Herbert Jacobs House 1936, (Usonia 1) Madison, WI

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v.hain
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Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:07 am

Herbert Jacobs House 1936, (Usonia 1) Madison, WI

Post by v.hain »

Hi,

I´m student of architecture in Belgium. In my school task I have to make a research about the first Usonian House - Herbert Jacobs House 1936 -

I'm looking for Genotype of usonian houses and mainly for the original plans and technical information of this the first made Usonian house.

I'm trying to compare it with other his houses from same time until end of Wrights work and find this kind of connection if it is exist.

If you have any information or advice please let me know.

Thank you very much to everybody

outside in
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Post by outside in »

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Let me know if you need anything else.......[/img]
Last edited by outside in on Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »

Anyone know why Wright chose to stack 3 2 X 4's on top of each other for the roof structure on Jacobs I (and some other subsequent Usonians (e.g. - Pope)), rather than just use a single 2 X 12?

From the above photo, it looks like they just used strapping to hold all the 2 X 4's together.


outside in - thanks for posting the photos. Do you ( or anyone else) know of any source(s) for other good construction photos of Jacobs I? What are the sources for the drawings you posted?


David

DRN
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Post by DRN »

My understanding was that the (3)2x4 built up rafter was done for cost reasons...2x4's being cheaper and easier/quicker to erect than 12's. A structural engineer I worked with at one time noted that a single 12" member or a glue laminated member would have been stronger, as binding the (3)2x4's with periodic straps or blocking does not cause the pieces to act quite as one.

SWSinDC
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Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 3:35 pm

Jacobs I

Post by SWSinDC »

As delighted as I am that FLLW's works continue to be studied by architecture and engineering students in Europe, can someone re-assure us that he is being studied in his home country as well?

peterm
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Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

This has always been one of my favorite Usonian details. I am sure you are right about economy, but isn't it also the wonderful "thinness" of the roof that is so attractive? The stepping of the eaves contributes to an overall lightness in the look.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The drawings are not as originally built, but as the current owner rebuilt the structural system. There were no diagonal braces at the corners, just criss-crossing 2-bys, which had a lot to do with why the corners failed.

Another case of built-up beams is Sturges. The plan called for 4" x 12" redwood timbers for joists, but they were either too expensive or unobtainable, so the beams were made by doubling 2" x 12" beams. For Jacobs I, it was intentional; for Sturges, it was an accommodation which may not have had FLW's approval.

DRN
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Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

The stepped eave detail is elegant; I suspect it causes the eye to perceive the cantilever as a longer span than it actually is due to the slenderness of section. The language of parallel lines in the soffit also carry/transfer/reinforce Wright's rhythmic motifs onto another facet of the building, creating further unity in the composition.

JimM
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Post by JimM »

DRN wrote:My understanding was that the (3)2x4 built up rafter was done for cost reasons...2x4's being cheaper and easier/quicker to erect than 12's. A structural engineer I worked with at one time noted that a single 12" member or a glue laminated member would have been stronger, as binding the (3)2x4's with periodic straps or blocking does not cause the pieces to act quite as one.
Along with your astute comments regarding the aesthetics, that's all true, but as far as strength goes the framing design at Jacobs has considerable structural integrity. Wright's clever solution negated the need for increased member size. The stepped 2x4's allowed the thin roof profile he wanted using a single 2x4. The cantilever length of 2x12's or GLB's would require considerable anchorage well into the house, and their depth creates a problem achieving a thin roof.

Strength-wise the more important factor is the sheathed roof diaphragm, especially since it's flat. I don't know if the sheathing thickness is necessarily adequate, but all in all the system is rigid and use of such basic engineering to create something so beautiful was simply ingenious.... even if having to put bookshelves along the walls to stiffen them! I'm not surprised at what Roderick said about the corners. Sounds like a "fence corner" tension design was intended. Bracing was more successful in the polliwog plans. Strength was created wherever the corners folded inside or out, just like with fences.

Sorry for a rant.

