Request aid completing Survey of Usonian Perforated Boards

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Palli Davis Holubar
Posts: 1036
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:14 am
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

perf ID

Post by Palli Davis Holubar »

Jim- it is the Alice & Ellis Feiman House, 1954
S.371; T.5408
Canton, OH
4’X4’ grid
Philipine mahogany
Supervisor: Allan Gelbin

In my taxonomy it is in the same category with the Louis & Ethyl Marden House, 1953
S.357 T.5220
McLean VA

Palli Davis Holubar
Posts: 1036
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:14 am
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

Post by Palli Davis Holubar »

Jim- I thought I had my disk with the MOMA Usonian drawings...but not here at home, You guess is probably right because Feiman, of course, is a rendition of the MOMA Usonian.
If any one has The SHOW TO END ALL SHOWS there is a building sheet with the drawing on it, they can check immediately. Until I see it again I can't be sure....my head is swimming in perf images. But it is logical.

How did you get a computer(?) workup of the perf that looks like that clear & percise, the 2-D design is readable. I have been doing that by hand. Palli

Palli Davis Holubar
Posts: 1036
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:14 am
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

Lamberson perforated board Taliesin Plan#1

Post by Palli Davis Holubar »

peterm- THANK YOU. The Lamberson House is not in the Monographs.
Yes, Native American imagery definately comes to mind There were, are, Navaho rugs throughout Taliesin West.
After the survey is completed (though with houses like yours popping up that are not in the Monographs it might be awhile) I will form a taxonomy that can group perfs together with design motifs and relate it all to bio material for influences etc.
My first observations about your design: there are fewer perfs that use 3 similar and repeating sections to make the one 4 foot unit. The Sunday House is another. However the shape is of the more common "arrow" motif. Our Weltzheimer House had an arrow motif on its original Taliesin plans.
Have I read this correctly: perforated boards were marked for the top elevation (northwest) & the third elevation down (northeast)?

Palli Davis Holubar
Posts: 1036
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:14 am
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

Post by Palli Davis Holubar »

No, the Fieman and Marden House perfs are not similar to the MOMA Usonian perf.

DRN
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Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

The suggestion that the perforated board patterns were influenced by Native American textiles is interesting...I had never thought of that connection...there are photos of Wright and the apprentices viewing blankets etc. for sale at Taliesin West in the late '30's or early '40's. Did the perforated boards start to appear post-occupation of Taliesin West ca. 1937-38? I don't recall them in the earliest Usonians.

My big question has been, why did he do them at all?

My only experience with the perforated boards was on sunny day tours at the Pope house. My thought when I saw the patterns cast on the walls, was that they suggested the mottled light/shadow cast by sunlight through leaves, and that Wright's pattern was an abstraction created to achieve the affect, hence the angular patterns in the very rectilinear environment of the Pope house.

I have wondered if Wright's eye for order was disturbed by the sometimes "disorderly" angles the light/shadow from clerestories cast on the very strict orthogonal rhythms of battens or masonry courses on the walls. The patterns of the boards would break the sometimes dissonant cadence of the clerestory mullion shadows such that they would not distract the eye from the rhythm of the architecture, but instead provide a neutral or non conflicting back beat or flourish as the case may be.

This discussion caused me to think about the high rectangular windows in the Sweeton house gallery which face west and are "boardless". They are shrouded with deep sloped soffits and only seem to get a slit of direct sun very late in the day for only a few minutes. The depth and slope of the soffit make it such that shadows cast by the boards if they existed, would be so fleeting that the ambient light gained throughout the day on boardless windows outweighs the benefit of the artful dance of perforated board light. I wonder if this may be a rationale for the boards being in some houses vs. others. I should note, the golden color of the late afternoon light reflected off the masonry wall onto the soffit above and into the gallery, was the most rewarding aspect of removing all those overgrown bushes that shaded the front of the house.

Palli Davis Holubar
Posts: 1036
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:14 am
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

Guggenheim Exhibition House perfs

Post by Palli Davis Holubar »

Does any one have the perf from the Guggenheim Exhibition House to see its relationship to Marden and Feiman? I'm still looking...

