Wright, Frank Lloyd

Henry J. Allen House

Added by Jennifer Whisenhunt, last update: August 17, 2012, 12:44 pm

Henry J. Allen House
Photo: North view of the Henry J. Allen House , source: Randy Whisenhunt, date: 26 March 2012
Location
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Residential (RES)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):

National Register of Historic Places (1973)

History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Wichita, Kansas residence in 1915 for Henry J. Allen, one of Kansas' most influential twentieth-century statesmen. The Allen family moved in after construction finished in 1919 and lived in the house until the late 1940s.

Dates: Commission / Completion:Commission: 1915, Completion: 1919
Architectural and other Designer(s): Frank Lloyd Wright
Others associated with Building/Site: George M. Niedecken (furniture), Henry J. and Elsie J. Allen (1915-1947), Edgar H. Adair, Arthur W. Kincade, Wichita State University Endowment Association, Allen-Lambe House Foundation (1990-present)
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): Unaltered
Current Use: Today the house is maintained by the Allen-Lambe House Foundation as a house museum.
Current Condition: Good: The house underwent an extensive restoration project in the 1970s and the garden was restored in 2010.
General Description:

The Henry J. Allen house is an L-shaped two-story structure with a basement. This large Prairie style residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright measures approximately 125' long east to west while the one-story north-south wing is about 90' long. There is a courtyard on the north side of the main section of the house, which is enclosed by the building on the south and east, by a garden teahouse on the west, and by a massive brick wall on the north. -NRHP Nomination Form

The house is located in the northeast portion of Wichita, Kansas and still sits on its original site of approximately one acre of flat land in a residential neighborhood. The house is revered within the Wright World for being one of his last examples of the Prairie style, and as having influences from his Imperial Hotel, as seen in the curved roof lines, and his Usonian houses, as seen in the concrete blocks in the front of the house.

Construction Period:

1917-1919

Original Physical Context:

Still on original site. The house, located in the northeast portion of Wichita, Kansas, was built on approximately one acre of flat land in a residential neighborhood. Designed as a part of the total environment, the backyard courtyard area boasts a rectangular pool and plants.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

The exterior walls are built of yellow-buff brick laid with the vertical joints cut flush and the horizontal joints deeply raked, typical of the Prairie Style. Ornamental stone trim is used extensively throughout the building, especially for column bases, window sills and planter boxes. Brick pilasters are used to separate each window or door opening. The roof features broad overhangs and a low-pitch, hip style covered with massive red-clay tiles. The casement windows are rectangular with brown painted wood frames. -NRHP Nomination Form

Social:

The house’s social history comes into play in the context of local and state politics. The house was originally designed for prominent statesman Henry J. Allen who became the Kansas governor from 1919-1923. He then went on to serve as a United States senator from 1929-1930 to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Charles Curtis. Before his stint in politics, Allen was known as a newspaper mogul, buying multiple papers such as the Salina Republican (later the Salina Journal), Manhattan Nationalist, Ottawa Herald and Wichita Beacon. As a prominent social and political entity in Wichita, Allen most likely would have been aware of how Wright was transforming the American household and understood how associating with Wright's progressive idea's would advance his career and political goals in the social realm of the city.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
Known as the last Prairie-Style house designed by Wright, the building speaks to his unique horizontal aesthetic, as seen in the roof, brick work and window and furniture details. The house was built during a transitional period, not only for the United States as the nation entered World War I in 1917, but also for Wright and Allen individually. Wright was in the midst of designing and building the Imperial Hotel in Japan while Allen was running a bustling newspaper business only to soon become the governor of Kansas in 1919. The Allen House is thought to be the last Prairie style design of Wright's career and embodies the ideals of a "democratic architecture" for America. There are three main characteristics seen in the exterior that link this house to the design aesthetics of the Prairie style: the brick work, the window placement and the roof design.
Historical:

The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1973 for its association with Frank Lloyd Wright and Henry J. Allen. These relations and the fact that this is the only Wright designed house in Kansas give historical importance to the building. The building is also the only house museum in Wichita.The Allen House is not only Wright's last statement of Prairie style architecture, acting as a transition piece between Prairie style, Usonian and Japanese influences, but it is also a symbol of an architectural democratic movement that began when Wright began to question the "classic" architecture expressed in countless homes across America.

General Assessment:
The Henry J. Allen house is a combination of the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie-Style and a local political celebrity. The house is in great condition and is being maintained by the Allen-Lambe House Foundation however; it is only open for tours by appointment booked ten days in advance and no photography is permitted inside. The Allen House is of great importance to Kansas and should be more accessible for the local residents to enjoy.
Documentation
Text references:

City of Wichita. Wichita's History at a Glance. 2012. Web. .
Connelley, William. Kansas. Kansas State Historical Society and Department of Archives. History of Kansas Newspapers: A History of the Newspapers and MagazinesPublished in Kansas from the Organization of Kansas Territory, 1854, to January 1,1916. Topeka: Kansas State Printing Plant, 1916. Web. .
Frank Lloyd Wright's Allen-Lambe House. The Allen-Lambe House Foundation, 10 July 2008. Web. 20 Feb 2012. .
Hall, Charles, and Richard Pankratz. United States. Kansas State Historical Society. National Register of Historic Places- Nomination Form. 1973. Web. .
Huxtable, Ada Louise. Frank Lloyd Wright. New York City: Lipper/Vicking, 2004. Print.
Kansas. Kansas State Historical Society. Henry J. Allen. 2009. Web. .
Kansas. Kansas State Historical Society. Henry J. Allen House. 2012. Web. .
"Kansas Museums." Blue Skyways. State Library of Kansas. Web. 21 Feb 2012. .
Legler, Dixie. Prairie Style : Houses and Gardens by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie
School. New York City: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1999. Print.
United States. United States Congress. Henry Justin Allen (1868-1950). Web. .
Wright, Frank Lloyd. An Organic Architecture: The Architecture of Democracy. Cambridge:
MIT Press, 1970, c1939. Print.
Yount, Lori. "Architect's Grandson Visits Rare Open House." Wichita Eagle [Wichita] 09 May 2010, n. pag. Web. 21 Feb. 2012. .

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Jennifer Whisenhunt | jlw2195@columbia.edu | 12 May 2012
Additional Images
Henry J. Allen House
Photo: South view of the Henry J. Allen House , Source: Randy Whisenhunt, date: 26 March 2012
Henry J. Allen House
Photo: Window detail of the Henry J. Allen House , Source: Randy Whisenhunt, date: 26 March 2012

Ennis House

Added by Talene Montgomery, last update: August 17, 2012, 11:57 am

Ennis House
North Entrance, source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cityprojectca/3763017379/in/photostream/, date: 7/27/2009
Location
2607 Glendower Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
United States
34° 6' 58.3992" N, 118° 17' 34.44" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Residential (RES)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):

National Register of Historic Places (October 14, 1971), California Historical Landmark (October 14, 1971), Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (March 3, 1976)

History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned by Charles Ennis and his wife Mabel to build them a 6,000 square foot house.

Dates: Commission / Completion:1923 / 1924
Architectural and other Designer(s): Frank Lloyd Wright with son Lloyd Wright. Lloyd Wright supervised construction and prepared working drawings for the Ennis House.
Others associated with Building/Site: Owners Charles Ennis and his wife Mabel
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): In 1940, radio personality John Nesbitt purchased the house and commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a swimming pool on the north terrace. In 1980, owner Gus Oliver Brown donated the house to the Trust for Preservation of Cultural Heritage, initiating a $250,000 restoration project. The restoration was conducted by Eric Wright, son of Lloyd Wright and grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright. The Dennis Company was commissioned as contractor. Restoration involved the removal and replacement of crumbling retaining wall blocks, which were cast in a light concrete substitute material. In 2006, the Ennis House Foundation initiated a $6.5 million restoration and stabilization project to remediate damages caused by the Northridge earthquake in 1994 and the mudslides of 2005. This included the installation of 20 steel caissons to secure the house to the underlying bedrock, extensive replacement of textile block, and the replacement of the roof. The project team included construction manager Alfatech Cambridge, general contractor Matt Construction and its subcontractors, structural engineer Melvyn Green and Associates, preservation consultant Historic Resources Group, art-glass conservator Judson Studios, and architect Eric Lloyd Wright, grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Current Use: As of 2011, the use is pending. The Ennis House has been placed on the market for sale to a private owner. To protect it from demolition, the Ennis House Foundation has put a conservation easement on the property.
Current Condition: The house is still in need of extensive repair, though its condition has been stabilized by the foundation’s 2006 intervention.
General Description:

The Ennis House is a two story concrete masonry structure arranged along the slope of a hill along a longitudinal axis. The entry is situated at the west end of the house, across from the motor court and garage at the west end of the site. The entrance is characteristically Wrightian in that a low, dark foyer prefaces the dramatic procession up into a high, light-filled space. The upper floor serves as the primary level, linking a dense cluster of social spaces organized around the entrance stair above the foyer. Two private bedrooms are located along the eastern end of a long colonnaded gallery. The gallery unites and defines the overall composition of the house and interweaves the interior rooms with extensive outdoor terraces.
The exterior walls of the house – unlike the other three textile block houses – are battered in a manner similar to the Hollyhock House, though here the effect is achieved by offsetting the stacked textile blocks. The flat roof and ceiling are made from teak and are not expressed on the elevation.
The textile block walls which characterize the heavy massing of the house were designed and constructed as cavity walls to allow for visual continuity of material into the interior. The blocks were left 'natural' in tone and use an aggregate found on the site as a means of integrally linking the house to its site. Due to the modular nature of the concrete textile blocks, each major programmatic space is articulated as a separate, yet integrally connected volume.

Construction Period:

The Ennis House – and the textile blocks which comprise it – was assembled on site by hand. Aluminum molds were used for casting, but due to the imprecise nature of molding on site, there was a considerable margin of error amongst the blocks. The structure’s double wall design helped to accommodate the imprecision of each component, but a good deal of shimming was required, complicating and extending the construction process. According to Frank Lloyd Wright, “None of the advantages which the system was designed to have were had in the construction of these models. We had no organization. Prepared the moulds experimentally. Picked up ‘Moyana’ men in the Los Angeles street, and started them making and setting blocks – The work consequently was roughly done and wasteful. None of the accuracy which is essential to economy in manufacture nor any benefit of organization was achieved in these models.’

