Sunday, July 31, 2005

Frank Lloyd Wright home faces costly repairs

Associated Press

RIVERSIDE, Ill. - A half century ago, Carolyn Howlett and her husband saved a dilapidated Frank Lloyd Wright carriage house from demolition, filled it with their own paintings and photographs and restored it with loving care.

Preservationists say the home in this village just west of Chicago likely would be long gone were it not for Howlett - now a 91-year-old widow suffering from Alzheimer's disease. But now the structure's hallmark clay tile roof needs to be replaced, and Howlett does not have the nearly quarter-million dollars needed to restore it.

The public guardian with legal authority over her estate has proposed a solution that local preservation societies say would mar the structure's historic integrity: a $14,000 asphalt roof.

The situation has put preservationists in an awkward spot. They want to keep the home's design, but they don't want to displace Howlett.

"Everybody would much rather ... see the right kind of roof on a Frank Lloyd Wright house," said David Bahlman, president of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois. "(But) it's hard to tell her ... that she's going to have to sell the house to someone who can afford to put the right roof on. You can't do that either."

It is the first case in which a Wright-designed home in need of restoration is under the financial control of a public guardian, according to Audra Dye, program director for the Wright Conservancy. The nonprofit organization works to preserve Wright-designed buildings.

Typically, when the owner of a Wright home cannot afford expensive restoration work, the residence is sold to a nonprofit landmark group, which has a better shot at getting grant money from preservation societies.

But Howlett's closest living relative, nephew Norm Sobol, said he does not plan to sell the house, which is part of a large estate built by Avery Coonley, heir to an industrial fortune.

Public Guardian Robert Harris earlier this month petitioned the Riverside Preservation Commission to put on the asphalt roof. The commission, which must approve major changes because of the home's landmark status, has yet to decide the issue.

Three local preservation groups say they hope to present Harris with alternatives to the asphalt fix.

"We'll talk about creative ways to solve the problem," said John Thorpe, a board member of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. "Nobody's got a quarter-million dollars sitting around."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Gordon House a Usonian house by Frank Lloyd Wright Posted by Picasa

The Gordon House at Oregon Garden

The Gordon House is the only Wright-designed building in Oregon and the only one in the Pacific Northwest that is open to the public.

The house was designed to follow Wright's “Usonian” model, a design concept that changed the course of small house construction. His innovations included an open floor plan, gravity floor heat, carports, cantilevered roofs with broad overhangs and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Wright designed the home in 1957 for Conrad and Evelyn Gordon for their farm on the south side of the Willamette River in Wilsonville. The house was completed in 1964, and the Gordons lived there for over thirty years.

Descendants of the Gordons sold the property in 2000. The new owners agreed to donate the property to the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy with a requirement that the house be moved off the property. In January, 2001, The Oregon Garden agreed to move the house by a March 15 deadline. The house was moved 24 miles south to The Oregon Garden where it was restored and dedicated as a public museum in March 2002.

Guided tours of the house are $5 and begin on the top of the hour. Those purchasing a $2 tram shuttle ticket in The Oregon Garden also receive a narrated introduction and self-guided preview tour of the main floor. Preview tours begin every 20 min.

Oregon Gardens

Monday, July 04, 2005

FLW Foundatation receives large donation.

T. Denny Sanford gave the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation 425 thousand dollars, and this money will free up another 425 thousand in a matching grant. The 850 thousand dollars is the largest cas donatiion the foundation has ever received and wiil go for much needed repairs at Taliesin, Wright's home in Spring Green.

The money from Sanford's gift and matching grant will go to immediate roof repairs and start work on the repair plan.

Sanford is chairman of First Premier Bank, Premier Bankcard and First Premier Capital in South Dakota.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Internationally renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright came to Scottsdale in 1937 to build his winter camp, Taliesin West.

Creating a new form of desert architecture, Wright established a legacy that is seen throughout Scottsdale. His influence is still on display throughout the city’s resorts and spas, churches and homes.

This summer, Taliesin West will host some of their more popular tours for visitors including Night Lights on the Desert, which treats visitors to the magical view of Wright's desert masterpiece lit from within. The effect rendered is the transformation of the buildings into oversized sculptures framed by dramatic views of the city shimmering below. Night Lights is offered Friday evenings at 6:30, 7:00 and 7:30 p.m.

And don’t think architecture can only be admired by adults. Through the summer months, children can learn about Frank Lloyd Wright as part of the Architecture Discovery Tours. Tailored to children, this tour provides an overview of the importance of architecture in daily life; the role of an architect; and how math, science, and shapes, colors and patterns of nature were used by Wright.

The tour is offered weekdays at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. For more information, visit or call (480) 860-2700.

Friday, July 01, 2005

FLW Building Conservancy Annual Conference

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Annual ConferenceHistoric Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, California, October 19 – 23, 2005


During the years between the two World Wars, Frank Lloyd Wright and some of his most innovative followers found Los Angeles to be a place of special promise, as did many in the arts. Wright’s strong ties with the city began, in fact, in 1917, with his commissions from Aline Barnsdall for a series of buildings that would have transformed her beloved Olive Hill. Only Hollyhock house and two related residences were realized, but Wright’s sweeping vision for the site embodied a new, more urban sense of scale that presaged much of his later work. Sensing opportunities that the rapidly expanding city would provide, Wright even opened an office in Los Angeles following his return from Japan in 1922, briefly entering into partnership with his son, Lloyd Wright. During the years that followed, stimulated by new clients and new terrain, he developed architectural prototypes of far-reaching consequence. Exploring advanced building technologies and untried geometric patterns, he addressed a broad range of issues affecting the city, most critically suburban development and vehicular traffic. In his experiments with custom-designed concrete blocks, he sought an expressive, yet affordable building system of masonry units. Four realized houses of 1923-24 (Millard, Storer, Freeman, and Ennis) suggest the greater potentials of his unrealized schemes, most notably the Doheny Ranch development (1923) for what is now part of Beverly Hills.

Wright soon closed his Los Angeles office and returned to Taliesin, but Lloyd Wright remained, producing pioneering work of his own and establishing strong ties with the Hollywood community. Among Wright’s other Los Angeles progeny, two who apprenticed with him in the 1920s—Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra—pushed further in defining a new architecture for the area. Their continued explorations of new building technologies, and their perceptive responses to a suburbanizing, automobile-oriented city, distinguish the period. Before its close, Wright himself received new commissions within the region. As the Sturges house (1939) shows, he had begun to explore a new vocabulary. To supervise its construction he sent a young apprentice: John Lautner, one of a new generation of followers who would help shape Los Angeles in the post-War period. The careers of these younger architects, together with later Los Angeles work by Wright and his older progeny, will be the subject of a future Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy conference.

Request a conference brochure

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