Article: Robie House open during 14-month rehab

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DavidC
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Location: Oak Ridge, TN

Post by DavidC »


SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

One continues to wonder if the original built-ins will be recreated. I'm thinking of the final element in the sequence of approach to the living room --
an element that Wrightians would presumably long for, as it carried out Wright's fabled "compression and release" program in this most important of
Prairie houses . . .

Image



Recreated plaster finishes I've seen -- one thinks, for instance, of the Westcott residence -- tend to overdo the dappled or variegated visual texture.
It seems to me that the planes should read as attempts at uniformity (a Wright signature ?), with the slight discontinuities appearing, correctly, as
unavoidable consequences of the coloring or texturing process, rather than intentional "distressing."

It would be unfortunate if the efforts at accuracy would have depended on one or more samples that were aberrations rather than typical examples of
the original surfaces. But I suspect that the worst results we see are simply the result of overzealousness.

Where the original surface irregularities were owing to the inevitable variations present despite the best efforts at uniformity, those variations would be
relatively few, and might appear near edges of panels, where working conditions sometimes compromise the effort at uniformity. It doesn't take much to
create the impression of hand-work. When the surface is simply dappled all over, as uniformly as possible, the result is apt to look like a face with too
much make-up: clownish.

Look at a photo of a Wright sand-plaster ceiling, uncolored. The swirled texture is the direct result of the only means available to spread and smooth
the material. It is not "an effect"; it is the inevitable texture. I recognize that Wright experimented with all kinds of visual textures on walls of Prairie-
period houses, with metallic powders, etc. Surely the intended effect was not meant to draw the eye from the forms and planes, the space-defining
elements highlighted by artfully-placed moldings.

When the surfaces draw the eye, they defeat Wright's intention -- as I see it -- of bounding space in an ambiguous way, keeping the eye moving as in a
good painting. The ceiling is formed, colored and lit so as to disguise its true dimension, as if the effect of boundless sky were the intended result. Walls
should do the same thing, colored planes which can recede behind their moldings, opening the space. Cloying and demanding visual texture to these
surfaces defeats that aim -- I believe.

SDR

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

Post by Roderick Grant »

I agree, SDR. Some paint jobs go too far. The least convincing one I have seen is in the upstairs lounge (constructed by conjoining the two front bedrooms) of the Willits House. While most of the house is very well done, that space needs a lot of work. Dana also has some overactive imagination here and there.

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

Post by SDR »

When the result starts to look like wallpaper, you know it's "not Wright" ?

SDR

outside in
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Post by outside in »

The upstairs front room of the Willits House has always been a single bedroom, never two.

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

Post by Roderick Grant »

You're right, John. It has been a few decades since I saw the upstairs. Wasn't that front room opened up to the hall and converted into a sitting room?

outside in
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Post by outside in »

yes, the previous owner (Skip Altay) did that, and the current owner elected to leave it as is.

DavidC
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Location: Oak Ridge, TN

Post by DavidC »


DavidC
Posts: 7712
Joined: Sat Sep 02, 2006 2:22 pm
Location: Oak Ridge, TN

Post by DavidC »


SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Oh, yay:

"The highlight of the restoration project is the return of Wright's signature inglenook to the living room. Removed during a time when the Robie House was used for institutional purposes, including as a dormitory and administrative
offices, the inglenook is a crucial component of the main floor's aesthetic. Its restoration brings back the Wright-envisioned low, narrow space that explodes into an expansive living room, illuminated by the tint of Wright's abstract
leaded glass windows."

SDR

DavidC
Posts: 7712
Joined: Sat Sep 02, 2006 2:22 pm
Location: Oak Ridge, TN

Post by DavidC »


DavidC
Posts: 7712
Joined: Sat Sep 02, 2006 2:22 pm
Location: Oak Ridge, TN

Post by DavidC »


DavidC
Posts: 7712
Joined: Sat Sep 02, 2006 2:22 pm
Location: Oak Ridge, TN

Post by DavidC »


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

Post by Roderick Grant »

The restoration of the bench by the fireplace is the best thing to happen to the house. Its loss destroyed the entry process to the living room.

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