The Progressive City is the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy’s third Chicago conference, the first there in fifteen years. Chicago around 1900 was a laboratory of progressive reforms addressing widespread social inequality, public health crises, and lack of access to education, nature and affordable housing. Education sessions will focus on the efforts of Wright, his peers and collaborators to improve the city through innovations in architecture, urban planning, parks, public health, education, social services, and housing.
If you're not able to attend this exciting event in-person then you're in luck! Special online events will delve into preservation advocacy for and restoration of Wright buildings in the Chicago area. The core days of the online conference experience are Saturday and Sunday, October 22-23. A detailed agenda, with links to live video streams and recordings of events that have concluded, will be available in the online Event Hub, to which registrants will receive access via email. Get more details and register for access here.
Speaking of the FLWBC Conference: During the gala on Saturday evening, the Wright Spirit Award Winners will be presented, with one being presented to Riverside resident Fanie Greef, who with his late husband, John Farneda, rescued and renovated the south wing of the main home at Wright’s beautiful Coonley Estate, which had been subdivided into several separate residences in the 1950s.
The home was originally designed for Avery Coonley and his wife Queene Ferry Coonley from 1908 to 1912 and set on a 10-acre parcel at the southern tip of Riverside.
The south wing had been vacant for several years, was in poor condition and had been damaged by vandals who had gained entry to the home at one point. Greef and Farneda purchased the property in 2015.
“It was abandoned,” Greef said. “There were a lot of problems.”
Chief among these was a leaking roof, and clogged gutters and downspouts, which were causing serious water damage inside the historic home.
After Greef and Farneda completed a historically accurate replacement of the roof and gutter system, they turned their attention to the rest of the house, replacing the plumbing system and knob-and-tube wiring and repairing stucco and damaged wood trim.
Working with original blueprints and old photographs, they also restored the primary suite’s fireplace to what it looked like originally, and Greef says they tackled the upkeep and maintenance needed to protect the home’s 108 fragile art-glass windows.
“It was a labor of love,” Greef said. “It’s been an honor to work on this house. John and I were able to see the potential of this house. We loved the lines of this house and the connection to Frank Lloyd Wright, but we knew it was not just about our love of the house. It was about stewardship and doing this for future generations.”
Greef says winning the award is “a total honor” and lamented that Farneda, who died in 2021, is not there to see the accolades for their years of meticulous restoration. In 2017, the Frederick Law Olmsted Society presented the couple with its Restoration Award for the work they completed on the once-endangered home. Read more here.
One of the so-called bachelor houses designed by famed architect John Lautner hit the Los Angeles market Friday for $2.998 million, according to Mansion Global.
Known as the Bergren Residence, the two-bedroom home features an angled roof, walls of glass and vistas of the city and the hills around it, according to the listing with Anthony Mian of Douglas Elliman Realty.
“The fact that Lautner is the designer is the most significant thing about the home—he was a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright,” Mr. Mian said. “In Los Angeles, Mid-Century Modern architecture is highly desirable, so you have one of the creators of the style’s original houses…and then you have the view and the V-shaped roof looking out to the city. It’s just inspiring when you’re in the living room.”
Hiram Banks, a principal consultant at Banks Landl Lighting Design and a regular restorer of historic homes, purchased the property in 2018 for $1.95 million, according to property records.
“I’ve always been a fan of good architecture, like [Richard] Neutra and Lautner,” Mr. Banks told Mansion Global, noting that he visited the Bergren Residence one weekend and made a bid that was eventually accepted. Then the restoration began.
“I worked with the architects who actually wrote the book on Lautner and did the archives at the Getty Center on Lautner,” Mr. Banks continued, referring to the Los Angeles-based architectural firm Escher Gunewardena, editors of the monograph “John Lautner, Architect.” The team used Lautner’s original drawings and sketches of the home as reference.
Lautner, also famous for his space-age, circular homes, worked in the Los Angeles area from 1938, when he opened his own practice, until the end of his career. He died in 1994 at the age of 83
“Everyone loves Mid-Century Modern architecture, but it’s not always the most functional,” Mr. Mian said. “I think the fact that this is a single level and actually has an open floor plan, actually could be lived in functionally, mixed with the fact that it’s an original John Lautner house is really what sets it apart.” See it here.
Over the decades, those who live for architecture or those who work in the Marin Civic Center find it both fascinating and endearing. As the landmark Bay Area government building turns 60, local attorneys who work there and architects who have drawn ideas from it reflect on the structure’s lasting influence.
Jennie Orvino of the North Bay Business Journal interviews several professionals who cite this building as an inspiration to their professional lives. Read the article by clicking here.