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Ocotillo desert camp recreation
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DavidC



Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 6438
Location: Oak Ridge, TN

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DRN wrote:
Would the Navajo, who supposedly scavenged the materials after 1929...


I'm curious where might have heard/read that, Dan - since Navajo tribal lands are a couple of hundred miles northeast of Chandler?


David
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3456
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I stand corrected.
It would appear an earlier posting noted "Navajo" and it stuck in my head
http://yafh.com/image/86c89329-SteveMartin_Arrow.jpg
A later post by Rood stated the following which apparently had not stuck in my head:

Quote:
Ocatilla was built on land then owned by Dr. Chandler. The northern boundary of the Gila River Indian Reservation is across Pecos Road, over a half-mile south of the site of Ocatilla.
Also, the Native Americans living on the reservation are not Navajo, but Akimel O'Odham (Pima) and Pee-Posh (Maricopa). Congress set aside the reservation for the people of both tribes in 1859.


Many thanks.

Thoughts on the floor?


Last edited by DRN on Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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Rood



Joined: 30 Oct 2010
Posts: 983
Location: Goodyear, AZ 85338

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When Bruce Pfeiffer and I first visited the site of Ocatilla in the mid-60's, the only evidences of previous habitation left were broken pieces of concrete block scattered here and there over the top of the hill, and indications of where minimal excavation had taken place, where wooden fences and walls had been inserted into the ground.

A bit off to the north, we found what appears to have been a trash pit (marked as a hexagon on the plan), where a few broken pieces of glass were found. Finally, below the hill, near the carport, I found remains of a child's metal toy truck.

Bruce and I discussed whether or not to take bigger pieces of the concrete block back to Taliesin West, but removing them seemed almost sacrilegious, so we left everything in place. On subsequent trips that decision proved to have been a mistake, because by that time all the larger pieces had disappeared, along with the old, rusted toy truck.
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 8283

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linoleum was not necessarily glued to the floor. When my family moved into the old house that became our new home in 1944, the dining room was covered with linoleum in an array of gray ostrich plumes. It was cut to fit, but not attached. Eventually the edges started to curl, and the pintle-hinged kitchen door had to be removed and the edge of the linoleum nailed in place ... until the carpet was laid in '46.
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David



Joined: 27 Sep 2016
Posts: 117
Location: Spain

PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2017 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



The connection between the bedroom and the living room of the cabins belonging to FLLW is not very well documented in the photos I have:



This photo has no resolution and the image is confusing, difficult to know how was the structure linking both cabins. Does anyone have a more detailed picture of this corner?

In this other photo it seems that the living room is located almost two planks (about 1 or 2 feet) higher than the bedroom:



Was there a stair or ramp between them?
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David Romero
www.hookedonthepast.com
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JimM



Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 1368

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Link to an enlargement of a previously posted photo of the entry, which may help. On the left behind the flag is a short wall which folds to the left at the end. Can't tell, but it might be a gate in the open position, except when closed it would be higher than the lower section on the right. Still, if the surrounding walls were to be a defense from desert intruders, why wouldn't there be a gate as well?

http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/cdm/singleitem/collection/flwfflwa/id/68/rec/7

..... these enlargements previously posted by SDR appear to graphically indicate steps between decks/structures and at other places.

http://www.savewright.org/wright_chat/viewtopic.php?t=2477&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15
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David



Joined: 27 Sep 2016
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Location: Spain

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This really helps, thank you very much JimM, I didn't know the existence of these images with such a high resolution, it's like moving from darkness to light Smile
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David Romero
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3456
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cross referencing in a link to a post in which the Ocatilla draftsmans' names are listed:

http://savewright.org/wright_chat/viewtopic.php?p=82473#82473
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15685
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Comparing the photo(s) and David's model just above, there's one detail that I believe we're not seeing alike: below the "special" board that indicates the floor line, there appears to be a standard wall board in the photo; David places a narrower board there, it seems. Perhaps there are other photos that present a different impression ?

It appears that David prefers to maintain the rhythm of the "battens" throughout, while the photos as I read them present a stretch at the floor line that breaks (enlarges) the rhythmic spacing . . .

