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Tom
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Post by Tom »

The solid screen wall that divides the entry from the living room in Baird seems unique.
Where else has Wright done something similar?

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

I took a look at Bing Maps angled aerials. Unfortunately, there's not a very sharp image of Baird, but you can see from this angle that whatever the workshop (+ garage?) currently is, it has a different (white) roof material than the house. This suggests the possibility of a subsequent renovation/addition which was significant enough to require a new roofing system. It also suggests that it was recent enough to involve something like a latter day T.P.O. single ply membrane (not common until the last couple of decades).

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JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

here are some photos of Baird by Alan Weintraub in "The Houses" taken in 2005:

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Tom
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Post by Tom »

The solid wood screen wall reminds me a little of the layout of the early entry into Taliesin in Spring Green.
I can't think of any example where Wright leads one so directly and literally into a wall like this.
It's great but I almost want to say hey Frank you can't do that it's against your rules.
He's really ramping up "compression/release" there.
It's a beautiful wall.
The only diagonal besides slanting light.

... interesting how Wright's entry doors are usually solid.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

This is one of those entirely-wood-and-masonry interiors which look ancient, to me . . . especially in black and white. Two Futagtawa photos:


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Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

I've been reading the murky image wrong. The object that looks like an added garage is actually the original carport, and what I was assuming to be a parking area in front of it is the living room/sanctum end of the house. So nothing has been altered.

In the words of the ineffable Roseanne Rosannadanna, "Never mind."

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

SDR,
I like how you wrote:
This is one of those entirely-wood-and-masonry interiors which look ancient, to me
To me, there's a quality in these 1939-plus-a-few-years Usonians that is "timeless" in a way that the houses that came later are less so. Perhaps its because of the tight & limited palette, but also the simplified geometry. It was like a period of systematizing and editing that generated this body of work that was of a piece.

And, to think of the historical context, as both FLW and the country were trying to shake off the Depression, these were acts of timely restraint.

When you think about the wood/brick/red concrete palette, you have a range of textures from rough (brick) to subtle (wood) to smooth (polished concrete). The color range is a variation of tones, all warm. Interestingly, when you move from color to black & white photos, the harmony of close hue colors is replaced by a well-balanced range of tones, all pretty close together but with just enough contrast to render the forms. In such a condition, shadows become profound.

One thing I enjoy in the photos (and the buildings) is the way light reflects in the sheen on the concrete floor and the wood paneling, but not the brick. I'm sure there's some sort of analogy that could be drawn from the tones of different instruments playing in the same symphony (a la FLW's analogy of music as architecture and vice versa). In the case of these 1940 Usonians, it would be a small stringed quartet.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Yes. I like your notice of the similar tonal value to the materials. For me, it's not hard to imagine these simple and "dark" houses -- lighter when the wood was new -- rendered in rough-sawn material, with -- what -- exposed-aggregate or crushed-rock floors -- or the coarse-textured brick I see on our streets, here. (Can you thatch a flat roof ?) The rustic work we looked at recently -- Lake Delavan; Darby; Banff -- is a reference . . .

SDR

SDR
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Post by SDR »

To wit: a quick neighborhood stroll.


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Imagine it before painting . . .


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Julia Morgan


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The mauve mortar is interesting.


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. . . and, our old pal, lapped composition "brick."


SDR

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

The palette you describe might be a shades of yellow version of the FLW shades of red/orange/brown. A lighter, brighter variant. And, similarly a range of textures.

I once or twice did a version of what you describe in mod houses with Usonian DNA. Thinking about it, however, my palettes weren't so reduced and disciplined. I have a thing for rift cut or quarter sawn white oak which gave warm lightness, but I opted to add in some wenge or walnut for contrast, on top of western red cedar exteriors. In light of the lesson of these timeless real Usonians, perhaps less would've been more.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

What I think of as the most conventional or universal aspects of Wright's design signature are these: a reduction in variety of form and of hue, repetition of identical elements, a consistency of detail. These elementary rules or habits are the marks of a superior designer in any medium; not the least of these is architecture.

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

This goes to the natural stages of design from lyric to rococo baroque, as well as their counterparts in music and painting. It always starts out simple and basic, then gradually evolves into more complex forms, until it is finally overwhelmed by egregious fanciness and vulgar decoration. FLW tried his entire career to avoid the endgame, not entirely successfully. This is why I have always found the first scheme for the Harry Adams House so objectionable, not to mention Bulbulian and some of the overwrought manifestations of the Jester template.

Taliesin I was a huge breath of fresh (Italian) air after the Prairie era had run its course, but it took years of continual reinvention for FLW to find the Usonian path.

SDR, love the brick photos, especially the fifth image. Brick, generally, should not be painted, but it can work once a certain percentage of the paint has fallen away, and the brick takes on a tattered look.* But the "lapped composition brick" is worse than faux brick on tar paper.

* Not germane to subject at hand, but I love FLW's description of eucalyptus trees as "tall, tattered ladies." I suppose that's not a PC description, but an interesting image at least, calling to my mind Martita Hunt's portrayal of Miss Havisham in the 1946 film of "Great Expectations."

SDR
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Post by SDR »

More of the Julia Morgan building at 300 Page St:

http://blogs.sfzc.org/blog/2012/09/25/h ... ge-street/

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The simple routed decoration to the window frames speaks both of the past and of the post-industrial age, c. 1922. The soft-edged brick seem almost river-washed . . .

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Pre-earthquake San Francisco is filled with (covered by ?) this simple lapped "novelty siding." Poor-man's sunk batten ? Best with mitered corners . . .


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Image Cast "terrazzo" steps and trim; lumpy concrete "stonework"


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SDR
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Post by SDR »

As it happens, I brought home a book from the library this week. British historian Robert Harbison, at the beginning of a chapter on Mannerism (2009), writes:

"There's a version of the progress of art, and of culture in general, modeled on the life of creatures, which begins with childish clumsiness and goes through phases of youthful vigor, followed by healthy maturity, leading to decline into effete and decadent stages, and on to extinction and perhaps even a drawn-out aftermath like putrefaction.

"The earliest version of the sequence in Western art is the development from fifth-century Athenian purity to Hellenistic overscaled bombast. The pattern is repeated in Roman history in the transition from Republic to Empire, and later appears in the development from Romanesque to Gothic (early, high,late), ending with Flamboyant or Perpendicular etiolation. In some accounts of the next phase the shift from Renaissance to Mannerism is the whole story. In others the sequence continues from bad (Mannerism) to worse (Baroque) to the nadir of empty triviality (Rococo)."

Nevertheless, the author's exploration of Baroque and Rococo church architecture uncovers interesting geometries and lighting effects, including certain inside/outside illusions; complex domes with hidden windows, above gilded pastel ceiling decoration bursting into three dimensions -- an acid-fueled illusion from a Moody Blues album cover, the mystery and wonder of heaven made tangible. Gaudi, on the other hand, is touched upon in the context of Historicism and a quasi-Byzantine cathedral design by Lethaby, for Liverpool . . .

Wright is first mentioned only after the author has explored Mies and the Brick County House, as if the one didn't depend greatly on the other. Wright is apparently still a mystery in some parts.

SDR

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »

Bringing the First Usonian thread back post-crash.


David

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