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Online Event: Fallingwater: World Heritage Preserved

Preservation Talk: The David & Gladys Wright House: The Saved Treasure

Announcing the Larry Woodin Easement Opportunity Fund

Frank Lloyd Wright and World Heritage in the United States

Part One in a series about “The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright” World Heritage listing

Reading the Signs

“Bring out the nature of the materials. Let their nature intimately into your scheme. The good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but one which makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built.”
~Frank Lloyd Wright

 

In the first couple of years after we bought Frank Lloyd Wright’s Brandes House, in Sammamish, Washington, I noticed an unusual pleasure. In late January, the week of my daughter’s birthday, the large tree that stands outside our living room casement windows would bloom. That yellow-orange witch hazel marked the start of the blooming cycle of our winter garden, much of it planted and conceived by Mimi Brandes with the help and consultation of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Following that remarkable blossoming, which always led me to think of our own family’s winter bloom of life, and just to the tree’s left, the pink star magnolia would startle to life, a harbinger of spring. Soon, an inflorescence would follow on the next tree to the left, the gorgeous but tiny florets on our towering crimson maple, and then finally, in late summer, as a spectacular finale, as a completion to this gorgeous counterclockwise sweep around the living and sleeping quarters of the home, the delicate, elongated china white flowers on a multi-tiered dogwood would unfold.

A tree floricycle? I don’t know. Leave it to the experts to decide. I can only tell you that Mimi Brandes, the wife of the original owner and builder of Brandes House, was a landscaping contributor at Sunset Magazine and a master gardener. We know (from documents found at the Avery Library at Columbia University) that she worked with Wright on the design for the gardens and today we enjoy the now-mature results of her work.

But that is not why I am bringing up this fascinating tiny fact about our wonderful and difficult grounds. It is because of the start date — late January. While the trees still bloom in order, the date is no longer the same. That late January beginning for the witch hazel has crept earlier and earlier. This year, the first blooms appeared in early December, close to two months ahead of schedule. The winter bloom, which reminded me so much of the flower that is my daughter, was losing its tether to the seasons. Or perhaps it was trying to tell me something.

The “Heat Dome” in the Seattle area (which includes Sammamish) last July came as a surprise. But perhaps I should have expected it. Perhaps our trees were sending a warning. All of a sudden, it seemed, the state known for rain was facing days of parching, unprecedented heat. Why, I wonder, were we surprised?

Lindholm House Move Featured on CBS Sunday Morning

2020 Wright Spirit Award Honorees Announced

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy announces the 2020 recipients of the Wright Spirit Award, which recognizes owners and stewards of Wright buildings and others who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to preserving and restoring the remaining built works designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and enhancing appreciation of Wright’s legacy.

This year’s Wright Spirit Awards will be presented on Saturday, November 14 during the Conservancy’s first-ever virtual conference. The awards ceremony, underwritten by Ron and Jan Scherubel, will stream live online beginning at 7:00 p.m. Central time as a part of the closing Gala event. The stream will be free to access and open to the public. Full conference details will be available soon.

 

PRIVATE CATEGORY

David and Joyce McArdle
Owners, Fredrick House, Barrington Hills, Illinois
For restoration of the Fredrick House

Michael Pinkus and Julie Wilsker
Owners, Serlin House, Pleasantville, New York
For restoration of the Serlin House and leadership in the stewardship of the Usonia landscape

Susan and Jack Turben
Owners, Staley House, North Madison, Ohio
For stewardship and succession planning for the Staley House

 

PUBLIC CATEGORY

The Office of the Governor, State of New York
The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, State of New York
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
For leadership and funding of the restoration of Martin House, Buffalo

 

PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY

HHL Architects
Matthew W. Meier, AIA, Partner
As architects for the Martin House restoration

Bayer Landscape Architecture
Mark H. Bayer, ASLA, Principal
As landscape architects for the Martin House landscape restoration

Toshiko Mori Architect
Toshiko Mori, FAIA, Principal
As architect of the Martin House Visitor Center

 

SPECIAL HONORS

University of Victoria Legacy Art Galleries (British Columbia)
For the return of seven art glass windows in their collection to their original location in Martin House

David Romero
For his meticulous and evocative computer recreations of lost and unbuilt Wright buildings

Lindholm House Reopens in Pennsylvania

Tackling the Textile Block

John Waters, AIA, is the Conservancy’s preservation programs manager.

In late May I met with University of Southern California faculty members Trudi Sandmeier and Ken Breisch, as well Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation trustee Heather Lenkin, at Wright’s 1924 Freeman House in Los Angeles. Sandmeier, who is director of the Graduate Programs in Heritage Conservation at USC, is the current faculty liaison with the house, which has been owned by the USC School of Architecture since the mid-1980s.

The last of Wright’s Los Angeles textile block houses, the Freeman House is a fascinating site for the discussion of preservation issues. Soon after occupying the house, the Freemans brought in another major figure of 20th-century architecture, Rudolph Schindler, to make alterations, which he continued to do until his death in 1953. These modifications included built-in furniture, cabinetry and the altering of certain walls, as the Freemans adjusted the house to their lifestyles. Schindler’s interventions make for a complex site with a layered history, where preservation concepts, such as “period of significance” are not easily addressed. Additionally, the experimental nature of Wright’s textile blocks made them a challenging material from the beginning. Last, but certainly not least, the house suffered significant damage during the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

On this visit, we were not only able to experience the spectacular view looking south from the living room down Highland Avenue, we examined the extensive reinforcing work done after Northridge to stabilize the main portion of the house. The process of reinforcing included the replacement of certain original textile block walls with reinforced concrete walls, the installation of steel trusses that span the living room roof, and, least conspicuously, the pouring of concrete caissons and piers that support both the house’s north, street-side wall, and the street itself.