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Seeking Comment on the 1997 LIFE Dream House
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SWSinDC
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 1:36 pm    Post subject: Seeking Comment on the 1997 LIFE Dream House Reply with quote

Fully aware that Taliesin Architects finds little fanbase here, I nonetheless have to ask what is thought of the 1997 LIFE Dream House which John Rattenbury and the TAs designed. Is it a fair evocation of the Usonian concept? What would you change? And is it truly buildable for the prices suggested by LIFE? Thank you in advance for your comments.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:14 pm    Post subject: 1997 Dream House Reply with quote

The Usonian concept is exercised under the theory of Organic Architecture, which requires that a client and building site are selected, and then the house is designed according to the specific needs of both. Hopefully, when completed it is a beautiful expression of these needs. The Dream House is already designed, looking for a client and site.



The Dream House appears to be very comfortable, spacious, and in line with modern lifestyle. It can be sited in many places and compass orientations, especially with its clerestory windows, and has some regional exterior style choices. It has the major living spaces combined, like the Usonians, with bedrooms attached. It feels too modular, but this makes it adaptable. It is of a larger scale vertically and in square footage than a Usonian would be, and is quite dependent on interior decoration for success. An easy-to-live-in American house, but completely lacking the unique character of a Usonian. That was really not its purpose.



I would think that building costs are outdated.



Doug Kottum, Battle Lake, MN
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pharding



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
Posts: 2248
Location: River Forest, Illinois

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Seeking Comment on the 1997 LIFE Dream House Reply with quote

SWSinDC wrote:
Is it a fair evocation of the Usonian concept?


No it is not. FLW in 1953 said that the Alice Millard House in Pasadena was the first Usonian House. Others might say that Jacobs I was the first Usonian. These two great buildings and many of the Usonians that followed were wonderful, tight compact houses and inspired works of architecture that went far beyond ordinary shelter. They took advantage of views and the solar orientation. They were well crafted with natural materials.

SWSinDC wrote:
What would you change?


I would just start over and ask each client to write down his/her vision and tell me what they each enjoy. I would need to know the site. I would seek realize their vision in a design that built upon the principles of the Usonian Houses.

SWSinDC wrote:
And is it truly buildable for the prices suggested by LIFE?


Those prices were probably optimistic in 1997. Plus they left out site costs, a contingency for inevitable change orders, and various miscelleneous costs. Assuming normal contruction inflation for eight years probably adds 37 to 42% to the cost.
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Paul Harding FAIA Owner and Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, the First Prairie School House in Chicago | www.harding.com | LinkedIn
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SWSinDC
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 11:51 am    Post subject: 1997 LIFE Dream House Reply with quote

Judging from the above comments, and the views expressed in the many threads on this site, it appears to be the majority opinion that, if one wishes to live in a Frank Lloyd Wright home or one which is true to his vision, his/her options are:



1. Purchase a home that was designed by Wright and, if not already done, restore it to its original condition; or



2. Failing that, hire the architect who can most closely incorporate Wright's vision into a new home.



The alternatives--utilizing an unbuilt Wright design, hiring a Taliesin Architect, building a "model" Wright-inspired home, etc.--apparently pale in comparison to the foregoing and/or are outright unacceptable.



Would you agree? Have I missed any options?



Again, my thanks in advance for your views.
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pharding



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
Posts: 2248
Location: River Forest, Illinois

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SWSinDC wrote:
Judging from the above comments, and the views expressed in the many threads on this site, it appears to be the majority opinion that, if one wishes to live in a Frank Lloyd Wright home or one which is true to his vision, his/her options are:



1. Purchase a home that was designed by Wright and, if not already done, restore it to its original condition; or



2. Failing that, hire the architect who can most closely incorporate Wright's vision into a new home.



The alternatives--utilizing an unbuilt Wright design, hiring a Taliesin Architect, building a "model" Wright-inspired home, etc.--apparently pale in comparison to the foregoing and/or are outright unacceptable.



Would you agree? Have I missed any options?



Again, my thanks in advance for your views.