Original Physical Context:

The innate drama of the Ennis house is underscored by its siting high in the hills behind the Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles. Its longitudinal orientation is informed by the shape of the site and Glendower Avenue, which wraps around the site on three sides. Though the two long facades of the house are nearly identical in character, each side's relationship to the site is very different. The north facade more intimately relates with the hill extending about it, while the south facade's upper terraces extend down to the ground in great retaining walls viewable from the city below.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

The textile block used at the Ennis, Storer, Freeman and Millard houses was so named for the method of laying steel rods horizontally and vertically along grooves inset into the edges of the blocks, much as a warp and a weft interweave in a textile. In theory, once the blocks were stacked and rods laid, grout would be poured into the cores, locking the steel with the concrete block. By weaving steel reinforcing rods within the grid of blocks, the design eliminated the need for a plastic mortar joint between blocks. This in turn eliminated the need for skilled stone masons on the job, theoretically decreasing the cost of labor of the project. Various patterns could be cast into the face of the 3-1/2” thick blocks during manufacturing to lend specificity to the otherwise standard nature of the components. At Ennis House, a single, asymmetrically patterned block type is used in alternating courses as well as to graphically delineate openings. Double walls of the textile blocks were used as a means of keeping moisture out of the interior with steel wires placed 32” on center to keep the double walls tied together.

Social:

The Ennis house was constructed as a personal residence for Charles Ennis and his wife. Despite the vastness of the building, however, the main house only has two bedrooms. Charles Ennis only lived in the house for four years, until his death in 1928. His wife Mabel Ennis then sold the house in 1936. A series of owners followed in succession until Gus Brown donated the house to the Trust for Preservation of Cultural Heritage in 1980. As much as the house has been praised for its monumentality, it has also received criticism for a general lack of domestic character.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
The compositional flexibility afforded by the textile block is evidenced by each of the four textile block houses. The material’s modularity places formal emphasis on clear geometric massing, which clearly distinguishes these houses from the low-lying horizontality of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie houses. In addition, the integration of pattern into the building’s structural components developed out of Wright’s conception of unifying architecture and decoration.
Historical:

In the early 1920s, Frank Lloyd Wright built a series of four experimental “textile block” houses in Los Angeles. After designing his first California commission – the Hollyhock House for Aline Barnsdall – in 1921, and while finishing the second Imperial Hotel in Japan (1915-1923), Wright shifted his focus towards developing a method for affordable residential building. Wright became interested in the potential of concrete block as a means to simplify the process of construction. He resolved to elevate the ubiquitous material into a “noble” one through the application of unifying geometric motifs as wells as through the concealment of joints and reinforcing.
Of the four textile block houses constructed – the Millard House, Freeman House, Storer House and Ennis House – the Ennis House was the last to be designed and built. Wright designed the house for the businessman Charles Ennis and his wife Mabel. At 6,000 square feet, it is the largest of the textile block houses to be constructed. Its design was also the most monumental of the four, an effect compounded by its prominent siting on a hill at the top of Vermont Boulevard in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

General Assessment:
The set of four textile block houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles in the early 1920s is notable for Wright’s effort to prototype a flexible and affordable construction method for modern dwellings. The Ennis House, in particular, is significant for Wright’s attempt to establish a local architectural vocabulary for Los Angeles by drawing on Mayan motifs and forms. He extended those themes he had tested in his first Los Angeles residence, the Hollyhock House, and articulated them through his new textile block system. Yet while the set of houses serve as the paradigm for Wright’s textile block system, their experimental nature and imprecise construction have left them each in precarious condition. The Ennis House has suffered the greatest deal of damage, from destabilizing natural disasters to detrimental remedial measures. Despite extensive restoration efforts already taken, the house will continue to require a great deal of maintenance if it is to live on into the foreseeable future.
Documentation
Text references:

Hitchcock, Henry-Russell, "In the Nature of Materials: The Buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright, 1887-1941,"New York, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 75-77; Kanner, Diane, “A First Peek Inside Wright,” Los Angeles Times, March 23, 1980. Maddex, Diane, "Fifty Favorite Houses by Frank Lloyd Wright,"Thames&Hudson, 2000, 63-69; Pfeffer, Bruce Brooks and Yukio Futagawa, "Frank Lloyd Wright Selected Houses 8," ADA Edita, 6-18, 92-96; Reborn, A.N., “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Textile-Block Slab Construction,” The Architectural Record, Vol. 62 No. 6, Dec. 1927, 448-452; Storrer, William Allin, “The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright,” 217; Wright, Eric Lloyd, "Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian Automatics," in "Frank Lloyd Wright|The Houses," Rizzoli 2006, 458. Zimmerman, Scott, "Guide to Frank Lloyd Wright's California," Peregrine Smith Book Co., 1992, 20-24; "Frank Lloyd Wright: textile block houses," Space design 1984 Sept., no.240, p.63-78; "The pioneering age of concrete blocks: Frank
Lloyd Wright's textile-block houses,"Detail Apr. 2003, Vol. 43 Issue 4, 310; "Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House for Sale," Los Angeles Conservancy, LA Conservancy Website, http://www.laconservancy.org/issues/issues_ennis.php4

Authoring
Recorder/Date:

Millard House (La Miniatura)

Added by Emma Jane Marconi, last update: August 17, 2012, 11:56 am

Millard House (La Miniatura)
Location
645 Prospect Crescent
Pasadena, CA 15046
United States
34° 9' 19.4292" N, 118° 9' 42.57" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Residential (RES)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):

The Millard House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 12, 1976 for its significance in architecture, engineering and landscape architecture. The house is also located within the Prospect Historic District which was created in 1983. This historic district spans 689 acres and has approximately 116 buildings.

History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

In 1906 Frank Lloyd Wright designed a home for Alice Millard, a rare-book dealer, and her husband in Highland Park, Illinois. After her husband’s death Alice moved to Los Angeles County where she commissioned Wright to design another house.

Dates: Commission / Completion:The Millard House was completed in 1923.
Architectural and other Designer(s): Frank Lloyd Wright designed the main house and his son, Lloyd Wright, later designed a detached book studio and guest house.
Others associated with Building/Site: A local Pasadena contractor, A. C. Parless, built the Millard House.
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): In 1926 Lloyd Wright designed the detached book studio and guest house.
Current Use: Residence
Current Condition: The site is in good condition and was renovated in 2000. The concrete blocks do react with the local air pollution which has lead to some premature decay.
General Description:

The house is composed of rough textured earth toned concrete blocks which allow the house to blend in with the landscape. In addition, the fabricated concrete blocks use sand from the property further integrating the structure with the surrounding natural environment. Even though Wright waived his fee for the house the final cost was 70% ($7,000) over the strict $10,000 budget. At three stories the structure is 2,400 square feet in total. The first floor has the kitchen, dining room and maid’s room. The dining room opens to a terrace with a reflecting pool connecting the house with the outdoors. The main entrance is located on the second floor along with a guest room and a large two-story living room. Within the living room is the concrete block fireplace, the main focal point of the house. A balcony from the third story overlooks the living room below. On the third floor Wright placed Millard’s bedroom with an outdoor terrace. While the load bearing walls are constructed of concrete blocks the interior walls are wooden studs with plaster. The floors are either concrete or wood and the ceilings are plaster or exposed redwood. In 1926, Lloyd Wright, Wright’s son, designed a separate studio and guest house.

Construction Period:

Completed in 1923, addition completed in 1926

Original Physical Context:

The Millard House sits along a steep ravine located on a tree covered lot.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

Wright's textured concrete block was a new experimental material in modular housing. The concrete blocks were poured onsite using wooden molds and constructed with a tongue and groove system and conventional mortar. Unlike the Millard House, Wright’s later three textile block houses within the Los Angeles area used rebar reinforced blocks. The additional rebar provides a catalyst for the cracking and breaking of the original concrete. For example, if moisture seeps into the concrete block and comes in contact with the rebar the metal can rust. This rust can cause chunks of concrete to pop off from the original block.
At the Millard House the walls are two concrete blocks thick with an air gap to provide insulation. These concrete blocks are richly textured and patterned with a modernized pre-Columbian motif of a central cross and a square in each corner. Some of the blocks are solid while others are perforated to allow filtered light through the cross. In his autobiography Wright wrote that he chose concrete blocks since they were “the cheapest (and ugliest) thing in the building world,” and he wanted to see what he could accomplish (Wright 234).

Social:

With the Millard House Wright attempted to reinvent himself by breaking with the horizontally oriented structures of the Prairie Style. In addition, Wright attempted to develop a new low cost flexible building system. When designing his concrete block technique Wright used a standardized block as the basic design unit. The blocks created a grid like geometric pattern and the small scale of the unit allowed for an adaptable organic design that could closely follow the landscape. While the building system was flexible it proved to be more expensive than planned, and the house was 70% over budget.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
The Millard House was inspired by pre-Columbian motifs popular in 1920s architectural culture, which evoked a sense of the exoticism. Evidence of Mesoamerican designs are seen in the heavy massing of the house, its flat roofs, geometric arrangement of spaces and the concrete block pattern.
Historical:

The Millard House was the first of four textile block houses designed by Wright. The other three houses, all of which are located in the Los Angeles area, are the Samuel Freeman House (completed 1923), the Storer House (completed in 1923) and the Ennis House (completed in 1924). In addition, Wright's design for the Millard House utilized pre-Columbian/Mayan Revival motifs that were popular during the 1920s and 1930s within the United States.
Wright created the new textile block construction system stating: “We would take that despised outcast of the building industry- the concrete block...find hitherto unsuspected soul in it- make it live as a thing of beauty- textured like the trees” (Pfeiffer 45)

General Assessment:
The Millard House is one of a few Mayan Revival Style structures built by Wright utilizing his inventive textile block construction. As Wright's first textile block house, the Millard House set a precedent for the design of the subsequent textile block houses and stands out as a lasting example of Wright's innovations in building technology. Wright fused aestheticism and practicality, while creating a house that is open to and connected with nature. While the initial response to the Millard House was negative, it is now known around the world as one of the most significant structures in the Los Angeles area.
Documentation
Text references:

"CALIFORNIA (CA), Los Angeles County." National Register of Historical Places. Web. 29 Jan. 2011. .

Crosby Doe Presents Frank Lloyd Wright Millard House, Pasadena, CA. Web. 24 Jan. 2011. .

Groves, Martha. "Tour Shows off the Block Architect Wright Played with." Los Angeles Times - California, National and World News - Latimes.com. 27 Jan. 2008. Web. 22 Jan. 2011. .

LeBlanc, Sydney. The Architecture Traveler: a Guide to 250 Key 20th Century American Buildings. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000. Print.

Pfeiffer, Bruce B. Frank Lloyd Wright, 1867-1959: Building for Democracy. Germany: Taschen, 2004. Print.

