The Archives & Collections Building at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ is getting some upgrades! Last year, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation was awarded a substantial grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for improvements to the envelope and environment of the 1980s storage facility, which houses personal belongings and art collections of the Wright family, furnishings for their homes and studios, and the creative output of Fellowship members, as well as archival material such as photographs, oral histories, and newspaper clippings.
These improvements will provide a more stable environment and will lessen airborne particulate transmission into vault storage, both of which will promote the long-term preservation of this invaluable and irreplaceable collection – with the added benefit of a reduction of energy costs in the extreme Arizona desert climate.
This summer, an insulated, low-emissive roof with lightning protection was installed, and next steps include making upgrades to HVAC systems and interior cosmetic enhancements, both of which require collections staff to move collection material from one vault to another while work is being completed.
An Oak Park, IL couple is among six recipients of the Wright Spirit Awards, an honor given to owners and stewards of Wright-designed buildings, as well as those who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to preserving and restoring the remaining Wright works or enhancing appreciation of his legacy.
The Wright Spirit Award was established by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy in 1991. This year’s winners include five in the Professional Category. Linda Eales is being recognized for guiding the transition of Samara, the John and Catherine Christian House in West Lafayette, Indiana, from private home to public site; Jonathan Leck, for his preservation work and craftsmanship in the restoration of a dozen Frank Lloyd Wright buildings; Keiran Murphy, for her in-depth research on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright; and Mary Roberts for shepherding the $50 million restoration of the Martin House in Buffalo, New York. Special honors are being bestowed upon Judy and Dick Corson for their generous support to initiate the inscription of eight Wright buildings on the UNESCO World Heritage List
In the Private Category, Oak Parkers Mark Donovan and Mary Ludgin are being recognized for their restoration of Wright’s Harry Goodrich House. The couple moved into their Wright-designed home on East Avenue almost 24 years ago, and Ludgin noted that their purchase of the home almost didn’t happen.
“Mark had a few rules when we were looking for a house in Oak Park,” she said. “It couldn’t be designed by a named architect, it couldn’t be on a corner, it couldn’t be stucco and it had to have a fireplace.”
Donovan quipped: “I got two out of the four, so I’m batting 500.”
The stucco and wood frame home is one of Wright’s earlier designs, dating to 1896. Ludgin, who was a docent for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, said that she had a bit of remodeling experience under her belt in previous homes. Even so, she and Donovan had their work cut out for them and have spent the past 24 years meticulously restoring their home.
While the exterior of the home, which is in a local historic district, was protected, Ludgin said that the interiors were fair game for remodeling. Even with carte blanche for the interior, she said, “All along, our goal was to be as original to the materials and as well as the style choices as we could be.”
The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust permitted the couple visits to the Home & Studio after hours to examine wood and finishes up close. In their first big project, they remodeled the kitchen, choosing cabinets made of birch and soapstone counters for a period authenticity. Ludgin said, “From the start, we were trying to be as true to Wright as we could, recognizing that Wright was not a kitchen guy.”
The back of the house had been altered significantly over the years, and the couple continued to tackle more projects. They removed a first-floor bathroom that wasn’t original and reworked the third floor when they had to rebuild the roof.
“One thing that was really challenging was that we wanted to make the house as energy efficient as possible. It’s challenging because some energy efficient things get in the way of historic accuracy or vice versa,” Donovan said.
The couple added geothermal heating and cooling to the house, becoming, they believe, the first Wright-designed house to do so.
They also opened up the screened-in porch, revealing its original design and repainted the entire house, inside and out, in its original colors.
The pair got to be creative in the backyard. The garage was not a Wright original, so they were able to replace it with a custom-designed coach house that was based on a Wright design. Donovan said that originally their house was part of planned subdivision of Wright homes. None of the other homes were ever built, but they used the plans for one of the sister houses to inform the coach house’s design.
Through their years of renovations, they’ve been guided by architect John Eifler, who they note is a Wright scholar and a Wright homeowner himself.
Barbara Gordon, executive director of the conservancy states commended the couple’s work.
“Mark and Mary are very deserving of this award because of their long-time, dedicated stewardship and their efforts, which have brought the Goodrich House back to Wright’s original design intent,” she said.
The six winners were recognized in September at the conservancy’s conference in Minneapolis.
For those interested in seeing the home, Donovan and Ludgin said that it will be featured on the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s Wright Plus Housewalk in the spring of 2024.
Architecture will officially get its own month in Wisconsin, as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Wisconsin announced Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, Oct. 3 will proclaim October 2023 as “Architecture Awareness Month.” The proclamation falls in line with ARCHtoberfest, which kicked off with a party on Friday.
Evers will present the proclamation to AIA Wisconsin President Robert Wheat and Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary-designee Dan Hereth at the UW-Madison Bakke Recreation and Wellbeing Center.
Architecture Awareness Month, branded ARCHtoberfest, will provide residents with opportunities to explore, appreciate and engage with the built environment, officials said.
Wright Design Series, two lectures focused on Frank Lloyd Wright and covers architecture-related topics. They are free and open to the public virtually and in person at the Monona Terrace in Madison. The lectures are held on Oct. 5 and Oct. 24
The owner of a striking residence in Oklahoma City, OK has a distinct way of introducing people to her home.
“I always say I live in a sculpture,” says Joy Baresel, also the home’s listing agent, with Engel & Völkers Oklahoma City, Edmond and Norman. “There’s no other way to describe it.”
