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MY OWN PHOTOS... WALKER RESIDENCE, CARMEL-CALIFORNIA
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 17760
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While a single layer of glass no doubt transmits sound more easily than does, say, a layer of plywood -- much less a 3-layer sandwich partition or a
standard stud wall -- at least Schindler, and Wright in the present example, made sure that direct line of sight was made difficult or impossible. . .
so visual privacy, at least, is maintained in these space-connecting and light-sharing enhancements.


SDR
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Janey Bennett



Joined: 02 May 2013
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:31 pm    Post subject: angle-laid masonry in Walker House fireplace... Reply with quote

I just found a comment in the notes I took 20 years ago interviewing Mark Mills, who worked on constructing the Walker house. He said the stonemason was named de Maria and that Wright had sent the client a new drawing after the fireplace construction had begun. Instead of having the beds of stone going horizontally, he pitched them. The client said, OK tear it all down.

Mills said, "DeMaria had a fit. The masonry went up 11' to 12' and all that had to come down. It was a more dramatic fireplace afterwards. You had to be a wizard to make it work. You'd have smoke all over the place. She (Mrs. Walker) knew how to do it allright. ....Some (of Wright's fireplaces) worked for no reason and the ones that should work didn't work for some unknown reason."
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 17760
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Janey. I continue to marvel at the audacity Mr Wright seems to have demonstrated with the design of some of his fireplaces. Marvelous though they are, the tall ones (in particular) would seem to flout convention and perhaps even common sense. It's good to hear that some of those work well anyway -- and that experience on the part of the owner could make all the difference !

SDR
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Laurie Virr



Joined: 25 Jul 2009
Posts: 471

PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In ‘An Autobiography’ Frank Lloyd Wright railed against the nineteenth century fireplace. Nevertheless, from the commencement of his career until at least 1909 he persisted with fireplaces of similar proportions. The living room fireplace in the Frederick Robie house is a typical example - not in scale with the height of the room.

At the other extreme is the living room fireplace in the Paul and Jean Hanna house, where the hood is scaled to the height of the room, but is so narrow that it was necessary to place the logs vertically on the grate in order to promote anything approximating a blaze. A suitable strategy for when the lower part of the logs burned thru, and they crashed down on the grate and hearth, was never considered.

This circumstance did not prevent FLLW from repeating the formula in the design of the house for Mrs Clinton Walker.

Most architects fail to scale the height and widths of the fireplaces they design to the height of the room within which they are built. It may well be that Frank Lloyd Wright was more concerned with the appearance of his fireplaces than in their function, but it is rare to find in his designs of the Usonian period a fireplace the dimensions of which are not in accord with those of the space in which it is accommodated.

There are many mitigating circumstances beyond the height to the lintel, the width, the damper and flue sizes, that can affect the capacity of a fireplace to operate efficiently. Low pressure areas created by the subsequent growth of trees, buildings that did not exist at the time of the construction of the subject fireplace, and climate change can all be significant factors. It does not follow that because one adopts all the rules established with regard to fireplace design that the final result will always be a success.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 17760
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An Autobiography, p 141:

"...The big fireplace in the house below became now a place for a real fire. A real fireplace at that time was extraordinary. There were mantels instead. A mantel was a marble frame for a few coals in a grate. Or it was a piece of furniture with tile stuck in it around the grate, the whole set slam up against the plastered, papered wall. Insult to comfort. So the integral fireplace became an important part of the building itself in the houses I was allowed to build out there on the prairie.

"It comforted me to see fire burning deep in the solid masonry of the house itself. A feeling that came to stay."


How fine it would be if the fireplace scaled to the height of a room -- an aesthetic desideratum, according to some -- were also the solution to the practical problems. Cleaving to the prescribed norms of relationship of opening to flue section won't always produce the desired result -- but it seems sheer folly to depart from it to the extent and at the frequency practiced by the Old Man. Apparently, he got away with it -- at least some of the time ?

There's a photo of one later brick Usonian with a fireplace modified by a glass enclosure depending from the top of the opening. I'll see if I can find that.

I wonder what percentage of Prairie-period fireplaces performed satisfactorily, as compared to the percentage of those in later residences which succeeded -- as originally designed . . .

SDR
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 9284

PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although the living room fireplace at Hollyhock is never used, we did test it once in the 80s; it drew perfectly. At Ennis, I never saw the fireplaces in the living room, master bedroom or Lloyd's fireplace in the lower level room below the dining room in use, but the dining room fireplace worked without smoking.

