A Rare Collection of Midcentury Architecture Is Revealed in Michigan
Mid-Century Modern Midland (MCMM), a project of the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, committed to documenting, preserving, and celebrating Midland, Michigan’s architectural heritage, has created a website and mobile app to share an unprecedented collection of over 400 Mid-Century Modern buildings. Through a customized database, the website and app allow you to search any of the structures and features a photo along with documented information. Biographical information about the architects and designers who contributed to this unique architectural landscape is also accessible.
In addition to information about the structures and architects, the app features pre-selected tours and an option to create your own customized tour by selecting the architect and/or building type. It will then route your tour in the most efficient path and opens it in Google Maps. The routing feature was created through a partnership with the University of Michigan’s Department of Industrial Operation Engineering, Practicum in Production and Service System Class. Instructor Dan Reaume assigned a senior design team of four students the task of creating the routing system that merged with the informational database. Check out the website and be sure to download the app before your Midland, MI visit! More here.
Marin Civic Center Makes Its Marin Blue Debut
Frank Lloyd Wright died in 1959, the year before construction began on the Marin Civic Center, whose graceful, arched forms the great architect nestled into the landscape and capped with a lively ornamented roof he envisioned gold, like the summer hills of Marin.
But when work started on what would become a national landmark, the contractors and Wright’s architectural associates realized that no gold coating existed then that could weather the sun and rain without fading rapidly. Instead, with the OK of Wright’s widow, they opted for the jolting sky blue the master had used for the domed roof of Milwaukee’s Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, which opened in ’61, a year before the huge double-winged Marin building. That custom color became forever known as "Marin Blue."
Now, for the first time in years, you can see how blue it really is, thanks to a $20 million county project to strip away all the old layers of roofing, repair the sweeping concrete barrels underneath and completely replace the polyurethane roofing material. The final blue coat is guaranteed not to fade for a decade.
The first half of the job — the library dome and south wing — is finished, glowing in the winter sun to the pleasure of people flying past on the freeway. Crews plan to begin work on the Hall of Justice wing this spring. See more here.
Don't Miss The Tower Gala
Support the Price Tower Arts Center by enjoying a night of fun at one of the best parties of the year! The Tower Gala will take place March , 2019 and will feature live music by Time Machine Band, live speed painting by Amy Burkman, and an auction with unique trips and experiences. To get more details and your tickets, follow the link.
Beautiful Drawings By The World’s Most Famous Architects
Architectural Digest professes that all architects are artists, working in a three-dimensional medium on a grand scale. Many times, the artistry goes beyond their structures. Some architects are accomplished draftsmen, often working in an exacting form with meticulous attention to detail. Others choose to put pen to paper in a more emotional, stylized manner.
The new book Drawing Architecture (Phaidon, $80) is a collection of more than 250 works by some of the world’s best-known architects, from Michelangelo to Zaha Hadid. “Polished presentation drawings made to seduce clients, or for publication, sit alongside instructive diagrams and impromptu sketches communicating intense emotion,” writes author Helen Thomas in the introduction. “The diversity of the examples collected in this book shows that the definition of an architectural drawing encompasses many and varied approaches.” Take a look at more of examples of that artistry here.
Four New Homes On Wright Plus 2019 Tour
Tickets to Wright Plus 2019 in Oak Park on Saturday, May 18 are now available and the early bird gets the discount and the best access to all of the extras provided by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.
This year's walk includes interior tours of eight private residences as well as entry to two landmarked Wright-designed buildings in Oak Park. Of special interest, this year's walk features four homes have never before been featured on the walk, so if you've always wondered what that stunning home looks like on the inside, now is your chance to see.
There is one Wright-designed house making its debut on Wright Plus this year. The Francis J. Wooley House is located close to Wright's Home and Studio, but Angela Whitaker, Wright Plus coordinator, calls it a bit of a sleeper. "It's in a unique location, and it's not on our walking tours, so people sometimes miss it," she said. "We're just really excited to finally get this on the walk."
Another new house for the walk is the Ashley B. Smith House on Augusta Avenue, designed by Robert E. Seyfarth. The circa-1925 house may be new to the walk, but its owners are not. Whitaker notes that the homeowners' previous residence was featured on Wright Plus, and they brought a sense of preservation to their restoration of the Ashley B. Smith House.
The George L. Smith House is also making its Wright Plus debut. Designed by noted architect John S. Van Bergen in 1914, the Prairie-style home keeps up a continuum for the walk according to Whitaker. "We often have one Van Bergen house on the walk," she said. "For people who come back every year, they get a broad exposure to his work."
The fourth new house on the walk is the Ernest P. Waud House, designed by Tallmadge and Watson in 1914. Whitaker says the Trust researcher for the house is already delving deep into the home's interesting history and thinks the house will be a treat for all visitors on the walk.
For those looking to add to their Wright Plus experience, the Ultimate Plus Weekend Package begins Thursday, May 16, with a Wright Night in the Rookery Building in Chicago. The package includes a hotel stay at the Carleton Hotel in Oak Park, and on the Saturday of the walk includes fast-pass access to the homes, a private lunch at the Nineteenth Century Club and an Exclusively Wright Dinner at the Robie House in Chicago.
An exclusive, all-day tour, entitled Art on the Farm and Prairie is also included in the $2,650 ticket price ($2,500 for Frank Lloyd Wright Trust members.) As of press time, a few Ultimate Plus tickets remain, but it is expected to sell out.
Heike Rass, the Trust's assistant director of communications for audience development, says that the Trust has added two more experiences for architecture aficionados who may not be looking for an entire weekend experience.
