Wright Chat

 
FAQ FAQ Register Register
Search Search Profile Profile
Memberlist Memberlist Log in to check your private messages Log in to check your private messages
Usergroups Usergroups Log in Log in

>> Return to SaveWright Home Page

Pyrex Tubes

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Wright Chat Forum Index -> Click Here for General Discussion Posts
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 8611

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:13 am    Post subject: Pyrex Tubes Reply with quote

One of the WOWZER!! moments of my life was when I first saw a photo of the Johnson Wax Administration Building. As with Fallingwater before, I found it hard to believe that a mere mortal could design such an extraordinary, exquisitely beautiful building, but there it was, in black and white. I took it all in, and never questioned any part of it.

As is always the case with FLW, details make the difference. It never occurred to me that the way he used the Pyrex tubing was in any way flawed ... from a design perspective, rainwater notwithstanding. But in an e-chat with SDR, he mentioned that the way the tubes are connected at their ends created an awkward interruption in the flow of the glass, that it was meant to be uninterrupted. I was surprised by this stance, and I disagree with it. Those little knobs create an irregular pattern that is an essential part of the design, and in a way relate to the use of perfs. Perhaps the Frisco Fog impairs one's ability to see clearly.

Any thoughts on this?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 16301
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ignoring the ad hominem remarks, I can support Roderick's thoughts with images showing a variety of conditions to the Pyrex tubing at Johnson Wax.

https://www.google.com/search?q=johnson+wax+building+pyrex&client=opera&hs=rp1&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj32NHbrsfdAhXHh1QKHTFkDoQQ_AUIDygC&biw=1769&bih=960

The most spectacular instance of randomly-placed joints in the tubing is perhaps the domed ceiling of the Advertising Department reception space. But
other panels of tubing display either no joints at all, or a regular pattern of joints: see the ceiling skylights of the Great Workroom.

It appears that Mr Wright took full advantage of the aesthetic possibilities of the material; there is even a mitered corner to a glass-tube partition, some-
where in the building -- see right end of seventh row of photos on the linked page.

Five good photos by Yukio Futagawa, showing these conditions, are found at the back of Monograph 5. Unfortunately I cannot present these here as
connection to my image host is inexplicably, and I hope temporarily, interrupted.

SDR
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
JimM



Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 1388

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Pyrex Tubes Reply with quote

Roderick Grant wrote:
Any thoughts on this?


There's more at play here than to consider Wright's intention, if at all possible. All we have is that which we can see. Perhaps sometimes under duress, he still did not hesitate to include steel beams or fitch plates in otherwise all-wood construction, or some other "necessity" to achieve what was brewing in his mind. Technology and available materials at the time is a logical consideration.

After experimenting with cast glass panels and other possibilities, I believe he was enamored with the tubing for both the functionality of diffusing the view of surrounding Racine while at the same time using a rather mundane product for an unconventional and creative application. The tube connectors were the most efficient, cost effective means-and yes, compromise- to achieve the more important desired result, and Wright accepted the trade-off for the vision. The achieved effect does indeed overpower the obvious interruptions, and at least one argument that they somehow are intrinsically important, intentional, or otherwise desired seems only to validate the trade-off.

The original Usonian design perhaps offers an analogy. Could Wright have offered a $5,000 house without using screws to secure his sandwich walls? Later, when possible, he avoided the visual interruption of this connection to the extent of a virtual lack of wood construction in many late Usonians. Again, an acceptable trade-off at the time... as long as the slots were all horizontal!

Had it been practical, surely uninterrupted tubing would have been preferable to Wright aesthetically. They were not a "designed in" component and according to Lipman, addressed only after manufacturing of the tubes was proven successful. There's no mention of any reason other than their need. They were not present when any span or placement did not require them, so it's safe to assume they were used simply out of necessity... Roderick's point is quite valid as far as Wright agreed they did not adversely affect his intent.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 16301
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My initial contention echoed Jim's thoughts on the subject, more or less. Yet I also like Roderick's poetic allusion to fallen leaves randomly patterning a
carefully-raked Japanese graveled garden . . .

Random effects in Wright's decorative design is extremely rare, I think we can say, unless we include fabrics waving in the breeze (flags and pennants) or
thrown casually over a parapet in a drawing. Certain unusual art-glass panels, like those at the Coonley Playhouse, exhibit random patterning unique to each
panel. The graphic design found in certain magazine-cover art, or the occasional mural (like the ones at Midway Gardens), contain free and unduplicated
patterns.

SDR
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5850
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was exceedingly rare for Wright to incorporate any design element that was placed in any way “randomly”, or off from a module. In fact, I can’t think of any other example other than this tubing. Due to the limitations of the material at hand, he must have decided to downplay that aspect by deliberately placing the connections in a random manner. If he would have “lined them up”, it certainly would have drawn more attention to the connections.

Sometimes what we find to be beautiful is the result of some sort of practical compromise, not someone’s initial intention.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 8611

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, the murals at Midway were carefully arranged according to a square grid, all of the centers of the circular elements aligning with grid intersections. There is a published drawing showing the grid, but offhand I cannot think of the source. I suspect the same order was imposed on the carpets for David Wright and Max Hoffman, and the Coonley windows. The circular elements just seem to be random, but in reality are not.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 8611

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must amend my previous statement: I found the drawing of the mural at Midway that I referred to above. It's in Mono 9, pg 170. However, it is not the simple square grid I mentioned. The vertical grid is a regular 12", but the horizontal measurements are from left to right, two 12", three 14", two 12", three 14" and two 12", with none of them relating to the boundaries of the enclosure at all. Very few of the circles are along vertical grid lines, none along horizontals, and none of them are centered at intersections. For the most part, the centers of the circles seem to have been located higgledy-piggledy, almost as if the grid was there to ensure that nothing fell into a regular pattern, a sort of planned randomness ... like the glass dome at Johnson.

When artists picketed the Guggenheim under construction, carrying placards that read, "The museum design violates the rectilinear frame of reference," FLW's response was a copy of the Midway design on which he wrote, "To Hell with the rectilinear frame of reference."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Wright Chat Forum Index -> Click Here for General Discussion Posts All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group
Protected by Anti-Spam ACP