Phillips, Ruth Anne. ""Pre-Columbian Revival": Defining and Exploring a United States Architectural Style, 1910--1940." ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2007. PROQUESTMS. Web. 30 Jan. 2011.

Storrer, William Allin., and Frank Lloyd Wright. The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: a Complete Catalog. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2002. Print.

Vargas, Angela Paola. "The Textile Block System: Structural Analysis and Alternative Seismic Upgrading to IBC 2003." ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2009. ProQuest. Web. 30 Jan. 2011.

Wright, Frank Lloyd. An Autobiography. Pomegranate, California: Pomegranate Communications, Inc, 2005.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Emma Marconi/2.2.2011

Taliesin West

Added by Kenisha R Thomas, last update: August 17, 2012, 11:58 am

Taliesin West
Taliesin West , source: Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation : (http://www.franklloydwright.org/fllwf_web_091104/Tours.html), date: 2004
Location
12621 North Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ 85259
United States
33° 36' 25.2" N, 111° 50' 34.8" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Education (EDC)
Secondary classification: Residential (RES)
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):

Added to the National Register of Historic Places: February 12, 1974

National Historic Landmark designation: May 20, 1982

Scottsdale Historic Register designation – April 4th 2006
10 acres of the 490 acre Taliesin West Campus was designated.

History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

In 1927 Frank Lloyd Wright went to Arizona to participate in the design and building of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. The following year, Wright was commissioned by Dr. Alexander Chandler to design a luxury resort in Chandler, Arizona. Instead of living in a rented home, as he did in 1927-28 while working on the Biltmore Hotel, Wright decided to set up headquarters ten miles outside of town at a site he called Ocotilla. The Ocotilla camp was very important in the history of the development of Taliesin West. In the construction of the camp Wright and his apprentices developed many of the ideas and techniques that would later be used in the construction of Taliesin West, such as the use of a canvas and wood roofing system. However, when the stock market crashed in 1929 work on the resort project was halted and Wright and his apprentices returned home to Wisconsin abandoning the Ocotilla campsite.

In 1937 Wright decided that he wanted to create a winter home and headquarters for the Taliesin Fellowship, an architectural apprenticeship program that he started in 1932 at the Taliesin complex in Wisconsin. He purchased 800 acres of land northeast of Scottsdale, Arizona and began developing the Taliesin West complex. The complex started out as a group of tents and wooden frame buildings with canvas roofs that were constructed by students of the Taliesin Fellowship under Wright’s guidance. From the very beginning the complex was intended to be a working and living space that would incorporate Wright’s architectural ideas and principles: a building should be in harmony with its surrounding environment, intimate spaces should be incorporated in its design and buildings should be human in scale. The first phase of construction began in the winter of 1937-38 was completed in 1940.

Over the next two decades, until his death in 1959, Wright continued to alter and add to the complex, experimenting with different techniques and materials. After his death Wright's apprentices, under the supervision of Wright’s wife and then later William Wesley Peters, continued to experiment with the complex adding and augmenting existing building as needed.

Dates: Commission / Completion:Start of site work: 1937, Design Period: 1937-1959
Architectural and other Designer(s): Frank Lloyd Wright
Others associated with Building/Site: Taliesin Fellowship and Apprentices of Frank Lloyd Wright
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s):
Current Use: Today, Taliesin West serves as the main campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture as well as the home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, a nonprofit established by the architect in 1940 which today owns, protects and operates the facility.
Current Condition: In 2010 the Taliesin West complex was placed on the World Monuments Fund’s 2010 World Monuments Watch, a list of 100 current heritage sites that have been identified as being potentially “at risk”. Although comprehensive plans have been created that outline major preservation issues and provide recommendations for the restoration and structural stabilization of the building that make up the complex, there is insufficient funding to carry out these long term restoration projects.
General Description:

Taliesin West is a desert complex of low slung buildings that served as Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, architectural laboratory and school for his architectural apprenticeship program the Taliesin Fellowship. The complex is situated on over 500 acres of land and is located at the foot of the McDowell Mountains in the Sonoran Desert, twenty-six miles northeast of Phoenix, Arizona. The Taliesin complex consists of a triangular site plan with many significant buildings set at a 45 degree angle to the entrance drive on a northwest-southwest axis. The terraces that connect many of the significant structures together and a pool to the south and west of the main complex continue this triangular plan as well as establish a cross axis for the site.

The main materials used in the construction of the Taliesin complex were multicolored volcanic rocks available on site, cement, white canvas and redwood. Overtime glass and plastic were incorporated into the site. The walls, parapets and substructures that comprise the complex were hand-built using volcanic rocks that were embedded in cement through a process called “desert masonry”. In this process the rocks were placed into a wooden form and cement was poured in and allowed to set. Once dried the wooden forms were stripped and reused to continue the wall as desired.

The roofs of the office, drafting and garden room, three of several rooms that comprise the main complex, were made out of sheets of canvas that were stretched over large redwood trusses. However, due to the fact that the canvas used on the roofs needed constant replacement and repair, Wright began experimenting with different materials in order to find an appropriate replacement. Eventually, appropriate plastic materials that could hold up against the elements were incorporated into these structures.

The key building/features that comprise the complex include:
Garden Room (1938): The Garden room is a spacious, well-lit room designed and built by the architect and considered the showpiece of the whole complex.

Kiva Theatre (1938): Located in the apprentice court, the Kiva is a masonry structure that served as a movie viewing area, concert hall, theater, apprentice lounge, library, storage, and currently as a classroom and conference room.

Wright’s Office (1939): Wright’s office was one of the first buildings constructed and serves as the “dominate architectural theme” for the complex.

Drafting Studio, Kitchen and Dining Area (1939): These three areas form a group of interconnected buildings and are the core of the Taliesin West complex.

Sunset Terrace (1939): A formal, triangular, outdoor space adjacent to the core of the complex.

Shop(1939): A craft and shop area located at the western end of the complex.

Wright family living quarters (1940): A suite of rooms that served as the living quarters for the Wright’s.

Apprentice Court and Apartments (1941): A grouping of small rooms around a courtyard that served as living quarters for Wright’s apprentices.

Sun Cottage (1948): The Sun Cottage is a freestanding structure located east of the main complex. Originally called the “suntrap”, the cottage served as the initial living space for the Wright family. This living space was expanded in 1948 and renamed the Sun Cottage. In 1962 the area was enclosed and turned into a studio for apprentices.

Cabaret Theater (1951): The theater is a half sunken, reinforced concrete and desert stone theater that extends from Wright’s office.

Music Pavilion (1956, rebuilt in 1964): The pavilion is a steel-reinforced building with a roof of rigid-steel frames and translucent plastic used to host meetings, performances, and exhibitions.

Realigned Entrance Drive and Citrus Grove (1958): The citrus grove and the realignment of the entrance drive to include a vertical stone monolith were the final improvements made to the complex before Wright died.

Construction Period:
Original Physical Context:
Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

The main materials used in the construction of the Taliesin complex were multicolored volcanic rocks available on site, cement, white canvas and redwood. Overtime glass and plastic were incorporated into the site. The walls, parapets and substructures that comprised the complex were hand-built using volcanic rocks that were embedded in cement through a process called “desert masonry”. In this process the rocks were placed into a wooden form and cement was poured in and allowed to set. Once dried the wooden forms were stripped and reused to continue the wall as desired.
The roofs of the office, drafting and garden room, three of several rooms that comprise the main complex, were made out of sheets of canvas that were stretched over large redwood trusses. However, due to the fact that the canvas used on the roofs needed constant replacement and repair Wright began experimenting with different materials in order to find an appropriate replacement. Eventually, appropriate plastic materials that could hold up against the elements were incorporated into these structures.

Social:

Taliesin West served as an arts and architecture community as well as laboratory community based on Wright’s educational theories, architectural principles and vision of society. To Wright, architecture was “both reflective of society’s ills and a cause of them” which he felt could be remedied through “harmonious design and interdependent living”. At Taliesin, apprentices were expected to not only learn the principles of design and to build and experiment with their own buildings but also to contribute to the overall community by performing such tasks as cooking and cleaning. Wright also put a lot of emphasis on the arts, incorporating music, paintings, drama and philosophy into the Taliesin experience. Wright’s holistic approach to architectural design and society are continued today by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and his school of architecture.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
Historical:

Considered one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s greatest architectural masterpieces, Taliesin West served as his winter home, office and studio from 1937 until his death in 1959. It also functioned as the winter headquarters for his architecture school the Taliesin Fellowship and serves as an embodiment of Wright’s educational theories, architectural principles and vision of society.

General Assessment:
Documentation
Text references:

Debbie Abele, Don Meserve. CASE NUMBERS 6-HP-2005/21-ZN-2005:TALIESIN WEST HP OVERLAY ZONING MAP AMENDMENT. Scottsdale, Arizona Historic Preservation Commission Staff Report on Taliesin West, Scottsdale: Historic Preservation Commission of Scottsdale, Arizona, 2006.

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. 2010. http://www.franklloydwright.org/fllwf_web_091104/How_to_Give.html (accessed January 28, 2011).

Hess, Alan. Frank Lloyd Wright : the buildings . New York: Rizzoli, 2008.

Howard, Hugh. Wright for Wright. New York: Rizzoli/St. Martin's Press, 2001.

Lucas, Suzette A. Taliesin West: in the realm of ideas. Scottsdale: Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, 1993.

National Historic Landmarks Program: National Parks Service. December 9, 2010. http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=1425&ResourceType=Building (accessed January 28, 2011).

National Park Service. "National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: Taliesin West." National Parks Service, 1984.

Nolan, Karen. "Taliesin West put on track for 'historic' designation." AZ central.com. November 17, 2005. http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/1117sr-taliesin17... (accessed January 28, 2011).

Nolan, Kate. "Part of Taliesin West Headed for Historical Register." AZ Central.com. April 18, 2008. http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2008/04/18/20080418netaliesin0418... (accessed January 28, 2011).

—. "Taliesin West zoning plan at issue." AZ Central. com. November 9, 2006. http://www.azcentral.com/abgnews/articles/1109abg-sr-zoning1109.html (accessed January 28, 2011).

Pfeiffer, Bruce Brooks. Frank Lloyd Wright Selected Houses 3: Taliesin West. Tokyo: A.D.A EDITA, 1989.

"Scottsdale Arizona.gov ." Scottsdale Historic Register. 2011.

http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/historiczoning/historicregister (accessed January 28, 2011).

Smith, Kathryn. Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin and Taliesin West. New York: Harry N. Abrams, INC., Publishers, 1997.

Stoller, Ezra. Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999.

"The list of National Historic Landmarks Theme Studies: Frank Lloyd Wright Study." National Historic Landmarks Program: National Park Service. November 16, 2010. http://www.nps.gov/history/nhl/themes/themes-allnew.htm (accessed January 28, 2011).