Laurie, from strictly a design standpoint, what do you make of the proportions of the Hollyhock fireplace? Of all FLW's fireplaces, that one is the most ceremonial, a veritable altar, and the first one, at 14' from floor to skylight, to rise above door height.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 17760
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter sends a photo of the Lamberson fireplace, in situ. At 6'-8", this might be a record-holder ? That's the height of a modern passage door . . .

Nice restoration, Peter !


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Laurie Virr



Joined: 25 Jul 2009
Posts: 471

PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roderick:

Your request that I comment on the proportions of the Hollyhock fireplace from a strictly design standpoint is a challenge, but I shall embrace it.

It is 20 years since I toured Hollyhock house, so I have had to refer to Google Images in order to refresh my memory to the extent that I am able to comment.

Understanding that I shall probably bring the opprobrium of the general populace down upon my head as a result, it is my opinion that the width of the fireplace opening relative to the masonry mass, and that of the room is excellent, but the lintel of the hood is a course too low. As a consequence, I would place it in the same category as the Frederick Robie house living room fireplace.

Your observation that the Hollyhock fireplace drew perfectly would indicate that the size of the damper and the flue are in correct proportion to the opening. The overall height of the flue would also have a bearing on its performance.

Contrary to the opinion of many, I hold that Frank Lloyd Wright had a thoro knowledge of building construction, but such was his commitment to the art in Architecture that he sometimes allowed his dedication to the latter to overcome the former.

His progression as an architect was not an overnight affair, nor was it a straight line from apprentice to master. I suggest that he arrived at the matter of the height of a fireplace relative to that of the space in which it was located comparatively late in his career. This is not to denigrate his other achievements in revolutionizing residential design, which are legendary.

Having closely studied many construction drawings of FLLW fireplaces, I have never found one where the damper and flue sizes were not compatible with the opening, and reject, absolutely, that ‘he got away with it - at least some of the time’. [I have my suspicions with regard to the 'thin, sooty fingers' of chimneys proposed for the Lusk project].

Moreover, having designed many fireplaces, and as yet not had a failure, [phew!], I understand there is a element of fortune, and numerous imponderables, in their successful operation.

As a consequence, I tend to place some of the stories of the smoky fireplaces in the same category as those of the leaky roofs.

Some 30 years ago I had a call from an irate client telling me that me that he had lighted his fire for the first time and the room had filled with smoke. I asked if he had opened the damper, and there was a long deathly silence from his end of the telephone line........................
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 17760
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For reference:




image courtesy of http://hollyhockhouse.net/




image courtesy of http://donotaskmewhy.tumblr.com/post/17608652291/hollyhock-house-by-frank-lloyd-wright-4-2010
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 9284

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laurie, I must agree with you, Hollyhock could use another course. Although, it might then require a permanent fire, a high priest, an occasional mammalian sacrifice and organ music by the rambunctious Charles-Marie Widor. One improvement that could make the pit of the fire box less noticeable would be the wonderful brass repousse screen, the cost of which, today, might be greater than the entire enterprise cost 90 years ago. Also, the 10 brass light fixtures designed for the room should be added, as well as the gold leaf highlights in the overmantle. Comparing the room as it is today, even not entirely finished, with what it looked like 25 years ago, it hardly seems to be the same building.

SDR, what's the source of those two pictures? I haven't seen any published photos of the room since the carpet was installed. It looks good, although the field color is grayer than what I wanted.
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CEP



Joined: 01 Jul 2006
Posts: 96

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rod - I do recall a reasonably robust fire for a planned event at HH but can't remember any specifics (it may have been a fund raiser or photo shoot)! Am sure I've seen a photo of it - now to find it...
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CEP



Joined: 01 Jul 2006
Posts: 96

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

well, that didn't take long - Los Angeles Times Magazine, May 20, 1990 article by Barbara Thornburg. would post but my scanner is on the fritz.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 17760
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found the photos by Googling "Hollyhock House" and selecting "images." The respective sources are linked in red beneath each photo.


SDR
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RonMcCrea



Joined: 05 Apr 2008
Posts: 330
Location: Madison, Wisconsin

PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you've missed the granddaddy of them all -- Wingspread:

[img][/img]
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 9284

PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are a couple of photos of fire in the hole in Kathryn Smith's book, "FLW, Hollyhock House and Olive Hill," pp 148-9, photographed for the book by Sam Nugroho. But that, like the Alex Vertikoff photos taken shortly after the furniture was installed, was a photo shoot under strict control. I don't recall an 'event' featuring a fire in the living room.
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