Baresel’s unique four-bedroom, six-bath, midcentury modern home in Oklahoma City just hit the market. Designed by architect Herb Greene and built into a hill overlooking the golf course, the property known as the Cunningham House was completed in 1962.
Greene is recognized for his Prairie House, also in Oklahoma, and studied under organic architect, Bruce Goff.
Baresel listed the property for $1,379,000. Since snapping up the 4,300-square-foot home in 2017 for $798,700, she’s updated three baths and tackled a kitchen remodel and expansion. “As we did renovations, we tried to stay true to the architect’s original design,” Baresel says.
Stucco and cedar were used for the curved walls and cedar for the ceilings. “He was really focused on the organic line being a curved line and bringing nature inside,” Baresel says of Greene.
The home was photographed by Julius Shulman in the 1960s and featured on the cover of Architectural Digest in 1971.
One unique design feature is the flat roof’s pea-gravel surface and copper tracks. “The roof catches the water, and the tracks guide the water to the front of the house,” Baresel explains, nothing that the water eventually flows into a pool. “It’s kind of like the house is a water fountain.”
The house is tucked into Oklahoma City’s Quail Creek neighborhood, which has a country club and golf course. According to Baresel, the Cunninghams—who commissioned the home—typically ate dinner at the country club, which is why the kitchen needed some attention after Baresel bought the place.
“Mrs. Cunningham had a profound art collection with Van Gogh and original pieces from the Impressionist artists,” Baresel says. “She also had a book collection and owned a bookstore. All of the hallway on the upper floor is bookshelves.”
Will an architecture and art lover move in next?
“It is such a unique and wonderful piece of architecture,” Baresel says. “It really takes someone who is wowed by its unique qualities.”
A flying saucer, a pink William Cody, a pioneering 1940s home, and a church turned recording studio: Bold buildings and the midcentury devotees behind them made 2023 a banner year for the tenets revered by the Palm Springs Modern Committee (aka PS ModCom) in California, which ripple out beyond preservation to encompass restoration, renovation, and reuse. Since 2003, the nonprofit has advocated for threatened buildings and celebrated those who revive desert modern design.
On Oct. 7, PS ModCom will recognize four revitalized properties and two outstanding individuals during its annual Preservation Awards at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Decorator Bill Stewart, among this year’s award recipients, speaks for many when he says, “Nothing makes us feel better than preserving Palm Springs’ architectural past and bringing it into the present for all to enjoy.”
Among those honored with the Residential Restoration Award, Owner Ron Burkle and Architect Helena Arahuete for the Hope House, designed by Architect John Lautner, 1979.
Comedian Bob Hope left a conspicuous memento on the Southridge hillside: the largest of his three Palm Springs homes. The 24,000-square-foot estate of steel, glass, and concrete holds a mysterious air. Why so large? Why does it resemble a UFO?
Architect John Lautner followed his Frank Lloyd Wright–induced proclivities for organic architecture to emulate a volcano. (It didn’t need to feel homey; the Hopes used it mainly for parties.)
After years of construction delays and decorative edits, the final version veered from Lautner’s vision — that is, until current owner Ron Burkle set out to fulfill the intended design. Original site architect Helena Arahuete, who worked with Lautner for 23 years, returned for the restoration. Calling upon an estimated 100 craftsmen, the team created a perfectly modern specimen, more minimalist than ornamental and warmed by natural materials.
Also receiving the Residential Renovation Award, Jackie Thomas and DeeAnn McCoy for the Gillman Residence by Architect Herbert W. Burns, 1948.
As a self-taught architect, Herbert Burns brought his own vision to Palm Springs, borrowing from Frank Lloyd Wright and the late moderne style to lay an early foundation for desert modernism. Today’s guests at The Hideaway, Orbit In, and Holiday House appreciate his strong compositions anchored in indoor-outdoor living, soothing horizontality, Arizona sandstone, and Santa Fe brick.
His partly demolished Gillman Residence teetered on the verge of a teardown before Jackie Thomas and DeeAnn McCoy of Thomboy Properties Inc. deemed it ripe for one of their mindful transformations. Void of the original grandeur seen in a 1951 story in Los Angeles Times Home Magazine, the property required a restorative overhaul of epic proportions.
“One of the biggest challenges was identifying all of the architectural elements that were missing and then sourcing or fabricating as many of the original materials as possible,” Thomas says. Their efforts yielded a Class 1 Historic designation in 2022.
Twelve acres of rolling hills and forest along Oakland Avenue in Minnetonka, Minnesota, became the site of the Birdwing house designed by Lloyd Wright. Plans were initiated in 1960 for Charles and Marjorie Pihl, a daughter of co-owner of the Holiday gas station chain.
Originally prepared for a location in Edina, it was determined that the site was too small and would not provide unobstructed views of the surrounding landscape, which was important to the design. In 1965, it was built in Minnetonka and purchased in 1976 by James Rupp, a past president of WCCO.
It is believed that Wright did not actually oversee the plan modifications or construction because Wright built his last house in 1963, thus reducing the home’s historical significance. The design of the home featured two wings with several of the rooms featuring floor-to-ceiling glass and overhanging soffits to control the light coming into the home, reminiscent of the prairie architecture style.
In 2019, the property was sold with plans to subdivide the acreage and demolish the home. However, Polymath Park, a Wright preservation organization, worked with the builder to deconstruct the home and move it to Pennsylvania, where it will be reconstructed and made available for tours.