DRN
Posts: 3931
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

The best pictures of the Guggenheim Exhibition house that I recall are in "The Natural House". I thought the house had a cruciform pattern in the exterior brick walls with glass set between the wythes that wrapped two sides of the living room. The recent book "The Fellowship" has a pic of Wright sitting in the living room and the brick pattern is visible.

If there were boards, possibly only the clerestory windows in the gallery had them. The high clerestories in the living room were tall..almost square in elevation and did not have perforated boards. There is a pic of the exterior wall of the gallery in "The Natural House", it is the photo with a Calder mobile hanging from the soffit. Sorry I don't have access to my books right now, but possibly someone can grab either of these from their collections.

The pattern shown on the flickr CAD drawing does remind me of the perforated pattern on the Exhibition House's furniture.

Wrightgeek
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Location: Westerville, Ohio

Post by Wrightgeek »

My big question has been, why did he do them at all?
DRN-

I'll take a stab at answering your question. Keep in mind that this is only one man's opinion, and it is not based on any type of concrete evidence or scholarly research.

I've always thought of the perfs or cut-outs in the Usonians as Wright's attempt to create a less expensive version of the art glass windows from the earlier Prairie style houses.

Both types of windows provide the following benefits, albeit with slightly less dazzling effect and at a substantially lower cost for the perfs:

1. Decoration/Ornamentation

2. Privacy

3. Geometric Pattern

4. Interplay of Light and Shadows

Any comments on this theory are both encouraged and welcome.

jim
Posts: 237
Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2006 6:53 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by jim »

RE: Buehler House perforated boards. There is an excellent article on the rebuilding of the house after the fire, (by Walter Olds, the original apprentice), in the September/October issue of Preservation Magazine. While there is not a dead-on elevation of the boards, the photographer is listed as "Berger / Conser". You might try and google that and ask.

An easier source may be the craftsman who rebuilt the house - Craig Sweeney, LLC (craig@craigsweeney.com). It would be a surprise if he did not have what you are looking for.

Both Walter Olds and Maynard Buehler are dead now, but I think Katherine still lives in this beauty.
Jim

Wrightgeek
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Location: Westerville, Ohio

Post by Wrightgeek »

Palli-

I am curious to know if you intend to include the perforated block designs from the textile block houses and/or the Usonian Automatics in your survey?

One could make the argument that these perforated block designs serve much the same purpose in their use as did the wood cut-outs in the Usonians.

DRN
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Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

Wrightgeek:
I agree with all of your reasons for why the perforated boards were designed and placed, but I guess what I was reaching for in my earlier post, was why exactly did he choose those particular patterns. What did he want to achieve with the shadows cast? Do the patterns themselves have a meaning? Is there a system to their generation?

Do the patterns relate directly to the forms, patterns, or rhythms set up in the house plans, sections, elevations, or details themselves? My eye sees that they do in some cases, but not others ie: the Weltzheimer boards do, but the Pope house boards seemingly do not.

Are the patterns random abstractions with no direct correlation to the architecture? ie: pure decorative detail?

The larger question for me is why did he do the boards the way he did them.

Many thanks to Palli for starting this thread and line of study.

Wrightgeek
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Location: Westerville, Ohio

Post by Wrightgeek »

DRN-

I have heard that some of the board designs had a direction connection to the original clients, i.e. they were designed to reflect the interests, personalities, or histories of the person or persons responsible for the dwelling's creation.

Please don't ask me to recall exactly when and where I heard or read this, but for some reason I want to say that the Haynes Residence may have something to do with this notion.

DRN
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Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

A Wrightian Rorschach....I love it!

The Popes must have reminded Wright of dinosaurs.

DavidC
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Joined: Sat Sep 02, 2006 2:22 pm
Location: Oak Ridge, TN

Post by DavidC »

DRN & WG -

When my wife and I visited Samara last year, we were told the the perf board design there is a Wright abstraction of the 'winged-pine cone seed' from which the name 'Samara' derives. It also mentions this in the book about the home, "Samara: Winged Seeds of Indiana".


David

Wrightgeek
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Location: Westerville, Ohio

Post by Wrightgeek »

When I made the earlier post about the clients influence on the design of the cut-outs, I meant in a way similar to the Barnsdall project, where Wright incorporated the clients love of the hollyhock plant into the motif of the buildings.

I vaguely recall that I may have also heard or read that in at least one case, the initial or initials of a client were abstracted into the design of a perforated board.

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