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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for October 2018

Chicago: Frank Lloyd Wright 3

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We now turn to the studio that Wright constructed in front of his house in Oak Park. The original house dates to 1889: the studio and connecting corridor were built in 1898.

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

 

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

“Most of the sculptures on the exterior of the Home and studio were designed by Wright’s friend and collaborator, Richard Bock. These include the two boulder figures flanking the entrance of the studio, which features a man crouching and breaking free from the ground beneath him. Bock also designed the stork capitals on the exterior loggia of the studio. The capitals signifies the tree of life, the book of knowledge, an architectural scroll, and two storks full of wisdom and fertility.” (wikipedia)

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

 

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

The studio has lots of natural light thanks to the skylight with its characteristic pattern of coloured glass. The gift shop has, of course, lots of things with patterns like this on them.

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

I was a bit surprised that the drawings were all laid out on flat tables – which could be adjusted for height. Most of the popular images for architects drawing boards show them tilted at an angle.

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

The guide did a bit of audience involvement here. He got four people to hold hands as they stood around him, and then move back until their arms were extended: then he told them to lean out further. The roof of the octagonal studio is supported by the metal frame and chains, and the four people could all testify to how that works.

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_rees/30536490747/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_rees/44751364794/

Model of the Robie House

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_rees/30536487447/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_rees/45476618341/

I imagine that the secretary who had to sit in this chair as she did Wright’s typing has some thoughts about his lack of understanding of human anatomy and ergonomics.

The next post in this series will deal with Wright’s first commission for a public building.

 

Written by Stephen Rees

October 21, 2018 at 2:48 pm

Posted in architecture

Chicago: Frank Lloyd Wright 2

with one comment

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So long, Frank Lloyd Wright
I can’t believe your song is gone so soon
I barely learned the tune
So soon, so soon

I’ll remember Frank Lloyd Wright
All of the nights we’d harmonize ’till dawn
I never laughed so long
So long, so long

Architects may come and architects may go
And never change your point of view
When I run dry
I stop awhile and think of you

Paul Simon’s lyrics

In order to get a picture of the house and studio I would have had to cross the road and find a way to frame a shot, which would be dominated by a giant ginko tree he planted. So this is not my picture but one taken from Google Streetsview

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The rest of the images are of the interior as we took the guided tour – the only way that visitors are allowed to see the house. The guide was brilliant: I strongly recommend you take the tour if you get the chance.

The house is the first that followed the “open plan” layout that has now become common. Previously houses had many rooms all accessed by hallways. Wright made his home feel more spacious by eliminating or minimising circulation space.

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

The inglenook in the reception room: note the carved inscriptions over the fireplace. He thought that drawing the curtains would create a nice warm, cosy place to sit. Over the years more advanced heating and cooling systems have replaced the role of the fireplace. This one is central to the house rather than in one of the outside walls. The chimney had to be cranked to get around the “window” to the dining room.

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

The style of the dining room chairs seems to me reminiscent of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

Wright deplored the convention of filling a room with furniture: his built-in seats in the window alcoves were one of his many innovations.

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

Skylight: the repeating geometric patterns are formed by natural shapes such as leaves.

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

The window has a characteristic pattern incorporating coloured glass based on the prairie grasses that would have been visible when the house was built, when it was still in open country.

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

Wright also designed the light fittings

Frank Lloyd Wright House & Studio

In order to reduce the intrusion into the large loft room, the grand piano is suspended over the staircase by a hook. Only the keyboard is visible in the room itself. He also bought a pianola-roll player, to play it for him.

You will note how small the stairway is: that is also reflected in hall which leads into the large upper room. “Compression and release” is a favourite theme of Wright’s layouts.

The next post will be of the studio.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 20, 2018 at 11:12 am

Posted in architecture

Chicago: Frank Lloyd Wright 1

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I took a lot of pictures on my recent trip to Chicago. You will be able to see more of them on flickr. I am going to try and assemble some of them into Blog Posts,  starting on our first full day in the region.

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Oak Park is a suburb of Chicago just north of the City Limits. It is where Frank Lloyd Wright built his home and studio, a number of large houses and a strikingly original church. We had booked a tour of the house and studio. Arriving early we were able to walk around the block where his house was built – and recognised his style in many of the houses.

