Abandon the Grid?

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Matt
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Abandon the Grid?

Post by Matt »

Did Wright ever work without a net...ie without a grid? I that perhaps what separates work of Goff...and later Gehry...is that rejection of the module?

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

You ask a question that requires significant research. DD Martin is, as far as I know, the first instance of a published plan showing a grid, so it goes back that far. After that, they all were subject to the grid, even when it wasn't obvious, as with Taliesin. Winslow seems not to have had a grid, so it must have evolved sometime between Winslow and Martin.

Tom
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Post by Tom »

Interesting.
Would make for a nice thread here to find where the first grid is firmly established.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Monograph 2 doesn't contain gridded drawings of Martin. I wonder where those could be found.

In 1925 Wright wrote: "All the buildings I have ever built, large and small, are fabricated upon a unit system as the pile of a rug is stitched into the
warp. Thus each structure is an ordered fabric; rhythm, consistent scale of parts, and economy of construction are greatly facilitated by this simple
expedient -- a mechanical one absorbed in a final result to which it has given more consistent texture, a more tenuous quality as a whole."

This is an easy statement for Wright to make, following the Textile Block work; it doesn't in fact apply to construction in many if not most earlier
cases nor does it emphasize the unit as deriving from a planning grid. This is in fact a vital distinction, I believe. Wright's final phrase gives him room
to suppress or even ignore a unit system, as suits the occasion ?

In discussing Wright's acknowledged influences in their "Frank Lloyd Wright: between principle and form" (Laseau and Tice; Van Nostrand Reinhold,
1992) the authors take up first the Froebel kindergarten "gifts," citing Richard C MacCormac, 1968 and 1974, and then "The Grammar of
Ornament," by Owen Jones (1865), then Sullivan's method of developing (decorative) form, as illustrated in Thomas Beeby, "The Grammar of
Ornament/Ornament as Grammar" (1977).

I do not find Laseau and Tice specifying when the planning grid first appeared overtly in the work. The summer cottages for Walter Gerts,
Whitehall, MI, 1902 are drawn on very prominent 3-foot grids; in one of these plans there are interruptions of this grid, two rows in each direction
reduced to 2'-4" or 2'-6" to suit particulars of the plan. This would be reminiscent of the so-called tartan grid which appears in a number of plan
drawings in Laseau and Tice, where wider and narrower units alternate in each direction.

The authors provide four house plans with a tartan grid superimposed. They do not state that Wright drew the designs on these grids. "Wright has
employed a grid as the vehicle for translating principle into a course of action that governs his approach to creating and refining spaces. Our
analysis of the plans of the four houses [Hardy, La Miniatura, Freeman, Fallingwater] shows the influence of the tartan grid. At the most general
level the broad zones of the grid define spaces for congregation or rest, and the narrow zones define spaces for circulation. Furthermore, the broad
zones define exterior extensions of space, and the narrow zones define residual or transitional spaces, such as storage or roof eaves, that is,
transitions between inside and outside space. Although the tartan grid appears to provide a strong foundation for generating designs, Wright does
not allow his plans to become slaves of the grid. The ordering potential of the grid is always balanced by the search for dynamic experiences of space
in harmony with the site."

There is a danger here of conflating the regular unit grid with these looser tartan planning grids. It would probably be impossible to prove that the
latter were in fact employed consciously by the architect.



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Last edited by SDR on Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:51 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Matt
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Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:24 am

Post by Matt »

Thumbing through the Companion, it seems the only break from a grid in the later decades is with the hemicycle houses. Fitting as my thoughts on grid-ness were sparked by recent reading of the book on Howe, who designed some terrific lozenge shapes.

Grids do provide order and rhythm, but they can also be a crutch in the wrong hands. Likewise tossing the grid out can result in some pretty sloppy compositions.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Note that the hemicycles are drawn on a radial grid. Grids can take other forms than orthogonal -- as in the 30-60 Usonian plans.

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The so-called Tartan Grids (a term Geiger rejected) are different from the grids that FLW used. Tartans break down the relationship between major and minor spaces according to Laseau & Tice, and each building would have its own tartan. The diagram of Willits, image #1.1 in their book, is not a convincing breakdown of the plan, though it does imply that there was a square grid at work on that house. I would bet the grid began in earnest with the Ladies Home Journal Projects, even though they are not superimposed on the published versions.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

SDR, Martin has a grid in the Architectural Record article of the 1920s.

Matt, even the lozenge-shaped plans adhere to a grid of sorts, two, actually, with individual center points along the line of symmetry, each with equal radii, as seen in the Llewellyn Wright House.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Quite. These are about as convincing as the "regulating lines" promoted by Jonathan Hale in "The Old Way of Seeing." But they make pretty patterns . . .


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I would love to see drawings of Martin or of Taliesin showing a planning grid. Wright's grids become clear in the Usoninan-period plan and elevation drawings, where they often take the form of numbered (lettered) parallel lines running across the sheet.

Drawing sheets for the Dorothy Martin Foster house for Buffalo, 1921-3, are given a prominent "waltz-time" grid extending horizontally and vertically on elevation and plans alike.


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Tom
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Post by Tom »

Never heard of Laseau and Tice.
They do make pretty patterns though.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

https://www.amazon.com/Frank-Lloyd-Wrig ... 0471288837

Look into "The Grammar of Ornament," by Owen Jones (1865). Wright spent hours tracing the patterns he found in this book, which fortunately for him (and us) presented a very sympatico system of form analysis and generation, based on geometric patterns and systematic elaboration of same.

SDR
Last edited by SDR on Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tom
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Location: Black Mountain, NC

Post by Tom »

Never heard of that either ...dayum!
thanks

Matt
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Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:24 am

Post by Matt »

Some hemicycles have that radial or fanning (?) grid, but others just have a square module with the curved wall drawn across them. It's obvious that Wright preferred the organizing frame a grid provides. It is interesting to consider what he would have done without one.

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

Post by SDR »

I suspect he would have felt "all at sea." It's very comforting and encouraging to have the sheet of paper suggest where to put a line -- here, or here, but not at some random point in-between -- at least for starters. Both the process and the result will present the advantage of employing a grid, visible or invisible.

Yes, there are curved plans drawn on square, rectangular or even triangular grids, and angular plans on orthogonal grids. No rule existed which couldn't be broken. One is comfortable breaking rules which one has imposed in the first place . . .

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The prime example of a square grid with a curved window wall is Laurent. Winn is a lesser version of the same house. In those designs, the curved window wall is basically a solar collector, but it also serves circulation and affects the placement of the rooms defined by the square grid.

FLW went off the grid many times. Bulbulian keeps the square grid, but the living room goes of at an angle, while Edwards' and Neils' living rooms get their own orthogonal grid. Then there's Lamberson, with its square grids taking off here and there, with hex-mod terminals. FLW seemed willing to distort all his rules commission by commission. Nevertheless, there is always a grid.

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