Article: Kraus House - Ebsworth Park, MO

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DavidC
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Article: Kraus House - Ebsworth Park, MO

Post by DavidC »


SDR
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Post by SDR »

"master mason Dave Bergmann, who replaced 40 percent of the home’s brick"

Good lord. I had no idea. Why would that have been necessary ? Is that a journalist's error ?


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SREcklund
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Post by SREcklund »

SDR wrote:"master mason Dave Bergmann, who replaced 40 percent of the home’s brick"

Good lord. I had no idea. Why would that have been necessary ? Is that a journalist's error ?


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Repointed, maybe ...
Docent, Hollyhock House - Hollywood, CA
Humble student of the Master

"Youth is a circumstance you can't do anything about. The trick is to grow up without getting old." - Frank Lloyd Wright

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Sounds right to me. Who knows ?

SDR

lang
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Post by lang »

A quick glance at the photos shows that a lot of the brick work is exposed to the elements. I would imagine that water would degrade the mortar over a period of years.

Tom
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Post by Tom »

Eifler was the restoration architect according to the article.
Too bad we haven't heard from him in awhile.

pharding
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Post by pharding »

If the 40% number, which I doubt very much, is true, it would be due to poor maintenance. Today's masonry technology, if properly detailed and built, would reduce maintenance costs.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

Kelly Johnston
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Post by Kelly Johnston »

Jane Hession's 2015 book on the Kraus house includes a chapter on the restoration that describes water infiltration through the original rowlock cap as the primary reason why 40% of the brick in the house were replaced.
Kelly Johnston
Bachman Wilson House Guide

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Thank you, Kelly Johnston -- that's valuable information. Thanks for coming aboard to pass it on. (We'll be asking you for insights gained from your stated occupation, you may be sure ! But that can wait . . .)

We come across more and more instances of the moisture-infiltration problem. I wish we had the input of lapsed poster Laurie Virr, a dedicated Usonian architect from Down Under who has passed on to us brick-work insights in the past. One wants to ask: is a brick wall inherently vulnerable without flashing of some sort at, or near, its top surface ?

A Usonian was restored/rebuilt not long ago, with an almost ridiculously prominent through-wall flashing inserted beneath the cap course. Was this moisture issue always a problem with brick walls ? Seems counter-intuitive, somehow . . .

At Kraus, can we assume that bricks from the house were saved and re-used ? It can be very difficult to precisely duplicate 65-year-old brick with new material.

SDR

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

The main problem with water getting into masonry like that if it freezes the ice expands. Since masonry and mortar don't have much strength in tension they fracture. It's called "freeze/thaw". It's usually a bigger problem on horizontal surfaces like where floor pavers come loose or the mortar joints pop out.

Top of wall coping is important for keeping water out of the cavity behind brick veneer because if it gets in there it's well on its way to getting inside the rest of the wall construction where it can cause all sorts of trouble. Coping doesn't have to be metal. It could be masonry (like cut or cast stone) but mortar joints are vulnerable and are better if flexible sealants are used. The idea with masonry veneer walls systems is to redirect moisture back out of the cavity via weep holes at the bottom of the wall. It is a risky move to use only a brick rowlock at the top of a wall because bricks absorb moister and all those mortar joints are even more porous.

I think the freeze/thaw problem is more of a worry the farther north you go. The farther south you go it becomes more of a danger for growing mold, rotting any adjacent wood, corroding metals and yucky stuff like that.

I hate that ungainly solution I've seen in places where the band-aid of metal cap flashing being sandwiched underneath masonry coping (which at that point is just window dressing). It's a path-of-least-resistance functional solution without thought of appearance. There are other ways to get it done with more finesse. If that bulky metal underbelly flashing solution is the best you can do, then you need to go back to the drawing board.

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

As a mea culpa pertaining to my previous comments about metal flashing, I'll ask SDR to post a photo of an illustrative installation that occurred in my office's work, an oversight by one of the project architects no longer with us.

No pun intended, but slipping thru the cracks was a waterproofing consultant's detail where he specified metal flashing underneath new cut stone coping where we were already sealing the joints with sealant rather than mortar. In my opinion, this was belt & suspenders. The egregious part of the detail was that the exposed vertical face of the shiny silver metal extended several inches down the wall underneath the stone coping. Looking at it made my teeth hurt. It made the cut stone coping on top look dishonest.

I don't object to a flashing installation underneath masonry coping if it is subtle, but I think it's a visual flaw if the metal has a big vertical face exposed rather than a careful & discreet little peek-a-boo.

peterm
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Post by peterm »

I believe this must be the "almost ridiculously prominent through-wall flashing" that SDR refers to. After completion, the exposed lip of the stainless steel flashing was painted brick color to help camouflage it. This was architect John Eifler's recommendation for our exposed terrace wall. When one goes to the trouble of replacing something that historically has failed (not just at our Lamberson, but nearly every northern climate Usonian with a similar condition...) it makes sense to protect the wall. It's easy to tuck point the rowlock, but to replace the entire wall? That's something one wants to do once in a lifetime!
SDR wrote:

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SDR
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Post by SDR »

Architect J Choate finds nothing objectionable re the Lamberson flashing. On the other hand he is mightily embarrassed by this flashing job which issued from
his office a while back . . .

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Last edited by SDR on Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

Peter, Your installation looks like it was carefully done by a craftsman. I like the move of painting red over the silver. I don't think I'd notice it if it weren't pointed out.
The example I hate, done by my office (on a renovation project of a historically significant neo-classical building) called attention to itself for the cheapness of the material, the sloppiness of the work, and the ilogic of exposing 3" of metal flashing under perfectly good, brand new stone coping.
The quality of your house is one part artistic design (by the Master), but also the fact that it appears to be in immaculate condition. With a 50+ yr old cutting edge design that requires quite a commitment to restoration skill.

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

SDR, thanks for posting my embarrassing photo.
Peter, it serves as an indicator of how competent your installation is.

I think the cornucopia left to us by FLW (and his apprentices) of artisitic creations meeting real-world conditions generates a never ending challenge to maintain the aesthetic vision while fixing the boo boos.
Repeating one of my favorite FLW client quotes: "It's what happens when you leave a work of art out in the rain."

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