Does anyone know if the exterior floor-level board serves any function ? It's surprising to see any extra material in this delightful bare-bones seat-of-the-pants "kit building" . . .

Great to see this object being digitally modeled at last. The irregular site presents interesting problems, I'm sure !

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15685
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On second thought, there is plenty of "unnecessary" material here: the skirt below the floor in every structure is a matter of style rather than function, isn't it ? That skirt wouldn't keep snakes, lizards or scorpions out -- though it might discourage desert hobos from taking shelter there. Were there desert hobos there, then ? Or coyotes, wildebeests, etc ?

S
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Rood



Joined: 30 Oct 2010
Posts: 983
Location: Goodyear, AZ 85338

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SDR wrote:
On second thought, there is plenty of "unnecessary" material here: the skirt below the floor in every structure is a matter of style rather than function, isn't it ? That skirt wouldn't keep snakes, lizards or scorpions out -- though it might discourage desert hobos from taking shelter there. Were there desert hobos there, then ? Or coyotes, wildebeests, etc ? S


That's one way of looking at it, but, no, the "skirt" helped keep cold winds from getting easy access through floor boards, and, perhaps more importantly, serves to "marry" the buildings to the site. That, alone, makes them necessary. Otherwise you would have a building by someone such as Le Corbusier, and nothing would have appeared more out-of-place.

As for snakes. There is a story about someone having to shoot a rattlesnake coiled not feet from a child ... was it Iovanna?
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15685
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes. We want to be able to distinguish aesthetic necessity from functional requirement, I assume ? The issue of cold is a practical one, and I'm glad to
be reminded of it. In fact, was it Mr Wright himself who described, in the "Autobiography," the freezing cold at the hotel-room drafting table as he put
the camp down on paper, while "the boys" gathered and waited ? One imagines the stamping of feet and the puffs of exhaled air . . .

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15685
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was early January, 1927 (p 307); ". . .we all finally arrived at Chandler . . . only to find that suitable quarters in which to live and work would cost us
several thousand dollars if we took them for the rest of winter, spring and summer. And they said we couldn't live there in summer. Too hot. I knew
the heat though I had always wanted to camp in that region. Why not camp now ? Why not spend the inevitable "several thousand" on a comfortable
camp spacious enough to use not only in which to plan the building but from which it might be officered during construction ? I took this idea to Dr
Chandler and said that if he would give me a site somewhere we would build the camp ourselves.He reached for his hat, led the way to the little
gray Ford coupé which he drives around the mesa at an average of fifty miles an hour and we went over toward the Salt Range.

"Ten miles away we cam upon a low, spreading, rocky mound rising from the great desert floor -- well away from everywhere, but within view of the site of the new resort. 'How would this do ?' said he. 'This -- do you mean it -- can we have this to built on ?' I said. (Ground where I came from was hard to come by.) He nodded. 'What more could anyone ask ?' I said.

" 'But,' he suggested, 'let us go a little further over toward the hotel site, you might like that better.' 'Oh, no -- I'll take this as it is, right here.'

"It was all too good, but it was true.

"Lumber began to arrive that afternoon. Native 1x10" boards and 2x4's (unluckily undersized and very green) and two-inch battens.

"I sat down in a cold, vacant upstairs office upstairs in the little town to make the plans. The shivering boys stood around me watching, handing me the
tools. We set up the board on boxes. And it was cold. They said in Chandler "unusual" weather, but wherever I have been it has always been
"unusual" weather: "the coldest or warmest or wettest or dryest in thirty or fifty years." The scheme was soon ready. Next morning we started in to
build a camp. In fact we ate breakfast at the campsite as the frost came out of the air and a great red sun-disc rose over the sublime spectacle of desert
mountain ranges and gorgeous sky."
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15685
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"We made such progress that day that one of my boys, Donald Walker, slept that night outside on a pile of lumber, rolled up in blankets. But the next
night we had set up the first "box-bottom" of the tent tops and put cots in it for three more boys. Next day there was room for all to sleep except my
little family of three and myself. Reluctantly we went back to Mesa to the hotel. But we came back for early breakfast in that wonderful dining-room
sixty miles wide, as long and tall as the universe. We were shivering, oh yes. But we were all singing happy in that clear cold sunrise. A great
prospect ! . . .