In my opinion, the above is true. I do not claim to be speaking for a majority opinion on this board. However I believe that if you went outside of this board and surveyed architects and architects with a background in historic preservation that the vast majority would concur.
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Paul Harding FAIA Owner and Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, the First Prairie School House in Chicago | www.harding.com | LinkedIn
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JimM



Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 1481

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pharding was spot on. It was readily apparent the LDH was simply a spec house to accomodate contemporary tastes. Taliesin has made their way accomodating those willing to pay the price and seeking "the next best thing" to a Wright house (or what was perceived to be, anyway!).



Any one at all familiar with FLLW knows that the last reason to consider commisioning him was for any style, exactly what much that tries to pass as "organic" architecture actually is. In my opinion, there is nothing about the LDH that satisfies the Usonian concept as conceived by Wright.



SWSinDC, your response to pharding was astute and accurate. There are many architects and designers more faithful to Wright and organic architecture than many with an association with Taliesin, past (and especially) the present.
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Collinst3



Joined: 06 Jan 2006
Posts: 42
Location: Lebanon, OH

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went down the Life Home route--but ended up hiring a former senior taliesin fellow and ended up with a design just for my family with many usonian aspects. I am very satisfied and now when I look at the Life home, its seems undistinguished.
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EJ



Joined: 13 Jan 2005
Posts: 239

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess I'm in the minority as to unbuilt Wright designs being built for new clients. I think its neat. Yes, its not the real thing, but its as close as you can get these day without buying a genuine FLW house. He did design each house for the individual client but don't forget many of his designs were recycled from earlier designs he did. In his later years he often didn't even visit the site.



And yes, they have to be brought up to code, but the real beauty of these houses can still be appreciated when built. That's my humble opinion, and I know a lot of you disagree.



The Life House is preferable to the standard McMansion, but I wouldn't call it a real organic design. Its fine.



Does anyone have a list of house or visited a house that was originally an unbuilt design? I would love to hear what you thought.
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"It all goes to show the danger of entrusting anything spiritual to the clergy" - FLLW, on the Chicago Theological Seminary's plans to tear down the Robie House in 1957
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Pb Foot
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 11:22 pm    Post subject: http://www.wrightinwisconsin.org/WrightAndLike/2004/Default. Reply with quote

Hi All,



I was in this house a few years back...



http://www.genesisarchitecture.com/ellsworth.html



at the...



http://www.wrightinwisconsin.org/WrightAndLike/2004/Default.asp



I loved it.



This is what I expect when I think of a modern... well done... Wright like home.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 12:23 am    Post subject: Re: http://www.wrightinwisconsin.org/WrightAndLike/2004/Defa Reply with quote

Pb Foot wrote:
Hi All,



I was in this house a few years back...



http://www.genesisarchitecture.com/ellsworth.html



at the...



http://www.wrightinwisconsin.org/WrightAndLike/2004/Default.asp



I loved it.



This is what I expect when I think of a modern... well done... Wright like home.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 12:25 am    Post subject: Re: http://www.wrightinwisconsin.org/WrightAndLike/2004/Defa Reply with quote

Pb Foot wrote:
Hi All,



I was in this house a few years back...



http://www.genesisarchitecture.com/ellsworth.html



at the...



http://www.wrightinwisconsin.org/WrightAndLike/2004/Default.asp



I loved it.



This is what I expect when I think of a modern... well done... Wright like home.




The Genesis people are just a sample of whats wrong with Architecture today. What Philip Johnson called himself....thats exactly what these people are.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi All,



You statement is grand... but meaningless.



If you do not like some of the homes, so be it. But even Wright created his fair share of crud.



I was through a few of the firm s other homes... all good stuff.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry,



The previous posting was by me, Pb Foot.
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guestnow
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Hi All,

You statement is grand... but meaningless.




I am having trouble finding meaning in what you just said. You said that the statement by All is grand but meaningless. I can't find someone named All here. If you are addressing it to everyone who has posted before (All posters), are you saying that every message in this item above yours is grand but meaningless? This one is not easy to figure out.
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rgrant
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The cost of building the Life Dream House, which was not designed for a specific client and for which the owner would have to adjust his lifestyle to fit, would probably be as great as an architect-designed house built from scratch to the client's exacting needs and desires, even if John Rattenbury were the architect. So why bother? I can understand the desire to build an unbuilt house by FLW -- and I would like to see how well Chahroudi is being realized -- but Rattenbury's design is his design, not Wright's, so if that's what you want, ask John for an original.
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