"Lost" project reappears: house for Frank Wheeler

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SDR
Posts: 19606
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

"Lost" project reappears: house for Frank Wheeler

Post by SDR »

An almost complete set of seven construction documents for a Usonian residence appeared at the Heritage Auctions site. The set sold for $13,750.

https://fineart.ha.com/itm/other/frank- ... lts-012417

Here is the entry for the project, found in Taschen III:

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First, here are 12 stills made by modeler Hugo A Avila Delgado, of his digital model of the Wheeler project, as posted recently to Stan Ecklund's facebook group "Wright Sites." Mr Delgado
presumably referred to the Heritage Auctions drawings for his data . . .


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Here are 12 of the 31 screen grabs I made, of details from the Wheeler sheets.

Unusual details include, on the plan, a long and narrow workshop space
within the bedroom wing; the tapered rafter tails to the roof framing, and
the tapered planks cladding their soffits; a novel method of glazing the fixed
and the operating perf panels; and the fascia trim. The perf pattern is a
variant on that for the Carleton Wall residence.

On the site plan, the workshop space is connected to the adjacent terrace
via a series of openings, which do not appear on the floor plan drawing.


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jay
Posts: 289
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 8:04 pm

Post by jay »

Very nice. Thanks for posting this SDR.

So the flooring scheme has 4 different grade elevations inside. Looking through Storrer's book, I didn't see any single-story Usonian that had more than 2 interior grade levels....

The rendering shot #4 is particularly glorious. Nice work Mr. Delgado. Those terrace stairs really make the yard feel sociable.

Tom
Posts: 3209
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:53 pm
Location: Black Mountain, NC

Post by Tom »

Cool steel in that roof - just sayin.
Looks like the exterior shop wall was not rendered as planned.
Would like to know the detail of all those steel 'T's" at slab and roof connection.

SDR
Posts: 19606
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

There are a number of novelties in this project. But parts of the plan reflect closely the earlier (Jacobs I) and contemporary (M M Smith) houses:


Image Jacobs

Image Wheeler (Different from plans posted above)

Image Smith

Jacobs and Smith plans © 1993 by William Allin Storrer

Matt2
Posts: 243
Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:07 pm

Post by Matt2 »

I haven't seen many interior corridors in Wright's work before. I also found the steps up (and back down?) to the bedroom wing a bit unusual.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10294
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

No, Matt. There are two steps down from the living room to entry level, 2 more down to the bedroom level and another 2 down to shop level.

SDR
Posts: 19606
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Yes, there are relatively few Usonians with a double-loaded corridor. Pushing the definition to the maximum---any corridor more than twice as long as wide---they are:

Hanna (original build)
Johnson---servants' wing
Sturges
Baird
Arnold Friedman
McCartney (as fully expanded)
Sondern (as expanded)
Edwards
Reisley
Keys
Gillin (servants' wing)
Sander
Price, Jr
Christian
Tracy
Stromquist


You may be misreading the levels on the Wheeler plan; the inserted section drawings at the three stairs are helpful. I read (plan immediately above):
shop lowest; bedrooms two risers up; entry/studio level two more risers; living/dining/workspace two more, for four levels altogether. Mr Wright's clear
preference was to have these houses hug the ground, with the slab(s) poured onto a minimum of fill. An elevated floor would generally ride atop a
useful lower level, except in cases where a single floor level throughout the plan was a requirement.

S

Matt2
Posts: 243
Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:07 pm

Post by Matt2 »

Thanks for the clarification and the other references.

The find the presence of stairs in whatever form rather odd. Why bother? Why not just one level throughout?

The CG renderings are pretty amazing. Many features jump out. Fro example, a low wall of brick with boards inset above it.

Tom
Posts: 3209
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:53 pm
Location: Black Mountain, NC

Post by Tom »

Too bad we don’t have original elevations.
Exterior walls of bedrooms and the shop do not
Appear to be typical Usonian construction

SDR
Posts: 19606
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Yes, an elevation sheet is apparently still among the missing; perhaps it was too pretty a sheet for the seller to part with ? (Remember that many such
drawings as these are valued for their Wright signature alone---by some with the wherewithal to purchase them.)

But the section drawings here show interior elevations, and one can be confident that a given wall will appear the same on both faces. Unfortunately,
there are at least three versions of the house here, with variations unique to each. The plans vary, in size and shape of rooms; the section drawings do
not show the final roof fascia design; the exterior wall of the shop morphs, etc etc. Modeler Delgado---who deserves our sincere thanks--had some
choices to make in translating the Taliesin drawings; he seems to have made a consistent and worthy series of decisions ?

S

SDR
Posts: 19606
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Why not just one level throughout ? A building fitted to its site---a strong motivation on the part of the architect---will naturally follow the topography of
that site. Less material (fill, and often a masonry "plinth") will not be required. Not so obviously, the offset of floor levels can translate into a comparable
offset of roof planes, providing more room for clerestory bands without the necessity of extra interior height in the rooms so lighted.

I for one find level changes to be a rewarding addition to the spacial array in a building. Those with disabilities ("differently abled," we are encouraged
to say) may not be so pleased by these "amenities." And there are certainly exceptions to be found among Wright's later houses:


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Photo of the Hagan residence by Bill Buck


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photo of the Boswell residence by Juergen Nogai

Tom
Posts: 3209
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:53 pm
Location: Black Mountain, NC

Post by Tom »

Think I was reading the plans wrong.
Looks like the plane of the plan is cut at the perf level

SDR
Posts: 19606
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Taliesin plans can be found which are cut through the perf band, while in others the cut is through the wall below; Jacobs I represents the former, while Bazett is drawn both ways, on two different plan drawings.

I mentioned the fascia design as one of the "unusual" features at Wheeler; in fact there are a number of postwar Usonians with a version of this fascia. (Prewar Usonians with their flat roofs have plain and plumb fascia boards.)

Starting with Melvyn Maxwell Smith in 1946, the following (built) houses have the sort of fascia seen on the final Wheeler drawings---with or without the dentillated lower band. Smith and Wheeler were two of the earliest examples.

Smith
Miller
Eppstein
Levin
Edwards
Harper
Elam
Greenberg
Christian (before being covered with formed copper)
Lovness
Trier
Duey Wright
Boswell
Olfelt
Ablin

Zimmerman and Brandes have slightly modified versions of this fascia, differing in proportion or in placement of the lower portion. Of these Brandes has the dentils, Zimmerman does not.

At Harold Price, Jr this fascia is copper-clad. Teater and others have modified versions; at Teater, Hagan, Hoffman, Bott, and Stromquist the dentil band is parallel to the upper canted board, rather than plumb.

Carl Schultz has a parallel lower band decorated with a row of circles. A couple of others have a very narrow lower band, while a few more have simple one-board canted fascias.

S

DRN
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Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

Add to the list of Usonians with dentil'd fascias the Dudley Spencer house of 1956 and the NYC Usonian Exhibition House of 1953.
Some Usonians shared the same fascia profile, but the bottom band is left plain, with no dentil cuts.

SDR
Posts: 19606
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

As noted. DRN helpfully provides cuts from the Spencer detail drawings, and a photo of a removed section of the Spencer dentil molding.

For comparison, see also the Wheeler details. This type of dentillated molding doesn't required a zillion separate blocks of wood, as the
detail is milled into a continuous band. Of course, a conventional dentil detail might be managed in the same fashion.

The Spencer fascia has the canted upper board, while the Exhibition House has a plumb board above its recessed dentil band. Are there
other built examples of this last variant ? (Another study could be made, looking at all the unbuilt designs---which would include Wheeler.)


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