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Kenisha R. Thomas/February 2, 2011

Marin County Civic Center

Added by jon buono, last update: October 14, 2011, 8:12 pm

Marin County Civic Center
Frank Lloyd Wright's Concept for the Marin County Civic Center., source: Marin County Library
Location
3201 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903
United States
37° 59' 48.6168" N, 122° 31' 43.2696" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Administration (ADM)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

The original purpose of the Marin County Civic Center was to consolidate the government officials, offices, and other resources of Marin County. In addition, the Civic Center site was meant to serve as a recreation center for the region. Wright planned theaters, exhibition halls, and other public facilities at the civic center in hope that it would become a true suburban center.

Located just off Highway 101, the Marin County Civic Center serves as the government and cultural center of Marin County in northern California.

When Frank Lloyd Wright died on April 9, 1959, plans for the Administration Building, the Hall of Justice, and the Library (which connected the two wings) had been approved as well as preliminary plans for a theater, auditorium, fairground pavilion, and lagoon. Although the construction of other buildings on site had been endorsed before Frank Lloyd Wright died, of the structures that have been built, only three can be attributed to him: the Administration Building and Hall of Justice which are connected by the Wright-designed Library, and the U.S. Post Office. The original master plan for the site was designed by Wright; however, this was not fully realized in the final design of the Civic Center.

Dates: Commission / Completion:Frank Lloyd Wright accepted his 770th commission to design the Marin County Civic Center on July 30, 1957.
Architectural and other Designer(s): Frank Lloyd Wright; Aaron Green, Taliesen Associated Architects; Wesley Peters, Taliesen Associated Architects; William Schwarz, Taliesen Associated Architects; DMJM
Others associated with Building/Site: Marin County Board of Supervisors
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): In 1994, the new County Jail designed by DMJM with input from Aaron Green, one of the original architects working on the project, was completed. This structure is the last new building to have been constructed within the complex. The jail is seen by some as an alteration of the Civic Center site. The jail was constructed because the county was under court order to improve prison conditions. The punishment for not doing so would have resulted in steep cuts in state funding for the region. In 1998, the original men's and women's jail located in the Hall of Justice was retrofitted to serve as modern office space for county employees. Although the Civic Center survived a 7.1 magnitude earthquake with no visible damage in 1989, there was a concern that the building's long term stability could be affected by such a natural disaster. Therefore the need for a seismic retrofit of the Administration Building and the Hall of Justice was deemed necessary, and the project was completed in 2003. Although a major undertaking, the building's architectural integrity was considered throughout the building process.
Current Use: Currently, the site is utilized with its original function and intention as the civic center for Marin County, California.
Current Condition: During the past few years, portions of the Marin County Civic Center have undergone various restoration projects. In 1999, conservation funding for the Civic Center complex had reached $28 million dollars; however, $24 million of that was used for the seismic retrofit, which could be classified as an alteration to the building as opposed to a conservation measure. Regardless, some restoration work of the building has been undertaken, including the restoration of the Administration Building's 172' gold tower (completed in 2002) and recoating the roof with blue polyurethane. In 2004, the architectural firm of Mark Cavagnero Associates was hired to develop a new master plan for the site. As the firm states on their website, "due to deterioration of the facilities and the change in the nature of the site uses, the site is underdeveloped and in need of renovation." Therefore, the firm wished to build upon Frank Lloyd Wright's original design intentions while taking into account the nature and uses of the site today.
General Description:

Wright's cojoined Administration Building and Hall of Justice are the architectural showpieces on the Marin County Civic Center complex. The 800' long Administration Building and the 580' long Hall of Justice are connected by the Library, a

"The Marin County Civic Center is composed of two buildings, the 580-foot
long Administration Building and the 880-foot long Hall of Justice, which
are set at a slight angle to each other and joined together by a central
rotunda 80 feet in diameter. The rounded ends of the buildings are built
into the sides of two low hills. The main entrance drive passes through an
archway on the ground level of the Administration Building; the Hall of
Justice has two archways, one over the road leading to a back parking lot
and one providing access to the county jail. The separation of access is
primarily for security reasons. The roadways follow the contours of the
site and provide access to parking lots as well as circulation around the
whole site and to the fairgrounds. The U.S. Post Office is located near
the main entrance to the grounds on San Pedro Road." - NAT REGISTER NOMINATION
"The Marin County Civic Center complex is composed of two long wings
set at a 120 degree angle to each other and hinged together by a rotunda
with a shallow dome backed by a 172-foot, triangular tower. The form of
this complex embodies Wright's belief in democratic values that place
human services above the regulatory instruments of government. This belief
is expressed by the visual dominance of the Administration wing, which,
although shorter than the Hall of Justice wing faces the main access road
so that most of the cars pass through its single broad arch on the way to
the main parking lot and other parts of the grounds. Beneath the dome,
which is the pivotal element of the plan, is the county library; the
adjacent tower was originally meant to transmit radio programs. Thus,
the two branches of government meet at the place of dissemination of
knowledge and information. Since this central node is also backed by a
terrace with a pool outside the cafeteria where employees may relax or
eat, "the power and authority of the state ... find their raison d'etre
in the wisdom of the citizenry from which, architecturally at least, their
expressions emanate."(l) - SAME
"The United States Post Office building, which stands near the
entrance to the civic center grounds off San Pedro Road is a onestory,
eliptical building in plan, which faces south. The building
has a flat roof hidden by a parapet and is constructed of reinforced
concrete block masonry painted the same color as the civic center
complex. A broad, round-arched canopy is cantilevered from the facade
above a glazed wall divided into five sections by metal mullions,
which has double, glazed entrance doors at each end. This entrance
porch is approached by four steps which compose a base rounded at the
ends where it joins the building. Originally, a large plastic globe
of the world was mounted on a pole centered outside the glazed wall.
Over time the plastic deteriorated and the globe was removed. This is
the only alteration to the building. The cast-concrete canopy is
embellished with a band of indented, circle motifs running across the
cornice. On the back side of the building is a recessed loading dock,
which is sheltered by a projecting canopy. Each of the curved walls
flanking the loading dock has two round windows. The interior is
divided into a mailroom on the north side and an eliptical lobby on
the south side. The lobby is separated from the mailroom by a wall
divided into a section for mail boxes and a counter area." -NAT REG

Construction Period:

"Both the three-story Administration Building and the four-story Hall" - NAT REGISTER

Original Physical Context:

Constructed over a span of nearly 25 years, the complex is comprised of six buildings as well as natural landscapes, park land, and water features.
"The master plan for the site respects its topography. The buildings,
hills, roads, parking areas, lagoon, and prominent landscape
features were linked together to facilitate the movement of people and
automobiles. The north portion of the site was set aside for the
county fairgrounds. Various features of the fairground that Wright
designed for example, the amphitheatre--were altered or never built;
the lagoon is the major surviving feature of this part of the grounds.
A landscape plan prepared by Aaron Green working with Frank Lloyd
Wright is attached; it shows a disposition of trees and other vegetation
that remains largely intact. Pine trees are dominant around the
building complex; many varieties of non-native trees, including oaks,
poplars, willows, occur around the site. The hilltop at the south end
of the Administration Building, which has a terrace outside the
entrance to the top floor, is planted with native plants as a specimen
landscape." _NAT REG
"Three structures on the site do not contribute to the district.
They are: a garage of 1971, which stands on the lower, northwest
portion of the site near Route 101 where the county fair pavilion was
planned; the Veterans Auditorium and associated exhibition buildings,
which were designed by the Taliesin Fellowship/Taliesin Associated
Architects tp be stylistically compatible with the civic center
buildings and completed in 1971. The approximately 81.5 acres of the
site that fall within the dotted line on the attached site map may
have a high degree of integrity and convey Frank Lloyd Wright's
intentions.for the expression of democracy in a design that integrates
architecture and landscape." - NAT REG

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

Although Frank Lloyd Wright is known for his innovation in construction materials and design, it seems the Marin County Civic Center does not warrant significance from the technical standpoint. The method of construction here is similar to that of other buildings constructed before the center.

Social:

The Marin County Civic Center is significant in terms of the social history of Marin County. By the middle of the 1950s, a drastic change of both the demographics and politics of Marin County had taken place. Before this period of time, Marin County had a very small population which was run by an exclusive clique of elected officials. However, during World War II, this area just north of San Francisco was heavily settled by new migrants, those of whom were needed to build ships for the United States Armed Forces. This newly arrived population brought with them new political ideals, which lead to the election of the first woman to the County Board of Supervisors in 1953, Vera Schultz. The newly elected official spearheaded an effort to reorganize the county government from a piecemeal organization of small local city governments with separate budgets to a county administrator form of government, resulting in a centralized power. The Marin County Civic Center is a product of the new governmental organization of the region.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
As Frank Lloyd Wright's 770th and final commission, the Marin County Civic Center warrants cultural and aesthetic significance. His first civic structure, it was the only commission in which Mr. Wright was truly able to create the "architecture for democracy" of which he was a proponent. In designing the Civic Center, Mr. Wright hoped, "Maybe we can show government how to operate better as a result of better architecture." Additionally, the Marin County Civic Center is significant because of the design's relationship to nature. Immediately after Wright was appointed to design the center, he spoke at a town meeting about the project stating, "Marin County has everything. The buildings of the new Civic Center will express this natural beauty; they will not be a blemish upon the landscape." This sentiment is furthered by Wright seeing the site for the first time, upon which he remarked, "It's as beautiful as California can have. I know exactly what I'm going to do here. I'll build these hills with graceful arches." --- "For Wright, the location of this governmental complex in a suburban area endowed with gentle hills and valleys and removed from any dense urban center, was the perfect setting for the partial realization of Broadacre City, his American Utopia. A drawing published in The Living City, 1958, captioned "Typical street view at the Civic Center", shows part of a structure that echoes the Marin County Civic Center complex in its fenestration, use of arches, and drive-through archway on the ground level. The drawing was one in a last series of Broadacre City studies that collected into one setting many of Wright's favorite works as, for example, the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, which also appears in the distance in this drawing. Finally, Wright's unerring ability to marry buildings to their sites here led to one of his most striking solutions. In having the two building wings bridge the valleys between three hills, he also recalled revered works of classical antiquity such as the Roman acqueduct at the Pont du Card. This composition also confirmed his statement, "The good building is ... .one that makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before ..." The rhythmic, low-lying structure complements the landscape and offers a serenely human vision devoid of the hierarchical expression of power so recognizable in traditional 19th and early 20th century centers of civic authority." -NAT REG
Historical:
General Assessment:
Marin County Civic Center is significant on a social and historical level as well as a cultural and aesthetic level. Although Frank Lloyd Wright passed away before the complex was completed, his building designs as well as his master plan certainly guided the construction and design process of the complex as a whole. The three structures which were not planned by Frank Lloyd Wright were still influenced by his original intention. Veterans Auditorium and Marin Center Exhibit Hall were both designed by Taliesen Associated Architects, Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural firm. Although the last structure, the County Jail was designed by DMJM, the project was still influenced by Aaron Green, the architect who had worked in conjunction with Frank Lloyd Wright from the beginning of the project until his resignation in 1972. --- The Marin County Civic Center is Frank Lloyd Wright's last major work and is the only project of his only realized project for a government building. It is his largest constructed public commission and one of the crowning works of his long preoccupation with organic architecture, which he defined and redefined from the 1930s to the end of his life. In addition, the building contributes to the broad pattern of the evolution of the form of government buildings in the United States. The US Post Office building, which stands near the entrance to the civic center grounds, is the only federal commission ever executed by Wright. ---- "The Administration Building/Hall of Justice complex of the Marin County Civic Center is the last major work of Frank Lloyd Wright, the greatest 20th century American Architect. The civic center complex is the largest constructed public project of Wright's career and the only one for a governmental jurisdiction. Also located on the grounds of the civic center is a U.S. Post Office, which is the only federal commission ever executed by Wright, who, ironically, was the first architect to be represented on a postage stamp. The civic center is one of the finest expressions of "organic architecture", a concept that Wright labeled as his own. The history of the Marin County Civic Center also contributes importantly to the broad pattern of the evolution of the form of government buildings in the United States."
Documentation
Text references:

