More pieces of the Rosenbaum restoration drawing set: the lower roof over the garden-side living room and dining room.






Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:23 pm
by Tom
I've sent SDR some closer shots of the above pages.

Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:25 pm
by SDR
Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

Image 5

Image 6

Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:52 pm
by Tom
In picture 4 above, the top corner of the framing plan, there is a piece called out as double 2x8's with double 2x6's tapered and attached to top of 2x8's. This piece is horizontal (E/W) in the drawing.

I'm assuming that this is a continuous piece and the the double 2x's drawn through it's center are blocking on either side.

The drawings don't seem to distinguish in section between a blocking 2x and a continuous 2x. ...frustrating.

Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 8:02 pm
by JChoate
This thread started with Stanley Rosenbaum's letter to a professor that inquired about the experience of building a Usonian house.

Here's a link to Gregor Affleck's letter in response to the same inquiry. In contrast to Rosenbaum's experience fraught with errors and omissions, Affleck's process apparently went smoothly. He refers to being fortunate in his timing not to be in conflict with the government's "priorities", presumably a reference to 1943 requisitioning of metals for the war effort. Note Affleck's Taliesin-esque personal stationary including his graphic use of his perf pattern. ... letter.pdf

Affleck mentions that his house was constructed by Harold Turner who was the contractor for other FLW houses in:
Palo Alto, CA
Long Island, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Okemos, MI
Ogden Dunes, IN
Plymouth, MI
Harold Turner is an interesting character.

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:54 am
by SDR
Yes. We've seen a couple of his own houses, here, too. One could spend a while Googling the list provided in this thread:


Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:50 am
by JChoate
I'm guessing Affleck's list of houses built by Harold Turner implies these specific houses, in addition to his own:

Palo Alto: Hanna 1936
Long Island: Rehbuhn 1937
Philadelphia: Suntop Homes 1939
Okemos, MI: Goetsch Winkler 1939
Ogden Dunes, IN: Armstrong 1939
Plymouth MI: Wall 1941

That's a nice list of important projects to have on one's resume as a Contractor. I think most surprising is the idea that the same builder that built the Hanna house also built Goetsch Winkler.
I wonder if any other FLW houses came later, in addition to the ones Affleck listed.

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:43 pm
by DRN
I recall John Sergeant's Usonian House book noting builders if known. I believe he noted the Christie House in Bernardsville, NJ as being constructed by Turner. Christie was built near the time Suntop was being completed.

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:15 pm
by SDR
In the Hannas' book, "Frank Lloyd Wright's Hanna House - the Clients' Report," pp 32-33, we find
Harold Turner being introduced to the Hannas, and thence to Mr Wright. A most satisfying begin-
ning to a fruitful association ?

The time period is late 1936.


Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 6:31 pm
by JChoate
Wow. What a good way to go about the building process -- spending time with FLW at Taliesin talking to him and watching them work. Then, visiting various projects under construction in various stages. Finally, undertaking a new project himself. He was able to handle the hexagonal grid. No small challenge for a first attempt.

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:02 pm
by SDR
The Hannas provide lots of information from which to learn how Wright saw this first very complex Usonian being built. Among other things, an offered alternate to a continuous slab (in roofed spaces): separate precast hexagons . . . !