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Fran Lloyd Wright's hemicycle designs
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 13935
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mmm. Perhaps it isn't. Laurie ? It certainly isn't oriented as we'd expect a solar-sensitive design to be -- but then, neither are Winn and Laurent . . .


I trust we can place round designs like D Wright, Friedman, and Lykes into their own category ?

S
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Laurie Virr



Joined: 25 Jul 2009
Posts: 471

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am hardly an authority Stephen, but for what it is worth I would include the Marden house in the hemicycle group, but omit that designed for Llewellyn Wright.

Does the glazing of ‘football’ ground plans, absorb or reflect sunlight?

I was in error in stating that the bedroom wing of the Rayward house was on a 60/30 grid. My apologies.
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DavidC



Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 5806
Location: Oak Ridge, TN

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marden's siting directly facing and overlooking the Potomac river dictates it's orientation.

As far as Llewellyn Wright, after visiting both Marden and Llewellyn Wright - their main floors have a somewhat similar look and feel to them. They diverge after that, though. The second floor of Llewellyn Wright is very finished and (comparatively) formal (actually, in my mind I find similarities between it and Gordon's second floor), whereas the lower level of Marden is more stark, bare and utilitarian.

I would certainly classify Llewellyn Wright as a "true" hemicycle, though.


David
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Paul Ringstrom



Joined: 17 Sep 2005
Posts: 3660
Location: Mason City, IA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Has anyone else on this chat board seen the interior of the George and Clifton Lewis House in Tallahassee?
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 7316

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I calculated (roughly) that the radius of the Winn Hemicycle is 61', which seems a bit arbitrary. My guess is that FLW drew a concept of the plan freehand, and an apprentice did working drawings, calculating the radius from the rough drawing. Placing too much importance on such details may move evaluation of the plan in the wrong direction. Overall, I would say Winn is the least of the lot, with its 7' ceilings throughout and what must originally have been an uncomfortably dark living room. The interior curved wall, following the glass wall, is a mess in plan, with doors and a hallway interrupting the flow. It seems, from the photograph posted on the real estate listing, to have been built straight, ignoring the curved wall entirely.

I also find the Pearce plan problematic with its French doors opening up the north facade, taking away from the importance of the curved wall. The oddly shaped terrace also seems at odds with the intention. While having a terrace on the north side is obviously desirable, it need not have been done in a way that defies the logic of the hemicycle plan. I doubt FLW wanted that. The windows don't give much of a view uphill, while the south wall overlooks the valley (and the freeway in the distance). Nevertheless, it's a delightful building to be in. Often the plan doesn't tell the whole story.

Rayward-Shepherd shows what happens all too often when people of substantial means try to build a modern house. It's awkward and not very interesting. The Wes Peters addition, which is not shown in the plan above, makes it even more sprawling and incoherent.

I have to give Jacobs II and Laurent the highest marks.
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Rood



Joined: 30 Oct 2010
Posts: 868
Location: Goodyear, AZ 85338

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul Ringstrom wrote:
Has anyone else on this chat board seen the interior of the George and Clifton Lewis House in Tallahassee?


Several years ago Van Lewis, son of George and Clifton Lewis, asked if it would be possible for me to drive his brother from Tucson to the East Coast for a conference dear to Van's heart, but prior commitments prevented that happy circumstance from occurring. It's one of those rare opportunities that you wish you had taken. I knew Van Lewis apart from their FLLWright house, but driving his brother would have been a fascinating experience, as the Lewis family were and are exceptional; completely unique.

The first three-page article (below) is old, but it suggests that Mrs. Lewis was still living in the by then rather dilapidated house with several of her children. No telling what it looks like now. It seems the Lewis family were too busy living to care for the house. Still ... the opportunity to see the house was there, and I could kick myself for not taking it.

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2001-12-26/news/0112260093_1_frank-lloyd-wright-clifton-lewis-spring-house

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/tallahassee/obituary.aspx?n=van-lewis&pid=151780588
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Unbrook



Joined: 08 Jan 2005
Posts: 684
Location: Lakewood, Ohio

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rayward doesn't seem like one either. I think the bedroom wing takes away from the purity of the earlier designs. I went through the house during the mid 60's and do not think about it in the same way as Jacobs II.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 13935
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, no two houses are alike -- and then there's personal perspective, which could be affected by the order in which one visited the various properties, etc etc.

Everyone seems to have selected a house or two, from this list, which he doesn't consider to be worthy of the moniker "hemicycle." Maybe it's time for a definition of terms. Laurie doesn't see the L Wright opus as a hemicycle; maybe he can tell us why ?

