EFFECTIVE 14 Nov. 2012 PRIVATE MESSAGING HAS BEEN RE-ENABLED. IF YOU RECEIVE A SUSPICIOUS DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS AND PLEASE REPORT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION.
This is the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy's Message Board. Wright enthusiasts can post questions and comments, and other people visiting the site can respond.
You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, *-oriented or any other material that may violate any applicable laws. Doing so may lead to you being immediately and permanently banned (and your service provider being informed). The IP address of all posts is recorded to aid in enforcing these conditions. You agree that the webmaster, administrator and moderators of this forum have the right to remove, edit, move or close any topic at any time they see fit.
I have been in this house and it is an impressive house in a very nice SW suburb of Chicago on a large lot, but it is NOT A REPLICA of the Robie House.
...and as usually not all the furniture meets our expectations (so what!).
Let's assume that the architect is at least competent and perhaps something more. He would take the job with the instruction to make a version of a famous building. Knowing that an actual replica was out of the question, if only for reasons having to do with budget, he would have a number of decisions to make. He might or might not be embarrassed to be aping a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece -- let's give him credit for something more than the regrettable motives attributable to the client -- but he wouldn't have the job at all if he refused the assignment on principle.
So now he has to do something he can at least be satisfied with. Left to his own he might not have attempted a copy of the ceiling, right down to the molding -- even if the light fixtures were out of the question -- but they were (let's say) a requirement. I'm disappointed only to find that the designer couldn't find a way to maintain the steady rhythm of those moldings, breaking the stride at one place. (The only thing worse there, as I see it, would be a bay that was too narrow, rather than one too wide . . .)
It appears that one enters the property through a buff roman-brick gate, on brick-colored small-unit paving, the house appearing above and to the left. The drive splits, with garage access ahead on a broad parking drive, and passenger drop-off uphill to the left. Visitors approach by easy stages toward the middle level of the home; from a dark foyer they ascend to the the main-level space, on a long axis amply expressed on the exterior. As at Robie this space runs the length of the house, with prow-shaped terminations at each end. Beyond the dining room is a private yard overlooking the front garden and lower drive.
A stair to the upper level is behind the chimney but separated by a partition from the dining room. Kitchen is on the opposite side of the shotgun hallway across which one stepped to enter the living room. The kitchen's open end, off this hall, is discreetly centered on the chimney/stair mass; at its opposite end a generous window seat overlooks the rear lawn. So far a comfortable, even an efficient, layout ?
Outside, the bedroom promontory on the top floor front is poorly scaled or placed. The garage elevation is not well integrated into the principal facade, but one doesn't see it when arriving; I assume it was designed accordingly. Construction and finish seem at least adequate; oak and mahogany millwork are visible downstairs, while the bedrooms are ringed above the windows with a molding matching the window casing. Furnishings in the photos should probably be ignored. Kitchen cabinetry is more Lake Delavan than Palos Park ? I can't make out the material of the decorative glazing . . .
Just trying to describe what's there, looking at the property for what it is, rather than for what it isn't. Any object deserves that much. This isn't to be construed as an endorsement . . .
The young realtor in the video says the house is an "exact replica"; the writer of the print piece directly contradicts that statement -- for what that's worth.
That said, considering the work, client requests, and budgets in my universe, I'd be a fool to turn away the "Robie" client. I can only dream of working with such resources....and would easily rationalize my hypocrisy even more if I could talk him into Taliesin 1 instead!
With architecture it becomes even more problematic, since many buildings have no rigidly defined set of documents determining who did what. If you have two G/W Houses side by side that are indistinguishable from one another, what gives one a higher value than the other? Should the details throughout a house be examined to determine if they were done by FLW, WBG, RMS, the contractor, an inspired carpenter, a subsequent owner? If the "fake" detail looks FLW-enough, will it pass muster? We had that problem with the decorative detail on the Hollyhock living room furniture; we know FLW did not produce a drawing of it, and its configuration is not something one would expect from him, but it was an essential part of the design (only a simple Greek key in one blueprint from Himself), so we found as clear a photographic image as could be dug up from the LA Times archive, and Jim Ipekjian reproduced it. Not original FLW, but close enough.
If you show up on "Antiques Roadshow" with an 18th century highboy that has been refinished to look as it did 250 years ago, rather than the grungy thing it had become, Leigh Keno will drop the value from a quarter of a million to about 30 grand. Since that's the punch line of every critique, it counts as a huge failure ... not artistic, but financial.
I would conclude that imitation is usually a failure, but if close enough to please the buyer to hang on his wall or to live in it, it's good enough, as long as you don't try to pull the wool over Leigh Keno's eyes. Emulation is closer than imitation to flattery.