The Conical Building Type: 1923-1950+

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Tom
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Post by Tom »

Palli, do you know of or ever heard of a published inventory of Wright's library?

Palli
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Post by Palli »

Tom, I was covering my bases about an inventory- but we should ask Spring Green if there is one. She will know.

Palli
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Post by Palli »

I, for one, am not restricting my thoughts to the Fir Tree Type cabin of the Armstrong Project. (The words may or may not have been Taliesin shorthand for this design thread in the drafting room.) The Fir Tree is a discreet, named design in a group of several different land and barge cabins for the summer colony. Two of the barge names are pedestrian descriptives, Family Type, For Two, but there is Catamaran and The Fallen Leaf as well. All of the designs were conceived together with some visual ideas in common and construction methods. They stand as a set of related designs: a high pitched faceted roof being the most prominent features. Some of these faceted cones had bases that are hexagonal, square or, as in the Fir Tree Type, somewhat flower petal-like. There are some elaborate lower roofs protruding, at corners and on the sides, some peaked also, and some with ridge detailing as Tom remarks. BBP, in the text of Wright 1917-42, quotes from a letter to Aline Barnsdall in Dec 15, 1933 where Wright suggests she should buy the Emerald Lake property." ...The Lake Tahoe designs were tent-like and terraced-and belonged with the big trees-around them."

I care little about labels-Fir Tree, Conical, High-Pitch Roof or whatever-but I care about associative visual ideas and the re-thinking of those ideas through time and circumstance. Looking at Wright's body of work, these structures form a group and Beth Sholom's transparency or Hebrew symbolism do not break the relationship. In a group there may be differences, obviously and thankfully. The differences help me understand each one better, as well as, recognize their similarities. That is how I see it.

...not that any of this matters during the autotelic experience of the building

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Per Cohen: "The Great Menorahs

"On the three ridges of the Synagogue seven-branched menorahs, artistically conventionalized, can be seen from every direction. In the ancient Tabernacle the Menorah was a central symbol, so on the Beth Sholom Synagogue the great Menorahs lift their arms as in prayer."

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Rather than "Fir Tree," an appropriate term which would immediately identify the subject might be simply "Tahoe." Everything designed for that project (the only built versions being Davis and Arnold Friedman) is of one family. But in every cabin design the tall roof acts as a solid lid over a fenestrated base, while Beth Sholom is a massive base penetrated only for access, topped by a transparent roof, at most the obverse of Tahoe.

One predecessor of Tahoe (by a year) that might be worth investigating, although the records of it are scant, is Compound and Shrine for A. M. Johnson in Death Valley (which eventually evolved into the non-Wright "Death Valley" Scotty's Castle). There is an elevation of this textile block structure (M4/200-3; T2/128; "Wright in Hollywood" 110-3) that shows a Tahoe-shaped roof. Even the second residence for Aline Barnsdall in Beverly Hills has hints of this trend.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

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Black-and-white matter © Robt L Sweeney, "Wright in Hollywood"

SDR
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Post by SDR »

More from Robert L Sweeney, "Wright in Hollywood" (MIT Press, 1994), pp 110-113:


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Rood
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Post by Rood »

Tom wrote:Palli, do you know of or ever heard of a published inventory of Wright's library?
Funny, but recently a member of Librarything.com (where my books are catalogued) asked me if I could somehow arrange to have Mr. Wright's library added to that computer site, as another important "Legacy Library". I asked BBP about the collection, and he suggested I come up and take a look. Evidently a lot of the books are stored in the archive vault. If they aren't catalogued, I intended to to volunteer, but so far I haven't made it up there.

I do know of one book that isn't in the vault ... and that's Flagg's Small Houses, c. 1922 by Ernest Flagg. Mr. Wright's copy is in the WWPeters library at Taliesin West, or at least it was several years ago.

Palli
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Post by Palli »

Thanks, SDR! now to study
The Archives number system is not always a clear indication of commission chronology, but these textile block(?) desert designs are marked 1923- concurrent with or after much of Armstrong then?
Does the Sweeney text say anything about the client and the life for the ranch?

Rood, that is wonderful! a Wright library inventory would be an important endeavor. I wish you as many quiet hours as you need to enjoy, browse and catalogue...

pharding
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Post by pharding »

Thanks. I started cataloging my books on Librarything.com after reading Rood's post.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

Tom
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Post by Tom »

A lot going on in this thread.
Wasn't AM Johnson some kind of right wing Christian cooky? Very insightful images to associate with this discussion. Scully missed it. I sure as hell did too. Uncanny.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Sweeney identifies him as a fundamental Christian who took the text of the Bible as literal truth. Whether that made him a "right wing Christian cooky" someone else will have to verify.

I'm sorry -- what did you and Vincent Scully miss ?


SDR

Tom
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Post by Tom »

The elevations of Johnson with the coin of Byblos.

Tom
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Post by Tom »

(Please excuse my petulant snobbery toward those who take the text of the Bible as literal truth.)

Tom
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Post by Tom »

I stepped away from this thread because life got busy plus I went down a Rabbit hole on Google looking into the history of hats. I found that the history of hats is all very interesting if you like hats, but probably not all that informative of architecture like RG was suggesting.

But wait. SDR posts the AM Johnson building! And behold, there is a ginormous pointy hat on it. Totally out of character for Wright, no? So what's going on here. He (Wright) had something in mind no doubt. What is it? For sure, I do not know. But Johnson was a Biblical literalist. How could Wright possibly relate to that? So, there is a sense in which it looks like he puts a dunce cap on Johnson's head. Isn't there the sense that the Johnson elevations stand out like some kind of joke in Wright's work? And RG has said that Wright often tried to reflect his clients in the buildings he designed for them. What is that quip Wright made about trusting anything spiritual to the clergy. ...umm just thinking out loud here. I love the project in general.

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