Dana-Thomas House: Documents Add To Rich History
Recently, the Dana-Thomas House Foundation received a collection of documents from Springfield attorney Daniel Greer. As a young lawyer, Greer joined the law firm of the elderly Earl Bice, the attorney who had represented Susan Lawrence Dana in the 1940s. Bice had kept many records and over the years had told Greer stories about Susan. Her house in Springfield is considered one of the most intact of all of Frank Lloyd Wright’s surviving designs. It has more than 100 pieces of furniture designed for the house, scores of art glass in windows, light fixtures, and decorative objects.
Many believe Susan Dana had opened her checkbook to Wright. But the receipts in the newly acquired collection show she was more particular about costs than first believed. One entry raises lots of speculation. It documents a loan to Frank Lloyd Wright and his wife in 1903, “due Aug. 15, 1906,” for $4,615.25. But Susan paid off the principal before the full payments were due. It is known she helped bankroll Wright’s sisters’ school in Wisconsin so it isn’t surprising she paid off a loan to her great architect.
The Dana-Thomas House is open for tours 9 AM - 5 PM, Wednesday through Sunday each week, additional hours seasonally 10 AM - 2 PM Monday and Tuesday. Tours are offered throughout the day and last about an hour. They suggest that you allow 1.5 hours time for your total site visit. Read more.
New Exhibit: See 200 Years of Chair Design
The Art of Seating at the Driehaus Museum located at 40 E. Erie Street in Chicago is where you can see 200 years of chair design and sit in rare styles. The exhibit features 37 American chairs crafted between 1810 and 2010 providing clear cut visuals of how aesthetics have changed. It shows how tastes have shifted—from the intricate, hand-crafted styles of the late 19th century to contemporary designs, only possible with modern technology.
The influential designs also come from well-known figures such as the Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Ero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, and Frank Gehry. While the chairs in the exhibit are only for your eyes, there is a component lounge where you can try out some of the designs, including the Molded Plywood Lounge Chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller, and Frank Gehry’s Superlight Chair. The Art of Seating will be open until August 12. Read more.
John Lautner's Hope-ful Design
Located in Palm Springs' Southridge community, the John Lautner-designed Hope Residence was completed in 1980 as the second home of the comedian and his wife Dolores. By referencing natural forms, Lautner was following in the footsteps of his mentor Frank Lloyd Wright, who promoted the harmony between design and nature with his "organic architecture" philosophy.
Lautner had served as an apprentice for Wright during the mid 1930s and by the time he came to design the house for Bob and Dolores in the 1970s, he had worked to distance himself from his famous teacher. However, many features are clearly comparable, like the curved forms and large expanses of glazing.
Covered by a large domed roof, the concrete residence is often likened to a mushroom. But Lautner is said to have modeled its unusual shape on a volcano, puncturing a huge hole in the roof to offer sky views and natural light to the patio below. As the roof curves down, it forms three arches that open vistas to the garden and panoramic vistas of the surrounding Coachella Valley. The Hope Residence measures 23,366 square feet (2,171 square metres), making it Lautner's largest home. Read more.
Architectural Art New York: The Met Museum
Geoffrey Dunbar writes of his experience of Architectural Art at the Met Museum with "...something the museum does display that is nowhere else (that I know of) is American ‘industrial and architectural’ art. Such is the pair of staircases form the Chicago Stock Exchange building by Adler and the much more famous Louis Sullivan."
Geoffrey, here is an invitation to come and see the entire Stock Exchange Trading Room at The Art Institute of Chicago. The Department of Architecture and Design features a collection of 250,000 objects grounded in works by Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier, as well as Louis Sullivan and others. Read more.
Leading by His Hero's Ideals (Video)
For Stuart Graff, his personal inspiration was Frank Lloyd Wright, who he says helped him find his voice. Graff, now president and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, was first drawn to the architect during a field trip when he was 8. He liked the open spaces and light play that’s a characteristic of much of the Wright’s work, and Graff’s fascination grew after he went to the library and began to find any book on the architect he could get his hands on. “I became something of an amateur scholar of Wright’s work,” Graff said.
Graff is fulfilling this passion in his current position at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Graff previously worked in the for-profit world first as a intellectual property and corporate lawyer and led business in Newell Rubbermaid and Valspar, but he was looking to transition to a nonprofit at the time. For the Wright Foundation board, Graff’s background and experience in business and law made him the perfect fit. His ability to tell you just about anything you want to know about Wright didn’t hurt, either.
Graff just passed his two-year anniversary as the organization’s president. During that time, he said the organization has become more open to the community. Read the article and see the video here.
Louis Hay and His American Architectural Influences
After New Zealand's 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake and resulting fires destroyed most of the brick buildings and the remaining stock of wooden ones in the Napier Central Business District, architects could give free rein to their creative expressions.
Architect Louis Hay (1881-1948) was a follower of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan – in particular the Prairie architecture of Wright. Hay had copies of the published work of both American architects, which had a profound influence on his designs.
Louis began designing in the Prairie Style in the 1910s and 1920s with the former Soldiers' Club (1916), former Napier Fire Station (1921), and the Women's Rest (1926) and Parkers Chambers (1930). Of these buildings, only the Soldiers' Club came through totally unscathed from the 1931 quake, and reconstruction of the others was needed. After the quake, he used reinforced concrete, as required by law. Louis' design work after the quake meant many buildings of his were still exploring Prairie touches, but some Art Deco and Chicago School experiments were also tried. Read more.
Visions for Madison: Circa 2093
The James Watrous Gallery of Madison, Wisconsin asked a group of local artists, architects and other thinkers to come up with a vision for Madison 75 years from now. The Madison Design Professionals workgroup, included its vision for constructing a boathouse designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as part of a waterfront park on the Monona Lake shoreline. Read more.
Cool Spaces: A Restored Wright Home in Okemos
The Goetsch-Winckler House in Okemos, Michigan was built in 1940 and is one of the handful of residences in the Lansing area designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The home was created for Alma Goetsch and Kathrine Winckler, art professors at what would become Michigan State University. Constructed during the summer of 1940, the house was originally intended to be one of several built in a Usonian community in Okemos; however, theirs was the only house constructed.
After the two professors died, the house passed through many hands and fell into disrepair. In 2001, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy was notified of the run-down condition of the house. One of those who notified the Conservancy was Susan Bandes, executive director of the Kresge Art Museum at MSU, who wrote the book "Affordable Dreams: the Goetscher-Winckler House and Frank Lloyd Wright," and had been monitoring the house. Thanks to hard work and due diligence, from many individuals, the home was saved from foreclosure and possible demolition.
Audrey and Dan Seidman purchased the home in 2007. Originally from Pennsylvania, the Seidmans lived in California. Dan had done graduate work at MSU in the 70s, and after a long career in K-12 education in Pennsylvania and California, began working at MSU nine years ago. The Seidmans have had lots of restoration and preservation work done on the house—including doors, windows, and floors.
"We've left the marks of history, though," Audrey Seidman said. "We haven’t fixed every scratch, or every hole, we’ve kind of made things look clean and livable." In 1995, the Goetsch-Winckler house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Read more.
Taliesin Architecture Camps for Kids
Here is an opportunity to register your kids in a fantastic Architecture Camp at Taliesin. Starting in June, all camps are held at the Wyoming Valley School Cultural Arts Center (A Wright designed school) 6306 State Road 23, Spring Green, WI 53588 from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Fees include: lunch, materials & a Taliesin Tour. More information here.
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