In The Michigan Daily, Matthew Gallatin tell us of his personal tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Palmer House in Ann Arbor. Gary Cox, the father of the current owner of the Palmer House, Jeffrey Schox, is responsible for most of the daily upkeep of the home, which now operates as a guest house year-round. He gives the rare tour and checks on the state of the infrastructure.
Keeping the name, “Palmer House,” is one of the stipulations for owning the home, which was designed by Wright in the early 1950s for William Palmer and his wife, Mary. The home is under easement by the National Register of Historic Places, and beyond keeping the title, the new owners must also consult — and get approval from — the conservatory register to make any design changes, no matter how mundane. Read more.
In the early 1930s, Frank Lloyd Wright unveiled a model American community he called "Broadacre City." Like many utopian plans, it included everything from transportation systems to prefabricated housing.
Though no Broadacre City was ever built, a disciple of Wright’s founded a planned community in Pleasantville, New York, called "Usonia" in 1947—named after Wright’s famous single-story house design that evolved from his earlier Prairie period. Wright was by no means the first visionary to embrace the idea of an utopian planned community. In fact, America’s first planned community, Llewellyn Park, debuted 70 years earlier in West Orange, New Jersey. Read more.
Tucked away in Chicago’s West Pullman neighborhood on the South Side, a little known green-and-yellow country home and stable sits on a quarter acre surrounded by old, graceful trees. It’s a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home built in 1900 for the Foster family as their summer home escape from the urban bustle. Japanese architecture influenced Wright here. Gateway posts with a little roof are at the entrance — hardly the Prairie style Wright’s lauded for.
“This is an evolving Frank Lloyd Wright in his young days. He was in his early 30's and he was still in a period of searching for himself and what his architectural influences are,” City of Chicago cultural historian Tim Samuelson said. “What’s fun about this house is most people don’t know about it. I’ll have people who will come visit me who are scholars and experts and I will take them here. And it’s a totally unexpected surprise and thrill,” Samuelson said. “At the same time it makes them scratch their head because not only do they not know about it, but it doesn’t outwardly look like anything they expected it to.”
The home has city landmark status, and new owners are expected to close on the property this month. Let's hope for a happy outcome for this gem in the rough. Read more.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust announced that the Frederick C. Robie House will continue its public tours during a 14-month interior restoration project that would help restore the home back to its original 1910 appearance.
“Robie House is a groundbreaking Wright residence,” said John Rafkin, chairman of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s board of directors and chair of the Robie House Restoration Committee, composed of Chicago area preservationists, architects and University of Chicago officials. “The Trust has a sound plan not only to restore the house, but also to ensure that it continues to be properly maintained in the years to come. We are very excited to bring this masterpiece back to its original glory.”
The anticipated completion date is early 2019. The restoration project will include, plaster and coloration of walls and ceilings, woodwork and floor treatments, light fixtures and selected leaded glass windows and doors, rooms treated: which will include the main entry hall and stairway, billiard room, children’s playroom on the ground floor, the living room, the dining room and guest bedroom on the main floor.
Harboe Architects is the firm of record for the project and Bulley & Andrews is the general contractor. Karen Sweeney, preservation architect and the Trust’s facilities director, is the project manager. The Trust will also offer special in-depth tours with videos mainly showing the work in progress with features on its site and on the Trust’s website. Read more.
Limited edition posters created by Canadian artist Bill Ross of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Banff Park Pavilion in a wintry scene are now available for purchase. Net proceeds go toward the rebuilding of the Banff Park Pavilion. For you collectors, each print is signed, numbered, and includes a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist. Read more.
When you think of interesting architecture that never came to be, a bridge designed by Frank Lloyd Wright should be near the top of the list. After the construction of the Bay Bridge in 1933, San Francisco began considering duplicating the bridge and running a second one further south across the bay. Partnering with engineer Jaroslav J. Polivka, Wright proposed a concrete "Butterfly Bridge,” spanning from Army Street (now Cesar Chavez) and Third Street to its eastern terminus on Bay Farm Island, just north of the Oakland Airport.
The design was all reinforced concrete, resting on a series of giant hollow almond-shaped piers—which they claimed to be earthquake-proof construction. Long curved arms would carry six lanes of traffic and two pedestrian walkways, supported by two arches connected by a butterfly-shaped garden park as “a pleasant relief and perhaps a stopping point for the traffic.”
Alas, the Butterfly Bridge project lost steam after plans for the underwater Transbay Tube were unveiled, a project that connected BART from San Francisco to Oakland. But who knows...perhaps the idea could take flight some day after all. Read more.
With Christmas right around the corner, there's a lot of toy talk at the moment. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th Century that toys were mass produced, promoted through advertising campaigns, and became part of the popular culture. One of the great building toys, Lincoln Logs, have an interesting pedigree: they were invented by John Lloyd Wright, son of the acclaimed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The notched logs linked together and enabled kids to build cabins just like the one Abraham Lincoln grew up in. (But whether the name was derived from the ex-President’s name, a play on words from the fact that the logs "linked" together, or both of those things, is not known for sure.) The logs are still being manufactured and the original toy and its creator have been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. Read more.
The "Textile Blocks" that clad one of Frank Lloyd Wright's celebrated L.A. Houses have been recreated by Offecct as acoustic wall panels. Swedish furniture brand Offecct teamed up with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to create the Soundwave Ennis acoustic tile.
The design is based on the decorative tiles that the American modernist architect used on the walls of the Ennis House in Los Angeles, California. Built in 1924, it was the largest of the four Textile Block Houses.
The house's geometrically patterned reliefs were cast in concrete to use for Wright's building. But Offecct's version is made from recyclable moulded polyester and is designed to be used on interior surfaces. "By keeping Wright's design intact but transferring it from concrete which lacks acoustic properties to our felt material, it becomes a high performing acoustic panel."
The launch of the Ennis tiles coincides with the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright's birth. "Offecct is a company with a strong interest in the history of architecture and we have always admired and been inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s work," said Kurt Tingdal, CEO of Offecct. Read more.
Costly repairs and lower attendance have caused the administration of the William Wesley Peters-designed St. Mary's Church in Alma, Michigan to consider having it demolished. It's not just Catholics who hate to see the church torn down—non-church members are almost as upset.
St. Mary’s Church (Nativity of the Lord Parish) is unique in the city and an important work of mid century modern organic architecture. Not even 60 years old, it is estimated that it will cost at least $689,200 for repairing/replacing the roof, tuckpointing/sealing the exterior, replacing carpet in church, repairing pews, and repairing slope in floors. This estimate doesn’t include repainting/replastering damaged church ceiling, fixing concrete arch damage, fixing rectory roof, fixing leak in basement and damaged basement ceiling, mold abatement in rectory, and possible costs associated with upgrading to current code requirements. Read more.
Blair Kamin reports on a new plan to resurrect the burned-out remains of Chicago’s Pilgrim Baptist Church, the birthplace of gospel music and a rare example of a religious building by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. Although there have been false starts in the past, the new idea calls for turning the ruin-like walls into the outer shell of a National Museum of Gospel Music that would open in 2020.
While it's laudable to try and save this historic structure, it would be nice to see the proposed $37.2 million for the project spent towards restoring the church back to its original design. Read more.