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »

I just read an article (from 1993) by John Eifler (who did a restoration of Jacobs I) where he mentions that in the centers of the built-up roof joists, the original builders had placed 1/2" shims between the upper 2 X 4's to give the roof deck a slight crown for drainage. Unfortunately, the individual 2 X 4's were not tied together. As heavy snow loads worked on the roof, and multiple layers of asphalt accumulated, the individual 2 X 4's sagged and creeped by one another. They eventually deflected downward enough to create shallow ponds on the roof. The fix he used was to jack the joists in the middle to re-create a crown and sister on 1 X 10's to both sides.

Eifler also goes on to mention using flitch plates along with the diagonal bracing to rebuild the corners.


DRN:

Eifler mentions how they went about solving the "standing water/rotten exterior doors" issue. As part of the rehab, they broke up the original interior slab floor to replace the radiant heating system. When pouring the new slab, they raised it's overall height by 1/2" relative to the outdoor slab. They also had to redo all the doors and jambs due to rot. And when they redid the jambs, they reinforced them with steel tees.

If your interested, the above info is taken from "Fine Homebuilding" issue #81 (1993) pp78-82.


David

SDR
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Post by SDR »

It's lovely to see that photo of the unclad eaves -- with doors in place -- perhaps taken during restoration ? I for one have never seen the roof presented that way -- with the 2x4 "risers" in place but the horizontal soffits missing.

The creep issue could have been addressed (and should have been anticipated) during original construction. The use of separate members made the stepped eave easy and logical to produce; the same effect with a single deep joist would have required a lot of tedious notch cuts. Today, we could easily unite the "loose" 2x4s at their mated edges with poly glue, or by slabbing on 1/2" plywood scabs with nails and glue.

SDR

SDR
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Post by SDR »

On another issue, note in the large-scale wall sections that the vertical module is called at 12". Jacobs is the first (obviously) and perhaps the last Usonian to show this minimal module -- and it is unclear to me whether the house was in fact built this way, or with the 12 1/2" or 13" module that became the norm subsequently. The 13" module renders an acceptable if minimal door head height of +- 6'-6" while a 12" module gives a clearly unacceptable 6'-0".

SDR

SDR
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Post by SDR »

"I'm trying to compare it with other his houses from same time until end of Wrights work and find this kind of connection if it is exist." V. Hain


That's a pretty broad task. What would the first of a line be expected to tell us about its younger siblings ? That it served as a prototype, and thus bears a similarity to them in many if not all ways ? What would the researcher expect to find -- similarities and differences ?

Two differences between Jacobs I and all its followers come to mind: One has to do with the exterior treatment, the other with a detail of fixed interior equipment. I wonder if the student can identify both. (No help from the experts, please !)

SDR

SDR
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Post by SDR »

In my last paragraph above, I see that I made a misstatement. The "exterior treatment" I'm thinking of is in fact not confined to the exterior. . .

If it's true that the initial subject -- the quest as stated by the student -- is overly broad, I wonder if readers can suggest ways of narrowing the scope of research and subsequent thesis . .

SDR

v.hain
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Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:07 am

Post by v.hain »

First of all. Thanks very much for every helping detail and notes.
Yes I know is very broad. That is the reason why I´m trying to analyse Jacobs house the first built usonian. If can we consider this real house as a genotype of FLW definition of usonian houses?
Or it can be said that the genotype existed only in theoretical layer with the theoretical parameters. Which have been modified, transformed and upgraded to new requirements and ambient conditions?
Or if it is also possible to say that FLW had a same one genotype, which he used for usonian houses, for all his houses? For instance for usonian houses he only wanted to keep the parameters and same quality of housing lower? And if in his other projects (.....Fallingwater.... etc...) where it was not necessary, because of the larger budget, he only expanded this or this parameter of the genotype, more how he needed?

Narrowing the scope of research and subsequent thesis can be concrete specification of that parameters which can be possibe to used for comparison. It is possible to find all of them in the Jacobs House or are there any other details that should be taken into account?

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