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Avery Coonley Estate
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 14297
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a post-script, it might be said that the above-projected future of FLLW preservation isn't proposed as a superior alternative to keeping all original construction intact; in almost every conceivable way the restoration and maintenance of existing structures, in situ, is the ideal -- and it's still the cheapest way to acquire a Wright-designed environment, isn't it ? Buying and restoring a Usonian house, for instance, with all its expected and unexpected expenses and sacrifices, costs less than starting from scratch on a comparable structure. Moving backward in time through the career, recreating any given design becomes increasingly expensive relative to acquisition and restoration, surely . . .



Where the alternatives I described come into their own is in replacing lost or unbuilt designs, in making them (and all of Wright) more widely available to the interested layman or scholar, and in preserving Wright's designs alongside the material manifestations of the work, those which still exist in their original form.

Every recreation of a Wright structure, in any form, will and must continue to be a hard fought victory, achieved only by convincing the owners of the drawings that the project deserves to exist in a world with extant Wright structures in it. One shouldn't expect to see Wright copies proliferate willy-nilly. One possible control would be to permit only one new brick-and-mortar recreation to be built, anywhere, whether the design still exists on the ground or not. Museum recreations and digital versions would be negotiated separately. Owners of original Wright properties, and the Foundation itself, will have to be convinced that this poses no threat to the value of their holdings; if that can't be done the idea will likely founder, at least insofar as actual habitable construction is concerned.

We are clearly in the golden age of post-career Wright ownership; the houses aren't yet ancient, a great many properties are still viable as residences. How long that state will last will vary widely from place to place and property to property. But it isn't too soon to consider alternatives for houses like Coonley, with its many challenges -- it seems to me. What is learned from each project will aid in solving those to come.

SDR
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pharding



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
Posts: 2202
Location: River Forest, Illinois

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is obviously a financial issue. In Illinois government entities are not in a financial position to help nor are they inclined to do so for political reasons. The money would have to come from the private sector. It is not impossible, but these things take time to sort themselves out.
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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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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 7483

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmmm...
I was coincidentally listening to "The Big One."
It works.
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jim



Joined: 17 Aug 2006
Posts: 237
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A previous commenter wrote:
"It is easy to navigate the grid street pattern of Oak Park. Riverside is broken up by the river and parks and seems designed to limit access."

That is exactly the reason why Frederick Law Olmsted designed Riverside as he did. From the book "Frederick Law Olmsted: designing the American landscape" by Beveridge and Rocheleau, "In planning a suburban village, roads and walks were of the first importance. The streets should be smoothly paved and well drained so that carriages could move easily along them in all seasons. The curvilinear street system that was the hallmark of Olmsted's suburban designs served the practical purpose of discouraging through traffic; it also enhanced the domestic atmosphere of the village by creating an enclosed, intimate space...at Riverside...the curvilinear streets served to create the proper setting. The streets formed an enclosed setting for the village, in contrast to the rectilinear gridiron street system of Chicago:'...as the ordinary directness of line in town-streets with its resultant regularity of plan would suggest eagerness to press forward, without looking to the right had or the left...we should recommend the general adoption...of gracefully-curved lines, generous spaces, and the absence of sharp corners, the idea being to suggest and imply leisure, contemplativeness and happy tranquility.' This psychological basis for Olmsted's decision explains the distinctive street pattern of Riverside." (pp. 100 et seq.).

Another feature of Olmsted's subdivisions is that the roads are slightly depressed from the elevation of the lots, so that from the house (in Olmsted's mind, a tall Victorian with a front porch) you are looking out at greenery not asphalt. In many cases, the roadway completely disappears and you see just the greenery on the near and far sides of the street, visually merged as the street disappears. I have always thought that Wright's raised basement houses in Riverside (Tomek, 1904 and Coonley, 1907) beautifully recognize this feature and this may indeed be one of a number of reasons for that configuration.