"Out here in the great spaces obvious symmetry claims too much, I find, wearies the eye too soon and stultifies the imagination. Obvious symmetry
usually closes the episode before it begins. So for me felt there could be no obvious symmetry in any building in this great desert, none especially in this
new camp -- we later named the place Ocatillo and partly for this reason. No, there would be nothing like obvious symmetry in the new "San Marcos
in the Desert . . .

"Here in this wonderland an architect and his helpers are actually working away to build a simple camp, a camp we shall call it . . . For our purpose we
need fifteen cabins in all. Since all will be temporary we will call them ephemera. And you will soon see them like a group of gigantic butterflies
with scarlet wing spots, conforming gracefully to the crown of the outcropping of black splintered rock gently uprising from the desert floor.
This mound where Dr Chandler first took me. A human gaity in the Desert is underway.

The box-board cabins themselves are to be connected by a low staggered box-board wall with a a horizontal zig-zag -- (for the same reason Thomas
Jefferson worm-walled his brick). It will be self-supporting and complete enclosure just referred to as the "compound." Necessary openings in the
canvas-topped box buildings we will close with canvas-covered wood frames. Flaps hinged with rubber belting. No glazed doors or windows. Glass is not
for this type of desert camp if indeed glass belongs in the Desert at all.

"Now, when all these white canvas wings, like sails, are spread, the buildings -- butterfly smilie aside -- will look something like ships coming down the
mesa, rigged like ships balanced in the breeze.

''Yes, the group will look like some new kind of desert fleet. We painted the horizontal boards with cold-water paint, continuing around the
varied board wall connecting all the cabins about the mound. I chose dry rose as the color to match the light on the desert floor.
The one-two triangle we used in planning the camp is made by the mountain ranges around the site. And the one-two triangle is the cross section of the
talus at their bases. This triangle is reflected in the general forms of the cabins as well as the general plan. We will paint the canvas one-two
triangles in the eccentric gables scarlet. The one-two triangles of the ocatillo bloom itself are scarlet. This red triangular form in the treatment is why we
called the camp "Ocatillo." "Candle flame."

"I presently found that the white luminous canvas overhead and the canvas used instead of window glass afforded such agreeable diffusion of light
within, was so enjoyable and sympathetic to the desert that I now felt more than ever oppressed by the thought of the opaque solid overhead of the
much-too-heavy mid-western house."
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15685
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Meantime my draftsmen -- at this moment Heinrich Klumb, Donald, Vladimir and Cy and brave George Kastner, he was still ill, Frank Sullivan,
Will Weston and I: we made most of the camp between ourselves. We put it together with nails, screws, rubber belting for hinges; rigged up flaps with
ship cord, all designed as carefully, probably more carefully than any permanent building. Not as carefully as a ship nor so well executed, of
course, but done as well as we knew how with such technique and endurance as we had to give. Good enough. All to pass away in a year -- or
two ?

"As a matter of fact it did in less time than that. The Indians carted it all away during the winter after we had turned our backs upon it and
characteristic disaster befell the U.S.A. No, not prohibition. I mean the fall of 1929 when Architecture and architects ceased to function throughout the
U.S.A . . .

"The little camp is finished. We love it. The canvas windows and doors of Ocatillo are like ship-sails when open and may shut against dust or
may open part way to deflect the desert breezes into the interiors. Screened openings for cross ventilation are everywhere at the
floor levels,
a discovery I made in seeking coolness, to be used during the heat of the day; closed at night. The long sides of the canvas
slopes lie easily with the lines of the landscape stretching themselves wide open toward the sun in order to aid a little in warming the interiors in winter.
This long canvas roof-side is to have additional cover of canvas, air blowing between the two sheets, if the camp is ever occupied in summer. We can
add this later id we stay on in summer, and make it 'belong' . . .

"Ocatillo cost . . . about two hundred dollars per cabin. The labor was mostly our own. We are the better for that labor. We have met the Desert,
loved it and lived with it, and the Desert is ours."

(p 313)
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