eBay: Blueprints from unbuilt Harry Brown House

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DavidC
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eBay: Blueprints from unbuilt Harry Brown House

Post by DavidC »


outside in
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Post by outside in »

this is interesting - was the proposal to use clay tile on the exterior?

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Not much can be gleaned from published sources; here is most of what appears in Monograph 2 (pp 252-3) and in Taschen I (pp 256-7).

The Monograph contains the first floor plan and five section and elevation images, from the drawing set offered above.


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Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

No, I believe it was just concrete. It may be why the client turned it down. The first design (Mono 2/251; Tasch 1/256) has the exact same plan, but looks like a more expensive project, which may have been why it was not built. The value of the blueprints is that the archive does not have a copy of the second floor plan, which also has some details.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Pfeiffer says concrete block exterior walls, plastered partitions (and, presumably, interior surface of block walls); see above. The surprise to me is concrete slab floors on all three levels.



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clydethecat
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Post by clydethecat »

So it's an expanded variation on the Walser/Barton plan?

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Well -- no: those plans have a symmetrical, "dumbbell"- or racetrack-shaped main space, while the Brown plan, though housed in a symmetrical envelope, contains a full-depth living room on the right, and a smaller dining space on the left. Perhaps that's what you meant by "expanded" ?

The fireplace is placed a bit to the rear of the living-room volume, in an ell which is largely windowless, making a snug refuge from the larger and better-lighted part of the room. In the Usonian period, one might expect a lower ceiling in this ell; are there other Prairie-period houses which have "refuges" from the public space, with or without a change in ceiling height ?

There are lots of doors in this house: pairs of pocket doors are available to separate both the living and dining rooms from the central hall -- and there are two doors enclosing the servant's room (?) on the second floor, one on either side of a flight of three steps up from the stair landing.

SDR

pmahoney
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Brown house vs Ricker house

Post by pmahoney »

Seems very similar in organization to Griffin's Ricker house in Grinnell, Iowa of 1911.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Griffin's Ricker house, 1911:


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Wright's Brown design, 1906:


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SDR
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Post by SDR »

Mrs H E Brown design, scheme 1:

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Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Comparing Brown to either Walser/Barton or Ricker is a stretch. Brown differs from Walser/Barton in room arrangement and exterior massing. The similarity with Ricker is that the main blocks of both are rectangles.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Ah -- well, there's a bit more than that, isn't there -- if you take "organization" to mean "of form" as much as "of use" ?

Both houses are bilaterally symmetrical in principal elevation (Yes, I know: Wrightian work doesn't recognize "front" and "back". . .) and both show
bands of windows at both levels, with solid corners at one or both stories. Both have an oblong chimney positioned athwart the major axis of the plan,
at right of center. The major space runs front to back at the right end of the plan, the chimney separating this space from the rest of the first floor.

Comparing the plans, just above, reveals centered entrances -- or as near to center as possible in Griffin's case -- and a stair behind the chimney, near
center of the plan. The solid corners, visible in the frontal perspective view drawings, show even better on the first-floor plans of the respective houses.
The earlier plan (Wright's) is the looser and more abstract, the L-shaped corner walls of very different proportions, front and rear, while the later
Griffin plan is entirely quadrilaterally symmetrical, with those wonderful corner bookcases let into a continuous interior wall plane, as in the Rule
house.

The most notable difference between the two plans, however, is that Griffin takes his living-room space around the chimney, out of sight as one enters
the space, beckoning beyond -- which is what Wright did with his pioneering Fireproof House plan of 2007, and which Griffin, Drummond and others lost
little time in adopting, sometimes for their own homes. Here, a year earlier, Wright is up to something else.

The second floor plans of the two houses bear little resemblance to each other, though each demonstrates the skill necessary to fit a variety of
functions and space requirements into a symmetrical envelope, something Wright taught himself to do early on; Griffin was no less clever than any of
his contemporaries in this regard, clearly. An amusing and perhaps atypical insistence on symmetry, at Ricker, is the inclusion of what can only be a
false chimney, paired with the functional one, as can be seen in the view drawing . . .

SDR

clydethecat
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Post by clydethecat »

Was Harry Brown (the man) related to Charles A. Brown?

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Let's see -- who would know that ? Isabel Roberts ? Gene Masselink ? I know: Thomas Heinz. W A Storrer is sometimes helpful with these things -- but he doesn't deal in the unbuilt projects.

Brown is not an uncommon name . . .

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The differences between Brown and Ricker are more significant than their similarities. Given the shape of the plan and the needs of the rooms on the ground floor, there aren't a lot of options for the arrangement. A room in this corner, a room in that corner, two corners for the big room. It's more a matter of feeling one would get entering and moving through the 2 houses. Brown is as formal an arrangement as FLW devised, post 1900, almost colonial. Ricker's arrangement in plan is much looser. Access to the living room from the entrance is incidental, no grandeur at all. Ricker has a stair hall entrance; FLW encloses his stair, creating an entrance focused entirely on the flanking wide pocket doors. Ricker's living room is symmetrical and static; FLW's is offset and dynamic. Ricker's living room corners are, as was often the case in Griffin's work, closed and enclosing, while FLW's corners are fenestrated and open. The location of the Ricker dining room makes the traffic patterns different from Brown. That the solid walls of Brown continue to the roof, while the Ricker walls are truncated to allow for balconies is not an insignificant difference; the Ricker roof seems to float above it all, while Brown (scheme #1) is stolid and earthbound. Brown #2 is an improvement, but withal, Ricker is a better design.

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