Matt Hickman of The Architect's Newspaper informs his readers that the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has provided an update on two Frank Lloyd Wright landmarks—both also contributing properties to a larger UNESCO World Heritage Site—that are ongoing major historic preservation efforts now in various stages of progress.
At Taliesin West, Wright’s 500-acre winter compound, work is focused on completing accessibility upgrades to meet ADA compliancy, an overhaul of the site’s aging water and sewer infrastructure, and a roof replacement project that swaps out the main buildings’ 1930s-era canvas roofing panels with new panels that “match the quality of light and color of the original canvas material” while offering long-lasting durability against the unforgiving climate of the Sonoran desert.
Initial work on the panel replacement project first kicked off in October 2021 with intensive monitoring as to how the natural elements—adverse weather conditions included—impact the interior of Wright’s studio building with the original 1939 materials in place. As the Foundation detailed:
Once a year’s worth of data has been compiled, the team will create a computer-generated model with the proposed panel design to test different materials, such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coated fiberglass fabrics and aerogel insulation, to measure durability and impact on the interior environment. The preservation team will first test the new system on Wright’s office for a few years before introducing the technology on other structures at Taliesin West.
On the infrastructural and accessibility front, new restrooms will be added to each level of the terraced site to better accommodate visitors of all abilities while planning is also underway for a new water and sewer system to replace the temperamental, octogenarian system currently in place. Construction work on that major undertaking is expected to kick off next spring and last roughly a year. All of these efforts are being executed as part of the 10-year 2015 Taliesin West Master Plan, with roughly 90 percent of the projects envisioned as part of the plan now completed.
Five hundred-some miles away in bucolic Sauk County, Wisconsin, efforts underway at Taliesin, Wright’s summer studio, are more modest in scope but no less vital with work being focused exclusively on the Midway Barn. Built beginning in 1938 with subsequent additions and alterations being carried over the years, this T-shaped hillside agricultural outbuilding stands as one of five Wright-designed structures at the storied 600-acre estate, which was first established as a functional farm by the family of Wright’s mother. In partnership with a team of graduate students in historic preservation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design, the preservation team is in the process of “documenting existing conditions within the structure and creating 3D models of the building, as well as working to gain a better understanding of how the spaces within the Midway Barn were used in the past and how those spaces can be utilized today,” according to the Foundation. Read more and see the photos here.
Andrew Spahr, the director of historic houses at the Currier Museum of Art, agreed to give Elizabeth Howard, the host of the Short Fuse Podcast, a tour of the Zimmerman House a few weeks ago.
"I have visited Fallingwater, Wright’s home designed for the Kaufman family in the Laurel Highlands of Southwest Pennsylvania; Taliesin West, Wright’s winter home and studio outside of Scottsdale, Arizona, and one of his Usonian homes near Detroit, Michigan. What would a Frank Lloyd House look like in New Hampshire?"
"Dr. Isadore J. Zimmerman and his wife Lucille wanted a house that wasn’t like all the other New England-style homes in Manchester. They approached the well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright and asked if he would design their home. He agreed and designed not only the house, but the gardens and the interior details down to the dinnerware. The house was built in 1950 under Wright's direction. Interestingly Wright never visited the house."
"Wright believed in bringing the outdoors in, so the home would appear to encroach on and be part of the landscape. He also believed people should not be encouraged to collect clutter so there are always few closets, shelves and places for “things” to accumulate."
"The scale of Wright houses is often small to create a sense of intimacy and yet planned in a way that provides a sense of space. In the Zimmerman House there is a corner with a piano and a music stand with a cello leaning against it. While the house is not large, the main living room is configured so one could invite friends for a concert. Furniture is often built in, yet the other pieces are easily moved so the seating or dining can be reconfigured if necessary. Shelves, built into the walls, allow for art and books. Just not too many. Life must be carefully curated. The Zimmermans collected pottery, paintings, and sculpture." Read the entire article and listen to the pod cast by clicking here.