Book, Carl F. "Preservation of Marin County Civic Center of Concern to Local Residents." Bulletin: The Quarterly Newsletter of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy 7 (1998): 5.

"Buildings for Democracy: The Mildred and Stanley Rosenbaum House and Marin County Civic Center." Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly 15 (2004): 4-21.

Carey & Co. Inc. http://www.careyandco.com/marincivic.htm. 15 February 2010.

Fimrite, Peter. Marin County Workers to go to Jail to Get Work. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1998/08/19/MN30077.DTL. 15 February 2010.

Fimrite, Peter. Turning Blue: At Marin County Civic Center, All That Glitters isnít Gold. http://articles.sfgate.com/2000-03-09/news/17641115_1_wright-auldbrass-p.... 15 February 2010.

Green, Aaron G. An Architecture for Democracy: Marin County Civic Center. California: Grendon Publishing, 1990.

Hess, Alan. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Buildings. New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publications, 2008.

Historic Sites in Marin County. www.noehill.com. 1 March 2010.

Ed. Sol Kliczkowski. Frank Lloyd Wright. Glouster, MA: Rockport Publishers, Inc., 2003.

Land and Living Network. www.landliving.com. 1 March 2010.

Levine, Neil. The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.

Marin County Civic Center Website. http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/CU/Main/flw/cctourarch.cfm. 14 February 2010.

Marin County Civic Center Chronology. http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/lb/main/crm/chronology.html. 15 February 2010.

Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects. www.cavagnero.com. 1 March 2010.

MoreMarin.com. http://www.moremarin.com/buzzhome/2009/06/moment-in-history-marin-county.... 15 February 2010.

National Register of Historic Places Website. www.nps.gov/nr/. 1 March 2010.
Nesmith, Lynn. "Wright Done Wrong." Architecture 79 (1990): 35.

Rand, George. "A Civic Center and Its Civitas: Marin County Civic Center." AIA Journal 69 (1980): 46-57.

Shaw, Alison. Seismic Retrofit of the Marin County Hall of Justice Using Steel Buckling & Restrained Brace Frames. SEAOC Convention, 2000.

"Wright Ship of State." Progressive Architecture 48 (1967): 30.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Kimberly DeMuro / March 2010 kmd2147@columbia.edu
Additional Images
Marin County Civic Center
The Administration Building upon Completion., Source: Marin County Library

Hollyhock House

Added by DSpear, last update: August 17, 2012, 1:54 pm

Hollyhock House
Location
4800 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
United States
34° 6' 6.3504" N, 118° 17' 40.254" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Residential (RES)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):

U.S. National Register of Historic Places (National Park Service), added May 6, 1971. U.S. National Historic Landmark, designated April 4, 2007. L.A. Historic-Cultural Monument #12, adopted January 4, 1963.

History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

Hollyhock House was built for the wealthy oil heiress Aline Barnsdall from 1919 to 1921. The house is named after Barnsdall’s favorite flower - the hollyhock - which Wright used as a central decorative theme throughout the house. In his autobiography, Wright expressed his desire to create a unique architecture for the location: “Hollyhock House was to be a natural house in the changed circumstances and naturally built; native to the region of California as the house in the Middle West had been native Middle West.” The Hollyhock House is part of a larger site, Olive Hill, purchased by Barnsdall to also include a repertory theater company and public performance space. Wright was living in Tokyo, Japan and working on the Imperial Hotel while the house was constructed. He delegated the supervision of the project to his son Lloyd Wright and R.M. Schindler.

Dates: Commission / Completion:Ca. 1916 / September 1921
Architectural and other Designer(s): Frank Lloyd Wright
Others associated with Building/Site: R.M. Schindler, Lloyd Wright
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): 1924-1925: R.M. Schindler adds the fountain, flower box, wading pool, and pergola. 1927: The California Art Club remodels the home including the removal of partition and bathrooms between two guest bedrooms to create a gallery. 1946-1948: The first major renovation occurs under the supervision of Lloyd Wright for Dorothy Murray. The kitchen was remodeled, cabinets were built into west wall of the reception room, new stairs to new basement restrooms were added, trellis work was added to the east side of the loggia, a clerestory was constructed, and the playroom was turned into open porch. 1967-1970: The Recreation and Parks Department renovates the Hollyhock House after a substructure investigation found substantial termite and dry-rot damage. Much of the floor system was replaced. Exterior walls and many of the hollyhock ornaments were repaired. 1974-1975: Lloyd Wright renovates Hollyhock House for the City of Los Angeles in order to restore it to its original design at a cost of more than $500,000. 1990: Wright's custom-designed living room furniture was replicated and installed in its proper location. 2000: The Hollyhock House closes for a multi-year restoration costing $10 million. 2005-2007: Work continues on the house. Crews seismically retrofit the upper portion of home and repair leaky roofs.
Current Use: The Hollyhock House is open to the public. The Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of Los Angeles manages Barnsdall Park and the Hollyhock House. Tours of the house are offered Wednesday through Sunday. Admission charged.
Current Condition: The Hollyhock House has undergone several major renovations to restore it to its original condition and improve its resilience to southern California’s weather and earthquakes.
General Description:

Reflecting the Mediterranean climate of Los Angeles, the Hollyhock House’s design melds exterior and interior living space through terraces for each room. An intricate circulation pattern is built around an inner courtyard. Wright designed the furniture for the dining room and the living room, as well as geometrically patterned art glass for the windows. The hearth in the living room is built of concrete block in contrast to the use of brick in Wright’s earlier designs. The fireplace also has an elaborately designed bas-relief and is surrounded by a small moat, thus incorporating the elements of earth, water, fire, and air.

Construction Period:

Set on a cast-concrete base, the Hollyhock house has canted walls of hollow terra-cotta tile covered with stucco. Ornamentation including stylized hollyhocks are made of cast-concrete. Masonry walls covered with stucco extend out from the major ground floor rooms to enclose terraces.

Original Physical Context:

In June of 1919, Barnsdall purchased the 36 acre Olive Hill property for $300,000. Several years before closing on the property, she had commissioned Wright to build her home, a performance theater, as well as a furnished house for the theater company director (“Residence A”) and an apartment building for the actors (“Residence B”). Barnsdall became disenchanted with maintaining the property and convinced that her theater would not become the cultural center she dreamed of. In December of 1923, she offered the Hollyhock House and the surrounding land to the City of Los Angeles for use as a public park. It was not until 1927 that the city accepted Barnsdall’s offer under revised terms. As a condition to her donation, Barnsdall lived in Residence B on the Olive Hill property on and off from 1928 to her death in 1946.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:
Social:
Cultural & Aesthetic:
Historical:

Ada Louise Huxtable writes that the Hollyhock House has “no established or identifiable style” and bears the influences of “Aztec, Mayan, Egyptian, and Mexican pre-Columbian” architecture. In particular, the upper exterior walls pitched at 85 degrees are reminiscent of Mayan architecture. During the early 20th Century, pre-Columbian excavations were underway, sparking an interest in these ancient civilizations. Wright saw exhibits of pre-Columbia architecture as early as 1893 at Chicago’s world fair and in 1915 at the Panama-Pacific Exposition. Wright was silent on the issue of the home’s historical influences, preferring that his work not be seen as derivative but rather as a completely new indigenous form of architecture which he coined “California Romanza”.

General Assessment:
Documentation
Text references:

Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings, UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, Submited by U.S. Department of Interior, January 2008.; Friends of Hollyhock House website, Hollyhock House History; Available at http://www.hollyhockhouse.net/hhhistory.html.; Hoffmann, Donald. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House. New York: Dover Publications, 1992.; Huxtable, Ada Louise. Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: Penguin Group, 2004.; Karasick, Norman M. Art, politics, and Hollyhock House. 1982.; Lind, Carla. Frank Lloyd Wright’s California houses. San Francisco: Pomegranate Artbooks, 1996.; Steele, James. Barnsdall House: Frank Lloyd Wright. London: Phaidon, 1992.; Smith, Kathryn. Frank Lloyd Wright, Hollyhock House and Olive Hill: buildings and projects for Aline Barnsdall. New York: Rizzoli, 1992.; Rabin, Jeffrey L. “Hollyhock House Restoration Starts”, Los Angeles Times, April 10, 2000.; Wright, Frank Lloyd. An autobiography. New York: Horizon Press, 1977.; Storrer, William Allin. The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: A Complete Catalog.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Daniel Spear / March 5, 2009

S. C. Johnson Wax Company Administration Building and Research Tower

Added by LYounce, last update: August 17, 2012, 1:35 pm

S. C. Johnson Wax Company Administration Building and Research Tower
Location
1525 Howe St.
Racine, WI 53403
United States
42° 42' 55.476" N, 87° 47' 29.598" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Administration (ADM)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

By the spring of 1936, the Johnson and Sons Wax Company had outgrown its offices and began looking for an architect to design a new facility for the company. J. Mandor Matson was subsequently hired and designed a rather uninspired Beaux Arts building. Ground was to be broken on Matson’s building in July of 1936; however Herbert Johnson was not entirely convinced by the design so Johnson’s advertising manager William Connolley and his general manager, Jack Ramsey, drove to meet with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. The meeting with Wright went well and Ramsey wrote to Johnson urging him to meet Wright as well which Johnson did later that month on July 20. After their meeting, Johnson was convinced enough to hand the commission for his new office building over to Wright. At the end of August, Wright presented his drawings to Johnson. He presented only eighteen to twenty drawings in order to express the overall simplicity of the project in the construction set. In October, after reviewing Wright’s designs for the new office building, Ramsey wrote to Wright asking that not all the interior walls be brick as in the Larkin building because Johnson was concerned that the effect would be jarring. Wright, however, did not concede. Throughout the design and construction process, as was the case with the interior brick façade, Wright’s concepts for the Johnson Wax Company Administration Building went unchanged even when it required that he request a change to Wisconsin’s building code in order to allow his design for the building’s infamous mushroom columns.