Robie (1906), the other raised basement house of the period, of course has a very different setting on a rectangular street corner lot in Chicago. Grant Hildebrandt ("The Wright Space: pattern and meaning in Frank Lloyd Wright's houses", p. 53) says: "The Robie house...was meticulously managed to provide refuge from a busy public thoroughfare."
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lovely. I was unaware of these subtleties of Olmstead's ideal suburban planning system.

I seem to miss your point as to the raised-basement design complementing the depressed pavement, however. Would not raising the main level tend to re-expose the street to view ?

SDR
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Correct, SDR. The photo from the upper level of Tomek looking over the bifurcated walk to the entrance clearly reveals the sidewalk, street and a glimpse of the walk beyond (Inland Architecture, March/April 1984, page 29). The advantage of Olmstead's approach is to give the living areas of the houses privacy from passing pedestrians and autos (or, in his day, carriages). The Victorian houses of Olmstead's day had main levels raised high above the lawn, sometimes over half a flight of stairs. FLW's version of this raised the piano nobile even higher for greater privacy.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Roderick. Jim's well-presented post is of interest; I may have misinterpreted his comment. I would like to know more.

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 14297
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Responding to Paul Harding's post above: Maybe the money for preservation, for the future of Wright's architecture on the ground, comes in part from future homeowners ?


The future of Wright begins now. Original owners are almost gone. Picking up the pieces, finding the thread of Wright's stated intention that Americans deserve a better home, satisfying the desire for more of a good thing, can take place in several ways at once. While properties are rescued and returned to their original condition, new construction can introduce Wright's principles and products to a new generation of seekers.

Should Wright owners feel threatened by a proposed increase in the number of Wright-designed structures on the ground ? I don't think so. Wright buildings constructed while Mr Wright was alive will always be in a class of their own -- a class whose numbers are finite and cannot increase.

Perhaps owners will feel that "newer and shinier" copies will put their own houses somehow in the shade ? Newer and shinier is a double-edged sword, benefitting both the tradition (by contrast) and the Johnny-come-lately.

The preservation professions will have their prestige enhanced when more Americans are aware of Mr Wright and what he did. There will always be work for a Preservation Architect. As the demand grows, languishing properties will acquire owners wishing to do right by them -- for the benefit of all.

Is an ever-narrowing field of Wright properties, fetching ever-increasing prices, really the way to increase value in the brand ? Won't all boats rise as more people become aware of the benefits of living as Mr Wright intended ?

The entities which fund and foster preservation of Wright structures should be able to see an increase in their income, from this practice. The problem will be to find a way to provide those who want it enough, to be able to live Wright.

Sounds like the late unlamented Legacy program, doesn't it. Whatever was learned from that experience should be put to use again, doing it right this time. With all due respect to Erdman owners, I don't think that "Wright Lite" is what the coming market will be looking for. They'll want a piece of the real thing: high-quality first-class designs from the master.

Scarcity isn't really the way to value. Perhaps fulfilling Mr Wright's stated intent -- good houses for Americans -- is the way to honor him, to move forward, to let the legend and the reality grow and flower together ?

Home design is an ever-blossoming interest; those with high aspirations will seek the best. Owners of original properties need not fear loss of value -- real or perceived -- from the fulfillment of Wright's promise; quite the opposite, I would argue. But what is built must be true to the architect, the best that can be found among the built designs, handled with the same sensitivity to site, built with the same love of art and craft that marks the originals.

The budget for such construction must include a hefty "luxury tax" in the form of payment to the owners of the drawings -- and perhaps some other ongoing contribution to an existing or a new preservation fund. As the price for a genuine reproduction of a first-class Wright design rises, value of original properties can only be enhanced.

Two classes of Wright construction -- original, and recreation -- can coexist peacefully and profitably, it seems to me. But the new must match the old in quality, in fidelity to Wright's design. One class is finite; the other represents growth. More new construction can mean a better future for original examples of Wright's art.

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 14297
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The "U-Haul House" ??


So, one path to funding for any project is to accept a commercial or a private name to be attached to the project. Every sports stadium is now blessed or burdened -- branded, anyway -- with a commercial logo and identity, in the form of a (no doubt) mandated usage of that sponsor name every time the venue is mentioned in the press.

