Rose and Gertrude Pauson house

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SDR
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Post by SDR »

Certainly there would be pleasure in reinventing nature -- including the nature, the given geometries, the usual practices of the building arts, down to the
smallest detail. How else to convince yourself that you've overcome the Ordinary, in favor of the Divine ?

Yeah, I could see that . . . The rest of the architectural world might dismiss such self-indulgence -- but who are they, anyway ?

If that's what it takes to be Wright and Company, so be it. We can be happy, and relieved, that Mr Wright used the power of his divinity for good . . . !

SDR

Tom
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Post by Tom »

Because I do not know much about working wood, I could not tell anything from the details of the joinery.
You seemed to imply ( I cannot be sure) that those joinery details went beyond what was neccessary for the lozenged mullion.

Tom
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Post by Tom »

SDR: I'm wondering about the joinery details.
Do you think they are drawn by someone who really knows about woodworking
- or -
are they drawn by an architect who is simply making things up?
Would a carpenter actually follow those details
- or -
work the details as he knows best?

Tom
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Post by Tom »

... and what is more:
seemingly ... in the US ... look where expense is thrown about today -
not in scales of intimacy
and the intricate molding of space
but in grandiose scales and flat details

what did Wright say about some client"
...he knew the price of everything and the meaning of nothing
....?

Reminds me of what Norris Kelly Smith said about Wright:
" overpraised and underestimated"

... a farm boy from the way out sticks of rural Wisconsin
amazing
Last edited by Tom on Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Those are all good questions, ones that I think are pertinent to the case.

Died-in-the-wool Wrightians will want to believe that there are good reasons for each and every decision that manifests itself on those thousands of
drawings -- or that the inquiry is irrelevant: the Master was a genius, and that's all that needs to be said.

Those who have dealt intimately with Wright's houses, tearing into them to save them, replacing failed members or correcting other kinds of decay in
the act of restoration, will have insight into the issue. Proof if it exists will be easy to find for the proposition that Wright's lovingly-produced detail was
just begging to be ignored by the contractor.

Any carpenter will tell you that boards with orthogonal edges -- those ripped on a table saw with the blade at 90º -- are the preferable building material
from the point of view of efficient on-site manufacture of accurately-made parts. Because much wood that arrives at a building site will not be perfectly
straight, flat, and true, the cutting of bevels (for instance) will be compromised; the more extreme the angle, the greater the risk of unsatisfactory
product -- or worse. Worker safety becomes an issue, at some point.

On the drawing in WJS's post titled "Dining Room, Kitchen, and Servant's Bedroom Window Details, the upper-right figure marked "head" includes, at
its center, a board with a 60º bevel. This cut must be accomplished by running the board through the table saw on edge, held vertically against the
fence. Such cuts are made much easier if there's a flat of at least an eighth of an inch -- and preferably more -- at the point.

Does the detailer know this ? Does Wright ? Was there discussion of such practical issues in the drafting room ?

Of course, its possible that the drawings are intended to show only the desired forms, with the carpenter left to substitute preferable construction
detail on-site. In any event, that is likely what happened, again and again.

The cited detail has the benefit of presenting the fewest visible joints to the observer, and might be justified as being easier to nail together. Can the
same be said of the adjacent join, immediately to the left of the one mentioned ?

In the section below, showing a window sill, the parallelogram-shaped sill member seems devised to present geometrically ideal form -- which no
observer of the built structure could possibly appreciate -- while presenting the carpenter with a number of unnecessary challenges. There is no tool
to be found on any construction site that would produce the triangular notch seen in one of these sections -- for instance.

What exactly is the point of all of this ? Why draw something that will be laughed at and ignored on site ?

The Usonian drawings are, as a group, really beautiful documents -- works of art, in fact -- while again and again they expose an intriguing point of
view about the art of construction.

SDR

Matt
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Post by Matt »

Wright's process has a fractal quality in which a guiding module is utilized at every level of detail. That gives a unifying look but it can also be a bit obsessive in its application. I also think that Wright didn't really care much about making his designs convenient to build. He designed and didn't care how the builders would suffer. I think all of his window details are way to fussy. If I were building a Wright design today I'd use factory made windows that match the look of the design...without all the fussy joinery.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Thank you. I wouldn't go that far, myself; the Erdman houses with factory windows suffer, in my opinion, for that compromise. And I support Wright's
search for ideal form -- at any level of detail.

It's just the seemingly perverse choice, again and again, to reinvent the wheel in ways that directly impact the budget, and the sanity of the maker, that
vexes and amuses me. I'm sure there are many examples of more orthodox detailing, throughout the work.

SDR

Tom
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Post by Tom »

Also helpful to remember is that when Wright was building most all windows were site built.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Are you sure ? I would have thought that, other than large fixed-glass windows, most sash would have been made in specialty shops -- or at least
the contractor's own shop -- rather than on-site. Cope-and-stick sash joinery relies on one or more stationary shapers with dedicated cutters, and
the double-hung sash window requires other special parts, like the jambs with cut-in doors to access the sash weights. Close-fitting work, and
especially repeated operations producing identical parts, is always more efficiently accomplished in well-equipped workshops.

(That said, I've seen some pretty funky sash-weight ports, which might have been made with minimal equipment . . .)

Here in San Francisco, a local outfit, Ocean Sash and Door, has been in operation since 1880. And West Coast manufacturers would likely be found
to trail their eastern counterparts, chronologically, I expect.

Let me know what your experience has been in this area; I'm always interested to learn of regional practice and its history.

SDR

Tom
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Post by Tom »

Well now that you call me on this I realize I'm not sure about that at all.
It's a thought I can't remember the origin of and one in which
I've just assumed was true.

Ocean Sash and Door .. that's remarkable, 1880.
Wow

Reidy
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Post by Reidy »

Freeman has a door which, the restorers figure, must have been made offsite. In the second and fourth photos, the mullions in the door to the right of the corner window don't align with the mullions in the window itself.

The door has a wooden frame, whereas the windows are glass all the way to the floor. Presumably Wright's intention was that all the mullions should line up. This meant that the bottom pane, in order to leave room for the door frame, would not be the same size as the ones above it. Apparently the carpenter figured the drawing was wrong and corrected it, as he wouldn't have done if he'd seen the adjacent windows.

The door would have led to a second-floor terrace. The Freemans left it out, so it's a sheer drop to the ground.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Reidy, the 16"-wide glass doors on the east and west sides of the room were never intended to lead to terraces, but were always hanging in midair. Only the double doors on the south side led down two blocks to a small terrace over the closets.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Hanna is another house in which the muntin pattern in the French doors aligns with the vertical module, resulting -- because of the wide bottom rail of the doors --
in a smaller pane to the first unit up from the slab . . .


Image

Tom
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Post by Tom »

All the sash and door here was site built no doubt
and still in the days when material was more expensive than labor

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Actually, the sash was ordered, and didn't come before the plate glass arrived, a few pieces of which didn't fit. Pages 44 and 60 of the Hanna's book.

The Hannas contracted their house, doing as much work themselves as they could. They had seven "cabinetmakers" (carpenters selected by trial and error
over a four-week period) who stayed with them for the remainder of 1937, as the house was constructed. But the sash was made off-site . . .

SDR

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