Evolving Usonian Design

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TrevorHikes
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Joined: Mon May 31, 2021 7:22 pm

Evolving Usonian Design

Post by TrevorHikes »

I have been researching many Usonian houses that were built. I have seen some pro/con commentary on design elements, features, construction methods, materials, etc. Has anyone assessed the best Usonian examples with feedback from owners? The Preserving Usonia paper certainly points to things that could have been improved and should be for evolving usonia.

https://savewright.org/wp-content/uploa ... Usonia.pdf

Tom
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Location: Black Mountain, NC

Re: Evolving Usonian Design

Post by Tom »

Thanks for posting this. Ms. Butler's paper looks as though it's chock full of information.
I plan to read the entire thing.
Seems as though she also has an intimate and very detailed knowledge of Kentuck Knob.

Roderick Grant
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: Evolving Usonian Design

Post by Roderick Grant »

This sound like a basis for a lecture at a FLWBC Conference, and possibly an opportunity to publish for the membership.

outside in
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Location: chicago

Re: Evolving Usonian Design

Post by outside in »

I got as far as reading about the Jacobs House and realized that the author was inexperienced and made a number of errors. I think the effort is, to some degree, doomed from the start. Wright was constantly changing the way he put houses together after 1936, and to somehow try to group these homes as a "type" is a mistake, I think. It may be convenient for historians to attempt to create some regularity, but I predict they will have a great deal of difficulty applying it to built works.

Tom
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Location: Black Mountain, NC

Re: Evolving Usonian Design

Post by Tom »

Shoot, I was hoping for some sound technical know-how.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Re: Evolving Usonian Design

Post by SDR »

An eight-inch slab at Jacobs ? John Eifler will have noted that glaring error; it will likely not be the only item of misinformation found in the paper. The volume of data gathered by the author will, however, be bound to offer new insights into the maintenance and repair of a number of (unnamed) Usonians, based on 62 responses by (anonymous) current or former owners/caretakers of houses (out of 109 questionnaires sent to such persons). John's name is mentioned in connection with the restoration of the Rosenbaum house, one of four abbreviated "case studies" of individual houses, the other three being Jacobs, Pope, and Hagan.

All major building components, systems, and materials found in Wright's Usonian houses seem to have been explored; one-time and periodic maintenance, repair and replacement of same has been quantified and examined. If nothing else, the percentages of houses containing each of the various alternates mentioned, and of the various solutions to identified problems arising with each, will be of interest to some.

This work is now three years old. Perhaps it is not too soon to inquire about its reception by the Conservancy and by owners who might already have profited by its existence ?

S

DRN
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Re: Evolving Usonian Design

Post by DRN »

I think one must keep in perspective that the linked document is a Master's Thesis being read by a rather encyclopedic audience of old white guys who have been studying Wright's work and interacting with it for 20,30,40 even 50 years. The author may only have had a few of years of intense background with the subject.

The intent of the thesis, as I understand it, was to create a primer for preservationists, homeowners, and building stewards to gain a basic understanding of the construction methods and means of Usonian houses and the maintenance issues they often face. The topic is, as we know, wide ranging and easily over generalized. Butler's effort was a good one and should be a useful start to those wanting to have a sense of the potential maintenance issues, their causes, and some strategies for remedies to consider. In any document at this level a technical glitch may show up....I wonder if the thickened slab edge of Jacobs was misinterpreted or misworded as being a constant thickness....

Read it all. It may be old hat to us, and we may find some errors, but overall it should be of use to those laypeople seeking to learn the technical basics.

Roderick Grant
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: Evolving Usonian Design

Post by Roderick Grant »

50 years! Tish-tosh! Try 70+ years.

I agree, DRN: This should be read as a kickoff for further study. Repair and maintenance are the biggest concerns for all FLW buildings at this point and forevermore. Whatever may lack in this effort, overall it should serve as a basis for study.

Tom
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Location: Black Mountain, NC

Re: Evolving Usonian Design

Post by Tom »

Glancing through I’m interested in what she has to say on wood preservation.

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