A new panel discussion, Renewing Wright's Vision: Restoring Robie House, takes place on Sunday, May 19 and will be led by preservation architect Gunny Harboe and Karen Sweeney of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust. The discussion is followed by a separate cocktail reception.
On Monday, May 20, a trip to Muirhead Farmhouse and Fabyan Villa will take visitors on a tour of the award-winner restoration of the farm, and stroll through the estate's award-winning circa-1910 Japanese Garden. The all-day tour includes a lunch in Geneva and transportation.
Ticket information for all events associated with Wright Plus is available at www.flwright.org. Through Feb. 28, tickets for the Wright Plus Walk are available for $90 ($80 Trust members) with prices increasing each month. More details here.
Avery Library Publishes New Digital Guide To The Frank Lloyd Wright Archive
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation announces the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library of Columbia University is offering a new way to research Frank Lloyd Wright archival materials in their collection through a newly published online guide. The Avery’s archivist of drawings and archives, Shelley Hayreh, explains the benefits of the guide and some helpful tips for researchers.
"Use the Guide to Frank Lloyd Wright at Avery to find all the information you need to begin research in the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (Foundation Archives), as well as Avery’s other holdings on Wright. Among other things, visit our site for guidance on how to book an appointment, see if we have drawings for your Wright house, or to keep abreast of newly released finding aids and resources."
In addition to providing general guidance to researchers, the guide will reveal the depth and diversity of materials in this substantial and historically significant archive. While Wright’s original drawings are, of course, a critical part of the archive, there is much more to be discovered. Read more.
Coonley House Sold After Eight Years On Market
The meticulously restored 6,000-square-foot residence that is part of a much larger estate designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Riverside, IL sold February 1, more than eight years after it first came on the market. The home, which contains some of the main rooms of the landmark Avery Coonley House sold for $1.15 million according to Nancy Karp, the @properties agent who represented the buyer.
That is likely considerably less than what the sellers spent to buy and restore the house. When they listed the house for sale at $2.89 million in October 2010, Dean and Ella Mae Eastman told Chicago magazine that they bought it in 2000 for $975,000 and spent, according to Dean Eastman at the time, "much more than that" on restorations. That indicates the couple had at least $1.95 million invested in the home.
In a 1943 autobiography, Wright wrote that "I put my best into the Coonley House," and called it "the most successful of my houses from my standpoint." Built between 1908 and 1912, the cluster of buildings interconnected with courtyards was Wright's design for Avery Coonley and his wife, Queene Ferry Coonley. Decades later the buildings' 10,000 square feet of residential space, no longer surrounded by acreage, was cut up into four separate living units.
In 2000, Dean Eastman and his wife bought the largest space. They spent years restoring crumbling walls, an exterior frieze made of concrete and tile, a lily pond and many other original details. The Eastmans' work was "a significant effort to bring back a house that is hugely important" in Wright's work, said John Waters, preservation programs manager at the Chicago-based Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. "It was a labor of love by people with a vision of what could be done."
The work included recreating a mural 28 feet wide on a living room wall that was originally the work of George Mann Niedecken, who designed furniture and other items for the Prairie Style-homes designed by several architects, including Wright, Dwight Perkins, and Marion Mahony Griffin. More here.
Don't Miss Out And About Wright Dallas
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy's first event in Texas includes Wright's Kalita Humphreys Theater and tours of some of the area's most remarkable private houses.
Out and About Wright: DFW Modern, May 2-5, 2019, focuses on Wright's Kalita Humphreys Theater with a tour and program of experts speaking about hopes for its restoration, plus rare tours of the area's most remarkable private houses by Steven Holl, Richard Meier, Edward Larrabee Barnes, A. Quincy Jones, and Wright apprentices John Rattenbury and W. Kelly Oliver. Masterful buildings by Louis I. Kahn, Tadao Ando, Fay Jones, Renzo Piano and more round out this exceptional program. To get more details and register, go here.
Film Premiere: John H. Howe • Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Master of Perspective
If you are in the Phoenix area you will not want to miss the premiere screening of the new John H. Howe documentary as part of a Taliesin Fellows benefit event, taking place February 9th at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Harold Price, Sr. House (aka "Grandma House") in Paradise Valley, AZ. RSVP info and order tickets here.
Thieves Stole Architectural Gems From USC In A Heist That Remained Hidden For Years
Six years after a heist at the USC warehouse, an anonymous letter to the Los Angeles Times revealed the crime. Thieves made off with a cache of furniture designed by two of the most celebrated American architects of the 20th century: Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolph Schindler. Gone were two of Wright’s striking floor lamps and a cushioned chair believed to have been designed by Schindler — a haul with a potential value of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The identities of the perpetrators remain a mystery.
There is a second puzzle: Why didn’t the university report the theft to police at the time or seek the public’s help in recovering the irreplaceable pieces?
Ninety years ago, the lamps illuminated a residence belonging to Samuel Freeman and his wife, Harriet, an avant-garde couple who had commissioned Wright to turn a steep and narrow plot in the Hollywood Hills into a showplace.
The architect, already famous and enjoying a midlife sojourn in California, ringed the living room with tall windows that provided dramatic views down Highland Avenue and of the surrounding hills. The furniture he fashioned for the room included the 6-foot-high cast iron and glass lamps. Schindler, later worked on the house, adding his own unique furnishings.
Samuel Freeman died 1981. Harriet suffered a stroke and died in 1986. Childless, they left the home and furniture to USC, hoping the university would treasure the property as a site for meetings, classes, and historic preservation. That has sadly not been the case.
The stolen floor lamps and chair had significant value. The lamps are particularly rare and coveted by collectors. A nearly identical piece Wright made in the same period for a Hollywood Boulevard residence sold at auction two years ago for $100,000. Read more about this mystery here.
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