Dates: Commission / Completion:Wright was awarded the commission for the administration building in July, 1936. Work was begun on the administration building in October, 1936. The administration building was opened on April 21, 1939.
Architectural and other Designer(s): Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright Landscape/garden designer: Same Consulting engineer: Wesley W. Peters and Mendel Glickman Building contractor: Ben Wiltscheck
Others associated with Building/Site: Original owner: Johnson Wax Company Name: Herbert F. Johnson, President
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): Types of changes: The addition of the research tower, east wing expansion, and replacement of the skylights’ Pyrex tubing. Dates: Wright began designs for the research tower in November 1943, work was begun on the research tower in November, 1947 and the tower was opened on November 17, 1950. The addition of office space over the east wing of the tower carport was begun in 1960 and completed in 1961. Pyrex tubing was replaced in 1957. Circumstances/reasons for changes: The research tower was added to the administration building to accommodate the growing needs of the company’s research and development department and the east wing expansion was needed to provide more office spaces for the growing company. The Pyrex tubing was experiencing severe leakage problems which necessitated their replacement. Effects of changes: When discussing the possibility of an addition to the administration building in 1936, Wright had suggested that if there ever was one it would be tower. Thus the addition of the tower was in a sense the completion of Wright’s conceptual design for the Johnson Wax Company’s headquarters. In 1947 Herbert Johnson had asked Wright how he might expand the complex if additional office space was ever need to which Wright suggested a two-story addition to the tower carport with a light well running down the center terminating with round conference rooms. Plans were drawn up and approved by Wright, but when time came to build after his death, the light well was discarded in favor of more square footage for offices. Although the form of the addition was approved by Wright, the elimination of the light well seriously changed the character of the space which Wright had intended. The Pyrex tubing was replaced by specially molded sheets of plexiglass which visually resemble the previous tubing system. However, upon their replacement ,a layer of fiberglass was placed over the plexiglass with street lamps installed between the two layers in order to give the illusion that natural light was still penetrating through the skylights. The effect of this replacement of natural light with artificial light has severely changed the interior character of the building.
Current Use: The administration building remains the international headquarters for the Johnson Wax Company. Due to fire safety issues the research tower is no longer used and remains vacant.
Current Condition: The buildings are in excellent condition and remain unaltered since the last addition in the 1960s.
General Description:

The administration building is set back from the streets by 14 feet on each side and comprises a large open workroom surrounding with an entrance on the long side of the building to which a balcony overlooks. A rooftop penthouse of offices, which at its center is open to the workroom below, and two curved office wings are placed symmetrically over this two-story entrance lobby with office support facilities placed over the carport. The administration building is faced entirely in brick on both the exterior and interior walls. It is windowless and is lit by skylights and strips of translucent Pyrex tubing. The research tower is fifteen stories tall and comprises a series of square floors and circular mezzanine levels. The façade of the building is created through a wrapping of alternating horizontal bands of brick and Pyrex tubing.

Construction Period:

The administration building is constructed of wire mesh reinforced concrete slab and tapered mushroom columns. The research center is also of reinforced concrete with its floors cantilevered from a central hollow core.

Original Physical Context:

The Johnson Wax complex is located in the heart of Racine and is surrounded on all sides by city streets. It is situated between industrial sites and residential neighborhoods and is seven blocks west of Lake Michigan. Red brick is the prevalent material choice in this area.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

Wright promised Johnson a building that would make him feel as if he were bathing in sunlight among pine trees, which he accomplished with the use of his “mushroom” columns. These columns taper up to support circular slabs which form the ceiling with the spaces between the circular slabs filled with translucent glass tubing thus effectively creating a man-made forest open to the sky. Additionally, by supporting the roof of the Great Workroom on the columns, clerestories of five feet in width could be included, thereby adding even more light to the space. The design of the columns themselves did not meet local building code requirements and so the Industrial Commission, being unable to decide whether or not to allow their construction, decided to have a test column built and loaded in order to observe its bearing capacity. The famous testing of the column was held in June of 1937 and after it had held the required twelve tons needed to satisfy the commissioners, Wright had the column loaded until there was no more room left to pile loads; it held sixty tons. The design of the research tower involved a coupling of a square floor and round mezzanine level. Although the vertical layout did not favor casual communication that was considered necessary for the spread of ideas, the two-story spaces provided scientists with psychological amenities as the researchers would not be confined to small two-person laboratories but rather were open to the amount of space equivalent to five smaller laboratories, as well as an abundance of light. To accomplish this, Wright conceived of the tower as a cantilevered system in which the reinforced slabs which taper from a maximum thickness at the point where the slab meets the hollow core.

Social:

The Johnson Wax Company proved to be an ideal client with ideals that paralleled Wright’s ideas that a company should not introduce products simply to gain the lead among its competitors but rather should only sell those products that were both innovative and would benefit the client. In addition to possessing these types of business principles, the company had a sense of respect for their employees with a “no layoff” policy as well as paid vacations, forty-hour workweeks (unusual at the time), and a profit-sharing system. This attitude toward the betterment of workers was clearly integrated into Wright’s design for the Great Workroom, a large space in which all clerical workers from each department were to share a common space in order to encourage cooperation. Wright considered work to have a spiritual value and designed the building to inspire work much like a cathedral might inspire worship and felt that making an environment that employees could be proud of would also inspire productivity. In the space’s multistory volume with its abundance of natural light, Wright provided this pleasant and inspiring working environment that had financial implications as the company’s office operations improved by 15 to 25 percent. Wright recalled later that the employees enjoyed the space so much that they often chose to spend their lunches in the building rather than leave to have lunch at home.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
The choice of common brick for both the exterior and interior walls of the building was made by Wright in order to make the walls as monolithic as possible responding to his ideas toward an organic design where form didn’t follow function and function didn’t follow form but rather the function and form were made to be inseparable from each other. The specific choice of dark red brick for the buildings was in response to the surrounding neighborhood’s use of a similar brick color. In removing all punctured windows from the building’s facades, Wright claimed that he was using bricks as bricks rather than glass as bricks. The interaction between the tower and the columned hall has been seen to have its precedence in ecclesiastical architecture rather than in office buildings. Japanese religious complexes bear the strongest comparisons with their emphasis on horizontality and their form of a colonnaded single story structure surrounding a quiet courtyard and the prayer pagoda.
Historical:

Both the administration building and research tower were enthusiastically received by the public and the Johnson Wax Company employees alike. It was praised for both its overall quality of construction and its innovations in architectural and engineering design. In 1979, S.C. Johnson’s president, Samuel Johnson, spoke of how the company transformed the day that Wright’s building opened because it was through the building that the company gained international attention and inherited a symbol of quality that translated to their products and the working environment as well.

General Assessment:
The design and construction of the JWC allowed Wright the opportunity to explore his ideas for the ideal working environment as well as his sense that form and function should be combined into one cohesive building that imbues a desire for productivity in its occupants. The buildings also stand as a great example of Wright’s continual structural innovations throughout his career and earmark his leap to a more streamlined version of modern architecture.
Documentation
Text references:

Carter, Brian, Johnson Wax Administration Building and Research Tower, London; Phaidon Press; 1998.

Lipman, Jonathon, Frank Lloyd Wright and the Johnson Wax buildings, New York; Rizzoli, 1986.

National Park Service, National Historic Landmarks Program, http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=1521&ResourceType=Building

Authoring
Recorder/Date:
Additional Images
S. C. Johnson Wax Company Administration Building and Research Tower

Unity Temple

Added by Janine Wilkosz, last update: August 17, 2012, 12:55 pm

Unity Temple
Location
875 Lake Street
Oak Park, IL 60301
United States
41° 53' 18.978" N, 87° 47' 48.5808" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Religion (REL)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

In 1901, the congregation of Unity Church in Oak Park, IL under the leadership of Rev. Rodney Johonnot decided to build a new structure to house their growing congregation as well as a Sunday school and meeting room. At the time, the village of Oak Park was expanding as well, and “between 1900 and 1906, six new congregations were founded and seven new church edifices were constructed” (Siry 59). Fundraising began and in December 1904, Rev. Johonnot appealed to the congregation for increased funding. Six months later Unity Church was struck by lighting and burnt to the ground. With this immediate need for a new facility, four committees were created to oversee fundraising, site selection, plan selection, and architect selection. In August 1905, a plot of land was purchased along Lake Street that was owned by a wealthy patron of the church, Edwin Gale.

In September 1905, Frank Lloyd Wright was chosen as the architect for the new church. Wright, his wife, mother, and two sisters were all parishioners of Unity Church. Wright was a well known architect in the church for having designed homes for other parishioners and residents of Oak Park, including Edwin Gale, the previous owner of the site where the new facility would be built. Charles E. Roberts, who was on the committee of architect selection, was a well known supporter of Wright, and it was through this strong connection that Wright claims he received the commission.

On December 17, 1905, Wright showed his first plans for Unity Temple to the committee. The final set of drawings was not accepted until February 24, 1906, after issues with the seating arrangement in the auditorium and financial issues were worked out. On May 15 1906, ground was broken and a month later Rev. Johonnot published a brochure which gave a detailed description of Unity Temple including Wright’s drawings. Since Unity Temple was built using reinforced concreted, a new building material, Wright altered construction techniques which only structurally modified Unity Temple. Although Rev. Johonnot had hoped that the structure would be
completed within one year, construction took a little over two years and was finished in October 1908.