Moore-Dugal Residence Oak Park

Completed in 1895, this was Wright’s first commission after he left Adler and Sullivan’s firm. The third and fourth floors were destroyed by fire in 1922. Wright immediately returned, redesigned and rebuilt the home.

Oak Park

Oak Park

Oak Park

Oak Park

Oak Park

Oak Park

Oak Park

Oak Park

Oak Park

Hills-DeCaro House, Oak Park

“The Edward R. Hills House, also known as the Hills–DeCaro House, is a residence located at 313 Forest Avenue in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois. It is most notable for a 1906 remodel by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in his signature Prairie style. The Hills–DeCaro House represents the melding of two distinct phases in Wright’s career; it contains many elements of both the Prairie style and the designs with which Wright experimented throughout the 1890s. The house is listed as a contributing property to a federal historic district on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is a local Oak Park Landmark.”

It is pretty easy I think to pick out the Wright houses in the selection above.

The next post will deal with Wright’s home and studio.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 19, 2018 at 10:53 am

Posted in architecture

Tagged with , ,

Vancouver Public Library: New Roof Garden

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We went downtown today to see the recently opened extension to the main public library. There is a new top floor with an large public space, currently hosting an exhibit about the changing city and above that a rooftop area that is mostly paved but with some planting (shown above).

I have also uploaded a set of photos to my flickr stream which I am linking to below

Vancouver Public Library

This poster is displayed in the main lobby. It is not meant to be taken literally.

Vancouver Public Library

As you can see it is not that hard to find your way around the new 9th floor.

There are two open patios on the 8th floor, also accessible from new exterior stairs as well as the internal escalators, elevators and stairs.

Vancouver Public Library

There is also a planted area that is not open to the public on the 9th floor as is the green roof above it.

Vancouver Public Library

The whole thing is all very nicely presented but I have to confess a feeling of being underwhelmed. The new space did get quite a lot of notice in the media, so I suppose I was expecting something more.

Vancouver Public Library

Vancouver Public Library

Vancouver Public Library

Movable tables and chairs are a very good idea. Maybe as the plantings grow and more people start to use the space, things will look better. No doubt sunshine will help but frankly the view is unimpressive. Not much of our glorious setting is visible from here – just the towers and the roof of the stadium

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Written by Stephen Rees

October 3, 2018 at 4:55 pm

Vancouver Election Candidates

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There are a lot of them. I picked my short list mostly based on party identification: Green, COPE and Vision plus a couple of independents. I did not expect the reaction that got on Twitter and Facebook.

Last night I had no light fiction reading to while away the small hours so I read the Vancouver Voters’ Guide which has the candidates’ statements and is the next best thing. We picked that up yesterday at the Community Centre. Apparently reading printed paper is supposed to be more soporific than a lighted screen. If you want to you can read the same stuff online – in fact if you are going to vote I think you probably should. There are lots to choose from and these profiles at least will help you narrow down your own list. The city has simply copied what they wrote – and some are barely literate. Others just spout their party’s line. One or two are well over the line – and a depressing number of mayoral and council candidates seem to have little understanding of what the City Council actually does. Parks and School Board candidates are generally better at that.

Only one failed to provide anything at all: Margaret Haugen, who is running for Park Board, and deserves no votes at all for her neglect. I would also warn against Jason Lamarche for Mayor who thinks control of illegal immigrants is a high priority, and Sophia Kaiser who needs to learn how to write. Here is a paragraph of her bio selected at random

AbsoluteObediencetoAbsoluteANATHEMAObedience: 153ArchonDemon-Indoctrinations PossessingMe/

Somehow she managed to get a much longer entry than anyone else. Most of it as incomprehensible as that quote. I cannot imagine a Council Meeting if she were to command the floor.

I would also suggest you make your list early and take it to one of the advance voting places (community centres or City Hall) to avoid the lineups that will bedevil election day.

I would also suggest you look at the very short entry for Ken Denike who thinks he is entitled to continue his reign at the School Board largely on his conviction that you will already know all about him. Of course if you vote NPA or BC Liberal you already do, so why are you reading this?

I voted

Written by Stephen Rees

October 2, 2018 at 10:50 am

Posted in politics, Vancouver