Is this the future of Wright architecture ?

In the face of this sort of indignity, would anyone object to the imposition of a 50% Legacy Tax, to be imposed at the commencement of a Wright construction project and directed to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and/or with the Frank Lloyd Preservation Trust, and based on the cost of construction ?

We are in the midst of a period of unprecedented wealth creation thanks to the miracle of Wall Street mechanisms. Should those inclined to build a Wright house not be prohibited from seeking such sponsorship ? Is the cachet of owning a Wright Original or Recreation not worth the "sacrifice" of forgoing commercial tie-ins ?

Or is this the inevitable future of our culture ?

SDR
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Rood



Joined: 30 Oct 2010
Posts: 891
Location: Goodyear, AZ 85338

PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SDR wrote:
The "U-Haul House" ?? Is this the future of Wright architecture ? SDR


The Price house (The Grandma House) in Phoenix was sold to Leonard "Sam" Shoen (1916-1999) when he moved the headquarters of his U Haul Company from Portland, Oregon to Phoenix in 1967. The house proved barely large enough for his family of twelve children.

Shoen asked Wes Peters to design a skyscraper office building for his company, but before design work could commence, Orme Lewis, Mr. Wright's (and the Foundation's) long-time lawyer, talked Shoen into purchasing an empty building on Central Avenue in Phoenix instead. The company is still there.

After one of four of Shoen's divorces .... the Price House stood empty and unused, except for occasional events. There was even talk of tearing it down To the best of my knowledge it's very well maintained by the U Haul Company.

The Shoen family went through very difficult times ... two sons eventually wrested control of the firm from their father, even so far as to take away his retirement benefits. Sam Shoen committed suicide in 1999.


Last edited by Rood on Sat Aug 16, 2014 11:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Rood. I wasn't aware of that history.

"What's in a name ?" A useful question. I guess it was a shock to find a Wright home carrying a commercial name. As one who still believes that Wright houses are properly identified by the client's name -- alone -- or, uniquely, the fanciful title he or his client originally applied to the property, it doesn't sit well to be confronted with these anomalies (ahem).

Now would be the time for an explanation of this practice which would convince me I'm out of order. Why not "Steelcase House" instead of the Meyer May residence ? A contractual prohibition might be the only preventative for a proposed "advertisement" ?

SDR
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jfkaestnerjr



Joined: 01 Aug 2014
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The traditional name shouldn't be completely abandoned, as the original owners should be recognized for their patronage of what was at the time a revolutionary style of design. However, that does not mean sponsorships could not be part of the preservation toolbox. Take for example the Cadillac Palace Theater or the Ford Oriental Theater, both here in Chicago.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Shouldn't be completely abandoned . . ."

Well, that's a start, I guess. Very Happy

SDR
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Paul Ringstrom



Joined: 17 Sep 2005
Posts: 3713
Location: Mason City, IA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the name: U-Haul House is strictly a local phenomena. Chosen and used by people without an architectural knowledge or predilection. In other words they know no better.

U-Haul did not pay to have their name attached to this house... they just bought it a long time ago (47 years ago) and since then the locals came to call it that out of ignorance, not malice.

I can think of no other house that has a local moniker other than the client's or Wright's name attached.

In Mason City the street signage directs the uninformed to the "Frank Lloyd Wright House" or "Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel."
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Paul Ringstrom



Joined: 17 Sep 2005
Posts: 3713
Location: Mason City, IA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SDR wrote:
Should Wright owners feel threatened by a proposed increase in the number of Wright-designed structures on the ground ? SDR


Has someone proposed to reignite the Legacy program?

I think a viable proposal for the FLWBC to work on would be to digitally recreate one unbuilt Wright structure a year as part of its mission of "conserving" Wright's legacy.

This could be done the same way that a few of Bruce Goff's unbuilt structures have been done. The firm Skyline Ink Animation Studios (http://www.skylineink.com) did a fabulous job.
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