Friday, November 05, 2004

What this country needs is a good five-thousand dollar house!

That is what Herbert & Katherine Jacobs said to Frank Lloyd Wright in 1937. Wright said "Would you really want a five-thousand dollar house? Most people want a ten-thousand dollar house for five-thousand dollars". What developed was a low cost custom home designed for the average man.

This was the first of Wright’s famed "Unsonian" designs, a dwelling "of and for" the United States. Its in-floor heating, sandwich walls, carport, and corner windows influenced residential architecture around America and led the Royal Institute of British Architecture to declare it one of the twenty most important buildings of the twentieth century.

In each of these designs Wright expressed his principles of organic architecture. All of the houses were built of readily available materials left as unadorned as possible. Each design was site-specific to take advantage of the view and terrain. The typical Usonian floor plan included small entryways, narrow passages, large central fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows. The designs were tailored to each individual client.

"We can never make the living room big enough, the fireplace important enough, or the sense of relationship between exterior, interior and environment close enough, or get enough of these good things I've just mentioned. A Usonian house is always hungry for the ground, lives by it, becoming an integral feature of it."

The"Usonians" represent the culmination of his residential work. Barely 100 were built.

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