Donald Olsen

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Tom
Posts: 2901
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:53 pm
Location: Black Mountain, NC

Donald Olsen

Post by Tom »

William Stout's book on Donald Olsen came in the mail today.
Anathema to Wright of course but I've admired the Olsen work I've seen.
This book surprised me.
I didn't pay attention to the details when I ordered it and given the price
and cover abstract I thought I was getting a cursory gloss.
No.
The book is in medium large format, Orange cloth bound , detailed historical assessment,
color photographs, B&W photographs, huge documentaion of the drawn work, and personal correspondence.

If you like Olsen's work, this book is a steal.
I found it at Powell's

SDR
Posts: 18686
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

I discovered Olsen when I took work in Sausalito in the early 'eighties. He built several commercial projects on Bridgeway, the main drag through town. I found not International but streamlined vernacular wooden building.


https://www.sausalito.gov/Home/Componen ... =1&npage=7

Image

Image

Image

Tom
Posts: 2901
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:53 pm
Location: Black Mountain, NC

Post by Tom »

Interesting.
You can still see the remnant of the international "ribbon window"
in those buildings.
Still: big cultural power change goin' on in the 80's.

(Ps: had a friend who lived on a house boat there. Very cool place)

SDR
Posts: 18686
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Well, those might be Wright's window bands; note the rhythm of operating and fixed sash, seen often in Usonia-land. And, aren't those corner windows interesting ? Not a lot of that in Mies or Gropius . . .

Read his comment about context in the linked piece: "In doing work in Sausalito, a design should always be understated. We live in a lush, green, organic environment: the buildings should therefore be quiet and soft."

S

Tom
Posts: 2901
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:53 pm
Location: Black Mountain, NC

Post by Tom »

Well, I was looking for any kind of link with his prior work.
That’s all I could see.
Will check the link out.

SDR
Posts: 18686
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

It's interesting---gratifying, I guess---to see an architect demonstrate such flexibility in tailoring his work to the context.

I was attracted to the buildings I posted; it's rewarding to see them essentially unchanged after c. 35 years . . .

S

Matt2
Posts: 193
Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:07 pm

Post by Matt2 »

I have that book. Those pictured buildings above aren't in it and I can't imagine they are works by Olsen. Apparently he was committed to early modernism throughout his career, never wavering. So think flat roofs and stucco and Neutra style boxes in white.

SDR
Posts: 18686
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Could we possibly be looking at two Donald Olsens ?

http://www.legacy.com/EnhancedObit/Enha ... 2175&psl=1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Olsen

Yup---two different guys. The Sausalito Olsen studied under Goff in Oklahoma; the Berkeley Olsen is Harvard-trained.

S

Tom
Posts: 2901
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:53 pm
Location: Black Mountain, NC

Post by Tom »

I met the Berkeley Donald Olsen walking by his house in the early 90's
He was in the yard and showed me around:

https://crosbydoe.com/address/771-san-d ... -ca-94707/

I've been to the second Ruth house in Berkeley too.
Loved it.
Last edited by Tom on Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 9803
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

The Berkeley house is wonderful, a sort of bouillabaisse of Corbu, Mies, Rietveld, Rudolph and a hint of Wright.

SDR
Posts: 18686
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

I find the structural system as revealed on the lower level to be a bit graceless, but otherwise it's a nifty treehouse. The
details---Corbu-like deck railings, open-riser stair, porch suspended via rods w/ turnbuckles---contribute to a nautical effect.

S

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