They are here: my favorite colors and favorite scents
ringing in my favorite time of year - autumn!
Transitioning from drought and the laid back feeling of summer, we are
now embracing the crisp and vibrant ambiance of fall with foliage
resplendant in fiery colors, while weekly monsoons have gifted our lawns
with an emerald green and soft earth in which to plant bulbs for next
Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year are kicking on
and soon we can expect our first snows of winter to cover the landscape
in quiet, monochromatic hues. And with the ever changing seasons come the
harsh effects that weather and time visit on our structures.
And, appropo, showing the detrimental effects of weather,
many seasons, but mostly structural failings and its age, is Falling Water,
the iconic architectural wonder now turning 75, designed by Frank Lloyd
Wright. .... Happy
As a young designer in the Chicago area, I had
extraordinary opportunities with the American
Interior Designers (ASID) to visit a number of restored
Wright residential masterpieces and later Taliesen West, the Frank
Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in Scottsdale, Arizona. While I find
Wright's renderings to be sublime and his buildings fascinating, organic
and sculptural, many of the houses, from my perspective, with their
cramped spaces would be quite uncomfortable by today's standards!
Given abundant news coverage concerning recent earthquake
damage to the National Cathedral and the Washington Monument, combined
with perpetual damage to far less illustrious buildings from wind, rain
and seasonal adjustments, I would like to share a small part of the
restoration process of Fallingwater
as recounted by Suzanne
LeBarre of Fast Company. Ms. LeBarre, who wrote a cheeky and
not so surprising article on Wright's masterpiece, detailed the efforts
involved to make sure that the building does not totally disintegrate.
With that in mind...
As it turns 75, Suzanne LeBarre asked, "How Is It
Institute of Architects pays tribute with a comprehensive
microsite that includes an interactive feature on Fallingwater’s (many)
structural repairs. Fallingwater has turned 75. Which is pretty amazing
considering that the thing probably should’ve keeled over ages ago. Frank
Lloyd Wright’s photogenic masterpiece was a structural catastrophe. Even
before the client, Pittsburgh businessman Edgar Kaufmann, had a chance to
move in, the famed cantilevered concrete balconies betrayed evidence of
deflection. By the 1990s, the place had aged so badly, its sagging
terraces were sorely obvious and cracks veined the parapet beams. Tests
showed that the concrete was stressed to 95% of its failure strength.
All of which the American
Institute of Architects (AIA), the society of professional
architects, documents dutifully in a concise interactive graphic on the
(many) structural repairs at Fallingwater.
The graphic is part of a larger package honoring the house on its 75th
birthday. It includes photographs, an interview with Fallingwater’s
director, and glowing anecdotes from architects on what Fallingwater
means to them.
In many ways, though, it’s the structural failures that
tell us more about Wright--and the phenomenal boundlessness of his
ego--than any doxology ever could. We learn, for instance, that Kaufmann
had doubts about the building’s structural stability at the outset, so he
tapped consulting engineers to vet Wright’s plans. Sure enough, they
determined that the concrete and steel in the main floor girders needed
at least double the proposed reinforcement. Wright balked mightily at the
suggestion that his plans fell short; Kaufmann backed down. Years later,
after Kaufmann's son donated the house to a conservation society,
preservationists had to sink millions of dollars into fixing what Wright
refused to address early on.