For sale: Robie-esque in Palos Park, IL

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DavidC
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Location: Oak Ridge, TN

Post by DavidC »


Paul Ringstrom
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Location: Mason City, IA

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

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!).
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

loo tee
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Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:35 pm

Post by loo tee »

This rip-off of the Robie House is truly grotesque. Shame on the client, the architect, and the builder.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

What if the Robie house didn't exist. Then we could judge this residence on its own merits, if any. I suggest that this is the way to approach the subject.

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 . . .)

SDR

SDR
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Post by SDR »

What do we have here ? Too bad we don't have plan views of the property and the house.

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 . . .

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

SDR, have a glass of warm milk and go to bed.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Too late; it's morning.

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.

SDR

DRN
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Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

SDR, if you were to be a juror at a school of architecture, you would be one of the minority that thoughtfully sees and considers a design then expresses what is bad AND what is good.

JimM
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Location: Austin,Texas

Post by JimM »

I've always been a critic of Legacy's and Post-Wright Taliesin efforts mainly because more should have been expected with that pedigree.

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!

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

Post by SDR »

The brick alone -- iron spot roman brick of a very nice color -- marks this as an unusual project. I don't find the exact product on this Belden page:

http://www.beldenbrick.com/roman-brick.asp

SDR

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

Post by Roderick Grant »

I've been thinking about "Original" vs. "Fake." Setting aside the Robie almost-ran for the moment, when it comes to determining fake paintings, for instance, these days the "experts" are reduced to relying on electronic gadgetry to ascertain if the micro paint strokes of the suspect painting match those of a verifiable original, chemical analysis of the paint to ensure that it was available in the days of the real version, a convincing paper trail. Just looking at some of the fakes today isn't enough, forgers have become so skilled at imitation. So if you see two images side by side, of say Guernica, and they are indistinguishable from one another (not a likely prospect, I admit, in this particular instance), what gives one a value equal to an entire upscale suburb and the other a toss into the furnace? What is art in that case other than commerce? There are an estimated 20,000 Corot originals in museums around the world, which is equal to the number of days in the artist's entire life, a masterpiece a day! Some have to be fake. But don't expect any of the museums to admit to it.

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.

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