SDR
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Education Professor



Joined: 05 Jul 2005
Posts: 585

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SDR, I agree that we should place designs such as D. Wright, Friedman, and Lykes into some type of "circular" category.

I'm likewise interested in Laurie's expert view about the appropriate category for the L. Wright design (and related designs).

EP
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Reidy



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 1335
Location: Northern CA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Isn't a solar hemicycle concave on the outside, to take advantage of daily and annual movements of the sun? In that case one that bends outward, like Ll. Wright, wouldn't qualify.
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Laurie Virr



Joined: 25 Jul 2009
Posts: 471

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a certain looseness in the architectural use of the word ‘hemicycle’. Strictly speaking the term refers to a semi-circular form, and none of the examples to which we are referring are within that category.

Least of all would the Llewellyn Wright house, and those sharing a similar form, meet the criteria. In a previous post I alluded to another possible objection to it by querying whether the convex form would reflect rather than embrace sunlight. Nobody has chosen to accept the bait and comment upon this.
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5374
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why does the orientation, or convex vs. concave, determine whether a house is considered a hemicycle? Isn't the true definition only related to the geometric form itself, that of a portion of a circle, or half circle?

If we additionally would use the term "solar hemicycle", we might be able to more accurately divide these circular formed houses into several categories.
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Rood



Joined: 30 Oct 2010
Posts: 868
Location: Goodyear, AZ 85338

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laurie Virr wrote:
There is a certain looseness in the architectural use of the word ‘hemicycle’. Strictly speaking the term refers to a semi-circular form, and none of the examples to which we are referring are within that category.

Least of all would the Llewellyn Wright house, and those sharing a similar form, meet the criteria. In a previous post I alluded to another possible objection to it by querying whether the convex form would reflect rather than embrace sunlight. Nobody has chosen to accept the bait and comment upon this.


To a certain extent both convex and concave forms reflect sunlight. The difference is that concave forms tend to focus reflections towards a central point, whereas convex forms spread them far and wide. However, Mr. Wright's "hemicycle" designs were designed to incorporate sunlight into the house, itself, as a passive solar device in cold climates. They were not designed to reflect light.

In the course of a normal cloudless day were everything else the same (location, orientation, overhangs, etc,) I doubt there would be an appreciable difference in solar gain between a concave or convex shaped house. Any difference would probably be a consequence of wind direction, the concave shape tending to divert cold winds coming from the sides.

Do honour us with your assessment, Laurie. Having lived in the two climatic extremes ... extreme, bitter cold and extreme desert heat ... I'm naturally fascinated with the subject.
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Laurie Virr



Joined: 25 Jul 2009
Posts: 471

PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rood:

I am aware of the angle of incidence of light, but my comment with regard to its application to the Llewellyn Wright house was in the form of a query, not a statement of fact. It was my hope that contributors to this forum, with far more knowledge of the subject than I, would provide authoritative information. Perhaps you have started the process? Thank you.

Of course I understand that FLLW’s hemicycle designs were designed to incorporate sunlight into the house itself as a passive solar device. [I designed my first passive solar house in 1963 when working in the studio of Malcolm Wells, and I have yet to design any building that does embody those principles]. I did not suggest that houses with ‘football’ shaped ground plans were designed to reflect light, but queried whether they reflected more sunlight than hemicycles, and hence lost potential heat. I am interested in their energy efficiency in the colder months of the year.
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therman7g



Joined: 24 Jan 2005
Posts: 261
Location: Illinois

PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:06 am    Post subject: Jacobs II restoration: Reply with quote

http://www.solarhemicyclo.org/startingout.html

- To the north of the house there are only awning windows to bring light in under the over-hanging roof. To look out of these windows from the inside you must be standing up. The berm for all of its good impacts wall estimated to be 20% of the energy waste. Since it was determined that the above ground area was where within the double stone wall heat would be lost the most., only stone filled the section below the berm. The sections of stone wall which were exposed, were supposedly filled with vermiculite.

- Energy studies done in 1979 estimated that the floor could easily be a 20% contributor to the high energy bills. The lack of insulation between the earth under the pipes and the air layer between the settled heated gravel bed and the concrete floor were responsible. In fact, there was a layer of air insulating the floor from the heat below it. Since the floor acted as footings for the window wall, we left a 10" strip under the wall and slated it over in the final phase.

- The framing was done to duplicate the same impression given by the original wall. The main changes were to use insulated glass. Triple pane was used in all the other places than the solar window wall. In this location, the extra layer of glass provides too much external reflection making the losses in heat gain greater than the gains in insulation.
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