Dates: Commission / Completion:Commission: September 1905 (c) / Completion: October 1908 (c)
Architectural and other Designer(s): Frank Lloyd Wright, architect; Richard Bock, sculptor
Others associated with Building/Site:
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): 1901 (c): The congregation of Unity Church in Oak Park, IL decides to build a new structure. December 1904 (a): Rev. Rodney appeals to the congregation for increased funding for the new church. June 6, 1905 (e): The original 1871 Gothic revival church burns to the ground after being struck by lightning. June 9, 1905 (e): The trustees of the church appoint four committees in planning to build their new church: ways and means for raising funds, location selection, plan and architect selection, and construction. August 1905 (a): The site on Lake Street is chosen. September 16, 1905 (e): The committee chooses Frank Lloyd Wright as their architect. December 17, 1905 (e): Wright presents his first plans for Unity Temple to the committee. February 24, 1906 (e): A final design is accepted by the committee. May 15, 1906 (e): Construction begins on Unity Temple. October 1908 (a): Unity Temple is completed. 1938(c): William Drummond informs Wright that Unity Temple’s cantilevers are sagging, the rebar within the concrete is exposed and rusting in certain areas, and cracks have formed along the overhangs. 1961(c): The national Universalist and Unitarian churches merge and the Unity Temple, now The Unitarian-Universalist Church, uses its own funds restore the building. The roofs are repaired, classrooms partitioned, interior repainted earthen tones, and the exterior is resurfaced with Albitol. 1966 (c): The original coat rooms beneath the auditorium are replaced with classrooms and bathrooms. 1967 (c): Unity Temple begins a tour program to help bring in necessary funds for restoration. 1968 (c): The skylights are restored. 1969 (c): An article by Henry Wright about Unity Temple’s restoration prompts Edgar J. Kaufmann Jr. to match the funds raised over a three year period which allows for an extensive restoration effort. January 1971 (a): After a fire, the interior walls are repainted and woodwork stripped and refinished. March 1971 (a): The U.S. Department of the Interior designates Unity Temple a National Historic Landmark. 1972 (c): Roofs are repaired for a second time. 1973 (c): The Unity Temple Restoration Foundation is created. 1973-74 (c): The exterior is refinished again: Albitol sandblasted and Gunnite is applied. This exterior more closely matches the original. The concrete flower boxes are reconstructed. 1979 (c): After paint analysis, the interior is repainted to match Wright’s original color scheme. 1982 (c): Third reroofing. 1984 (c): Unity Temple’s seventy-fifth anniversary. Woodwork is cleaned, plaster repaired, and the entrance’s original colors are restored. 1987 (c): Interior surfaces are reexamined to determine original colors. The Unity Temple Restoration Foundation commissions a report on the building’s condition. 1988 (c): The roof slabs are analyzed. Art glass begins to be repaired and restored. Preservation easement granted to Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois.
Current Use: Unity Temple continues to function as a house of worship, Sunday school, and meeting place for the Unitarian-Universalist congregation in Oak Park, IL.
Current Condition: The restoration effort is on-going and with the exception of the replacement of the coat rooms with bathrooms and classrooms, the original fabric has been restored or maintained as to Wright’s original conception.
General Description:

Unity Temple is actually two buildings, Unity House and Unity Temple, connected via one entry hall. Unity House contains classrooms and meeting rooms, while Unity Temple is the house of worship. Unity House is slightly smaller in scale than Unity Temple, but both buildings are cubic forms with flat slab roofs.
Both buildings are constructed from reinforced concrete which gives the structures a flat, although textured gray surface.

Construction Period:

Reinforced concrete, steel frame used for balconies.

Original Physical Context:

Oak Park, located 8 miles outside of Chicago, was fighting being annexed into the city ca. 1900. Oak Park wanted to assert their own identity as a religiously minded community. Lake Street, the main thoroughfare in the town where the street cars ran, contained a high concentration of religious structures which served to display the beliefs of Oak Park. It was in this location that Unity Temple was built.
In his autobiography, Wright discussed the noisy nature of the street as the reasoning for moving the entry way off of the main street. Unity Temple was also moving to Lake street to assert its identity in Oak Park as a strong Unitarian and Universalist congregation in the town.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

Unity Temple, including ornament, was entirely constructed from reinforced concrete which was cast in wooden molds. None of the structural steel is visible. Originally Wright wanted concrete with a crushed limestone aggregate for the upper walls, piers, bearing walls and column footings. The beams and floors were to be a lighter concrete mixed with cinder. Once realized that the wall surfaces and cores could be poured as a whole, the limestone aggregate was replaced by cinder and reinforced with steel rods. The concrete was poured in layers of six inches to ensure solidity and that the aggregate would not separate out. Wright used a mortar finish that was applied to the interior of the molds. Granite was the first choice, but gravel was used instead due to cost issues.
Oak is used on the interior and casein paint was applied to the plaster walls. Art glass was used in the skylights.

Social:

Unitarians and Universalists were at the forefront of liberal religions in the United States at the time Unity Temple was built. Rev. Johonnot felt that his congregation needed a building that expressed their liberal beliefs. A church did not have to adhere to the traditional basilica plan. Instead, the facility should be “multi-purpose” and include space for a school, meetings, dinners, and other events. Unity Temple married the two separate facilities by creating one entryway.
Unity Temple was innovative in its strong cubic forms and use of concrete. This was deliberate in expressing the liberal and “modern” beliefs of the Unitarian and Universalist religions. At a time when many congregations were forming in Oak Park and building new structures, Unity Temple was unique in its design and inhabited a prominent place on Lake Street to display the liberal religion's beliefs.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
Upon opening, Unity Temple was praised by the congregation for not only its wonderful accoustic properties but also design which expressed the liberal faith and successfully joined the school, place of worship, and meeting rooms. Outside of the intended users of the buildings, the design and the use of concrete was still praised. The move towards an ultra-functional building using new construction techniques was viewed as the epitome of modern architecture.
Historical:

The building is seen as a landmark in both technical and design aspects. Reinforced concrete and strong geometric forms were at the forefront of modern architecture at the time and Unity Temple was used as an inspiration for Wright in his later designs as well as other architects.

General Assessment:
Unity Temple, in Oak Park, IL, was a structure that needed to function in multiple ways and also express the liberal notions of the Unitarian-Universalist congregation.
Documentation
Text references:

Cowles, Linn Ann. An Index and Guide to “An Autobiography” the 1943 Edition by Frank Lloyd Wright. Hopkins, MN: Greenwich Design, 1976.

Johonnot, Dr. Rodney F. “The New Edifice of Unity Church, Oak Park, Illinois. Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect.” Oak Park, IL: New Unity Church Club, June 1906.

Siry, Joseph M. Unity Temple: Frank Lloyd Wright and Architecture for Liberal Religion. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

The Early Work of Frank Lloyd Wright: The “Ausgeführte Bauten” of 1911. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1982.

Wright, Frank Lloyd. Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1958.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Janine Wilkosz / March 6, 2008

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Added by Alan Gettner, last update: August 17, 2012, 1:05 pm

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Interior Ramps of the Rotunda, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, source: courtesy of Jorge Otero-Pailos, date: 2007
Location
1071 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10128-0173
United States
40° 46' 58.7244" N, 73° 57' 31.9212" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Education (EDC)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

Hilla Rebay, Solomon R. Guggenheim's artistic adviser, helped Guggenheim assemble his collection of modern art and convinced him to begin planning for a museum to house his collection. In 1943, she chose Frank Lloyd Wright and provided him with $21,000 to begin planning, even though a site had not yet been chosen. In August 1945, a design was unveiled to Mr. and Mrs. Guggenheim. Rebay's objective, seconded by Wright, involved construction of a museum to house Guggenheim's collection that rejected conventional museum architecture.

Dates: Commission / Completion:Commission: 1943 / Completion: October 1959.
Architectural and other Designer(s): Frank Lloyd Wright, architect. Holden, McLaughlin & Associates, New York architects. William Wesley Peters, architect (assisted Wright). Charles Middelear, landscape designer.
Others associated with Building/Site: Solomon R. Guggenheim, collector and primary funder. Harry F. Guggenheim, Solomon's nephew who headed Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation after Solomon's death in 1949. Hilla Rebay, Solomon Guggenheim's curator and first director of Museum, who chose Wright as architect. George N. Cohen, Euclid Contracting Corporation, builder.
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): James Johnson Sweeney, Director after Rebay, made numerous changes in Wight's plan prior to October 1959 opening. Conversion of second floor of administrative wing (the "Monitor") to house Thannhauser Collection, 1963, William Wesley Peters, Taliesin Associated Architects, architect. Construction of annex to house storage, offices and technical facilities (since demolished), 1968, William Wesley Peters, Taliesin Associated Architects, architect. Enclosure of driveway to create bookstore and restaurant, conversion of driveway outlet on 89th Street to service entrance and outdoor dining terrace. Alterations to entrance and Thannhauser wing, 1973-4, Donald E. Freed, architect. Creation of Reading Room and connection to rotunda, 1978, Richard Meier, architect. Construction of annex (replacing 1968 building) containing new galleries, storage, technical and administrative space. Various openings of new exhibition spaces to rotunda. Old administrative spaces in "monitor" converted to exhibition space. Renovation of main spaces. Cafe restored to original location. Other changes. 1994, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, architects.
Current Use: Art museum with usual support facilities.
Current Condition: Excellent. Extensive restoration of concrete structure nearing completion.
General Description:

The building, notwithstanding the alterations and additions that have taken place, is a prime example of the later work of Frank Lloyd Wright, manifesting his theory of "organic architecture" in the unity of building method, appearance and use. It is Wright's only complete building in New York City and is completely different from any other modern building in New York City, breaking the norm of a facade parallel to the street and planar surfaces. Of reinforced concrete construction, its most striking feature is the one-quarter-mile long ramp which spirals up in ever-widening loops around an interior courtyard.

Construction Period:

Reinforced concrete with early elastronic wall coating

Original Physical Context:

On New York's upper Fifth Avenue, which largely consists of apartment houses constrcted of brick, sometimes with limestone over lower floors, together with a number of surviving town houses, largely though not entirely now serving institutional uses. Nearly all these buildings have flat facades facing the park and built to the building line. This is a stable neighborhood.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

Wright was known to push the limits of technology and this building is no exception. George N. Cohen, the contractor, is credited with having made construction of a unique building possible at a reasonable cost. Wright created an irregular shape in the spiral that expands as it rises. This created uneven expansion and contraction as temperatures change. In order to preserve a monolithic appearance, there are no expansion joints. Wright used a thick elastic wall coating that had just been developed to prevent external cracking. Despite what would appear to be problems inherent to the building, a recent two-year assessment in connection with the restoration currently taking place found the structure in "remarkably good condition." "Guggenheim Restoration Has Wright Stuff," Architectural Record, vol. 195, no. 11, November 2007, p. 42.

Social:

Client and architect wanted and built a museum like no other. Despite its iconic status, the building appears to have had little influence on New York City architecture.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
Wright intended to build an museum that broke with conventional museum architecture, a symbol of a new era in the display of art. There were to be, he said, "clean beautiful spaces throughout the building, all beautifully proportioned to human scale." Put another way, Wright constructed a museum suitable for the founder's collection of non-objective art. Despite much controversy whether that aim was accomplished (many eminent artists derided the building initialy), Wright designed a building as innovative as the art it contains. The fact that is still startles us after nearly fifty years testifies to his success.
Historical:

Considered by many the most significant building of Wright's late period.

General Assessment:
There is little doubt that this is building of great significance, an icon to a great architect's unique vision of modern architecture. That it also houses an important cultural institution contributes to its value.
Documentation
Text references:

The building has been extensively published. There follows a very brief list of some of the more useful publications:
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum - Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, New York: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1960.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum - Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, New York: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1975.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection, 1994.
LANDMARK PRESERVATION COMMISSION, Report, New York: Landmark Preservation Commission, 1990

Authoring
Recorder/Date: Alan Gettner, March 6, 2008

Rosenbaum House

Added by Alex Cook, last update: December 5, 2012, 11:34 am

Rosenbaum House
Location
601 Riverview Drive
Florence, AL 35630
United States
34° 47' 36.3948" N, 87° 40' 49.8" W
Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Residential (RES)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):

National Register of Historic Places, 1978
Operation as city public museum, 2002

History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

In 1936, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Usonian house – the Jacobs House – was completed outside Madison, Wisconsin. The Jacobs House would later serve as the basis of the Rosenbaum plan, with its 2’ x 4’ planning module, L shape, and private areas pushed to the ends of the plan. Additionally, with a construction cost of only $5,500 the house would become a model for affordable designer houses.

In 1939, Stanley Rosenbaum, a professor at the University of Northern Alabama, and his wife Mildred, contracted Cooper Union architecture student Aaron Green to design a residence in Florence, Alabama. When Green delivered the plans in April of that same year, the estimated cost was well over the desired $7,500 maximum price, so Green (who greatly admired the design and low cost of the Jacobs House), recommended Wright as an alternative architect.

By August 1939, the Rosenbaums had contacted Wright asking for a house with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a large kitchen with service entrance and pantry, a study, and a living room large enough for many books, piano, organ, and radio-phonograph. Wright's plans were soon accepted and construction began in January 1940, to be completed by August.

The original plan called for a single story home that met the Rosenbaums' desired layout and cost, at 1540 square feet and $7,500 projected. By its completion, the Rosenbaum House would cost a total of $12,777.84.

Dates: Commission / Completion:August 1939 / August 1940
Architectural and other Designer(s): Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Others associated with Building/Site: Original Project Supervisor: Burton Goodrich Addition Project Supervisor: Benjamin Dombar Renovation Overseers: Don Lambert, AIA (architecture), and Dave Marbury, Craig Construction (construction) Renovation Consultant: John Eifler Museum Director: Barbara Broach
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): Addition Added (March 1948 - November 1948): Around 1945, the Rosenbaums requested an addition of a larger kitchen, breakfast area, laundry room, playroom, and a guest room with private bath. The end of World War II and arrival of the Rosenbaums’ fourth son were the two major impetuses for the expansion, with the renewed availability of wartime-depleted materials and the need for more space. FLW delivers plans for the expansion (September 1946). 1084 square feet (2624 square feet total) / $40,000-$50,000 Addition added, along with upgraded recessed lighting around bookshelves and in the kitchen, as well as a new carport. Renovation (2000-2002): Roof replaced (cantilevered eaves rebuilt with steel flitches, single-ply roof installed), gravity heat system repaired and later replaced by new heating and air conditioning system, house rewired and brought up to code, carport rebuilt, new kitchen cabinets added. Termites and water had damaged most of the walls (except for the original brickwork). The middle layer of the three layer walls (pine sandwiched by cypress panels) required extensive replacement. The cost was approximately $54,000. John Eifler of FAIA, who has overseen a number of Usonian restorations, consulted on the job.
Current Use: The Rosenbaum House was bought from Mildred Rosenbaum by the city of Florence, Alabama, in 1999 for $75,000. The city paid for the restoration of 2000-2002 and now runs the house as a public museum. Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 4 pm. Sunday - 1 pm - 4 pm. Admission charged.
Current Condition: The Rosenbaum House is restored to its original condition, with all weather and age related damage repaired. It currently meets the architectural and safety requirements of a public museum in the state of Alabama.
General Description:

The Rosenbaum House is a one story, L-shaped residence that follows Wright's principle of organic material and design. The service core of the house composed of the living area and kitchen is a mass of masonry, creating a central weight to the structure and providing an anchoring point for large cantilevering roofs. The walls and facade of the house are tidewater red cypress, reflecting Wright's love for this material and its relationship to the natural environment of the surrounding Alabama landscape. This connection between structural language and natural world is reinforced by the use of mitered glass corners (made possible by the cantilevers) that eliminate anticipated frames around windows and doors. With less visual obstruction between the indoor and outdoor spaces, the division seems to dissolve in certain areas, most notably the central living area. In addition, the attention paid to all aspects of the wood detailing (from the signature Wright-style mitered corners to recessed lighting) show a specific care for the qualities of cypress and the bounds of craftsmanship during the era of the Usonian home. With the addition of a second L-shaped wing came the enclosure of a lanai garden, yet another effort to preserve a sense of nature and natural life in and around the house.

From Sergeant's Usonian Houses:

"The living areas spacious, with an enlarged dining alcove, a 100-sq-ft study, and redesigned service core. By incorporating the heater at floorslab level, Wright was able to omit the small basement, together with its stair. This allowed extra circulation space and made the core an island with alternative routes about it, enhancing the house's apparent spaciousness. The bedroom wing of three rooms was terminated by a second bathroom.

"The house is the purest example of the Usonian. It incorporates detailing improvements and combines all the standard elements in a mature and spatially varied interior. Its exterior has an almost overpowering horizontality. The street facade forms a cypress wall from which springs the carport, a 20-ft cantilever utilizing concealed steelwork. Ten years after construction, the Rosenbaums had Wright extend the house. It thus became the first Usonian to be radically altered, something which owners of Wright houses were loath to do, but which he himself always saw as potentially inherent in an organic building. This addition backed a second L onto the first, containing a Japanese garden. With four sons in the family, extra sleeping accommodations were required. A quiet guest room terminated one arm, and the other contained a family kitchen, bunk-playroom, and utility room with second carport."

Construction Period:

Typical Wright construction: walls of cypress sandwiched around pine, layered 2x4s to support the roof, in-floor heating. Notably during the construction phase, Wearcoat and tar paper on the roof failed almost immediately in wet weather and were replaced, although differential expansion and leaks in the flat roof would be a problem for many years. Cypress board and batten were buckling, and the living room roof neared failure, so Goodrich added flitch plates and concealed steel I beams.

Original Physical Context:

The Rosenbaum House was the second Usonian house, following the Jacobs House. It followed, in principle, the plan and arrangement of the Jacobs House, with its 2’ x 4’ planning module, L shape, and private areas pushed to the ends of the plan. The simple and natural materials, the projected low cost and designer style of the house, the signature horizontal structure with broad flat roofs, and the arrangement of spaces in the house all make it a stepping off point, along with the other early Usonian houses, for Wright's later career. In the broader context, the house represents the interest in planned communities, especially the easily fabricated homes of the City Beautiful and Wright's Broadacre City.

Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:

The materials and design of the Rosenbaum House were characteristic of Wright and the Usonian house. The house is characterized by cypress mounted horizontally in reverse board and batten, in-floor heating, and solid, uninsulated sandwich walls built of pine covered on both sides with cypress. The structure is a modest, single-story, flat-roofed design with a floor plan organized around 2x4 and 4x4 grids. Notably, the project supervisor, Burton Goodrich, had to substitute filch plates and concealed I-beams to overcome the structure failure of sagging roofs during the construction phase.

Social:

Stanley Rosenbaum was a college professor, actually working out of his house when he first contacted Wright. This indicates the appeal that the Wright house had to the ordinary man. This was propelled by Wright's prior reputation, his inclusion in the International Style exhibit at the MoMa in 1932, and particularly for the Rosenbaums, a Time Magazine feature and Wright's renown among up-and-coming architects that had worked at Taliesen.

The house served only as a personal residence designed and later expanded to meet the needs of the Rosenbaums while allowing Wright to practice the language that would become central to the Usonian theme. The Rosenbaums would be the sole occupants through Stanley's death in 1983 and its purchase by the city of Florence in 1999. The house's inclusion in the Register of Historic places and conversion into a public museum indicate the general value that Wright's more private built works now hold in architectural history and as an expression of early modern architecture in America.

Cultural & Aesthetic:
The Rosenbaum House is simple in its plan and modest in its ornamentation. The governing principles are the natural qualities of the materials, the relationship of the house to the surrounding land, and the convenience of the layout to the needs and desires of the house's residents. Careful attention to detail regarding wood and glasswork are overshadowed by the simplicity of horizontally hung cypress and large windows.
Historical:

The Rosenbaum House won immediate renown. Stanley Rosenbaum stated that immediately upon occupying the house in September 1940, hundreds of visitors would request entry on a daily basis, so many that it seemed the entire population of Alabama had seen the house. On the national scale, photographs of the house were being displayed at MoMa within the month, further sparking the interest that would lead to commissions for the Pope, Goetsch-Winkler, and Euchtman Houses, followed by countless more Usonian and similar houses.

General Assessment:
The Rosenbaum House is an important landmark of American architecture, representing a movement towards nature and simplicity in the years following the Depression. The house would come to represent an affordable designer house available to the ordinary man. However, in time it would also demonstrate the structural and material weakness of most Wright houses, requiring extensive renovation just to keep from disintegrating.
Documentation
Text references:

BROACH, Barbara Kimberlin et. al, Frank Lloyd Wright's Rosenbaum House: The Birth And Rebirth of an American Treasure, San Francisco, Pomegranate Press, 2006, 0764937634.

BRIGGS, Sara-Ann, “Rosenbaum House Restoration Begins”, Bulletin: The Quarterly Newsletter of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, USA, Spring 2000, v.10, n.2, pg. 16-17.

HITCHCOCK, Henry Russell, In the Nature of Materials, New York, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1942, 0306800195.

“Buildings for Democracy”, Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly, USA, Spring 2004, v.15, n.2, pg. 4-21.

SERGEANT, John, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Houses, New York, Whitney Library of Design, 1984, 0823071774.

Authoring
Recorder/Date: March 2008
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