Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Road Trip


I feel the word connection works better with this. In history class we must find connections among what happened in the past to where design is now. The history we learn can give a precedent to design ideas in the future. Thomas Jefferson used pantheon as a precedent for his design at Monticello. He also received inspiration from the domes in Rome to design his very own home. He looked to the past in order to move forward into the future.

Both Thomas Jefferson and Frank Lloyd Wright were looking to design something that defined American architecture. They both found these American roots in different ways. Thomas Jefferson went back to the Roman style of architecture but with his own unique changes to it. He received inspiration from the pantheon in Rome to build the pavilion at the University of Virginia with its U-shaped pavilion and the L-shaped Rotunda attached to it. He has the main building with arms stretching out in the land. It is as if the arms are attaching the pantheon looking building into the land like roots do a tree. The same holds true for his house Monticello. There is the main building with the arms stretching outwards. Frank Lloyd Wright, however, wanted to move away from anything that had been done before and, thus, came up with his own unique style that he felt we should go in American architecture. His design at Fallingwater has the house with cantilevered into the land. Instead of arms rooting itself into the ground his design is like the house is hovering over the water and the water is what is holding the building secure. Monticello and UVA was built onto the land, whereas Fallingwater was built into the land.

As designers we must all have a concept to start the design process. The Sculptured House by Charles Deaton, the concept he had for his house was “People aren’t people aren’t squares, so why should they live in squares?” He designed his own home first as a sculpture and then put in the floor plan. His work is livable art. I feel that his concept of creating a home that does not have any room with a straight wall fits humans more than the houses today. His work shows that form is important when designing. The Sculptured House also allows light to hit in the key areas of the house, where the panels of windows are and the less important features are in the back. This is just like art, the artist will highlight its most prominent features of a sculpture and hide the ones that are not.

At Fallingwater and Monticello we learned about different materials the designers used and how they define the designs. At Fallingwater, the concrete slabs are cantilevered above the natural stone of the land. Frank Lloyd Wright wanted to create a space that was built into the land instead of a house that was simply built onto the land. His creation of stone and the natural elements that make up Fallingwater makes it seem like the water is rushing right underneath the house and the house is one with the natural materials. In studio we were to research three different materials and find out how they were used, the cost, and availability of the materials. The materials I had were silk, glass block, and rice paper. All of the materials I had known prior to the research, but I found out a lot of different design ideas from them. I learned how silk is made by insects and takes a long process to make. The knowledge we have about different materials helps decision making easier, if the resource information is already known.

At Fallingwater, there is a lot of compression/release happening. The hallways are dark and narrow leading to the private areas of the house, and when a person finally gets to the bedroom they are let out into a very bright open room. This design innovation is used to distinguish different areas from one another. The dark hallways deter unwanted guests from the private areas, and the release in the open areas, makes the viewer feel more at ease in the space.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Between Silence and Light

Between Silence and Light

Craft is something to pay close attention to when designing a space. The care and time we put into the craft of our design really shows when it comes to the overall finished product. At falling water there was a craft issue during the construction process. The Kaufmann’s discussed the structure of the building with a group of engineers, who told the Kaufmann’s that the building would require additional support. Wright was outraged upon hearing of this, but the support was added and the result was added weight. Furthermore, the steel was laid to close together causing a weakening in the slab. Also no attention was given to the deflection that would occur when the scaffolding was removed. This minor craft error allowed the cantilevers to sag 10% when the scaffolding was removed. Kaufman Sr. and Wright would have many heated arguments over the issue but eventually the contractor was removed and construction continued. Over the years the cantilevers sagged more and more until it was deflected around 30% more than it was supposed to be. A group from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy invested in restoring the cantilevers. They carefully removed the floor inserted steel rods into the concrete that pulled the concrete back to its intended position, and then replaced the floor. Had no one paid attention to craft of the building it might not still be around for us to appreciate and enjoy. I pay close attention to my craft in my projects, because if something is off it takes away from the beauty and enjoyment of the project. For my light project I made sure that my craft was impeccable so that everyone would enjoy it the way I did and not pay attention to errors instead.
The first years went on a trip to Monticello and Falling Water recently and viewed the works of late 19th century and early 20th century designers. I was fascinated by falling water and the use of Frank Lloyd Wright’s way of using a dark tight hall that leads to the private areas makes the viewer feel that this is a space that they are not supposed to be. The public areas are more open and airy feeling giving the viewer the feeling that this is where they can relax and are able to be. These open rooms are the living room and dining room as well as the open land surrounding the house. Technique
In design I feel that all designers have a technique to something that sets them apart from everyone else. Something that is original to them, and when viewing the work, the audience can tell who that piece belongs to. Frank Lloyd Wright designs broke away from the cookie-cutter houses of that time and went in a new direction. His prarie houses

The Sculptured House

Sitting nestled on top of Genesee Mountain in Colorado, is Charles Deaton’s Sculptured House. The house is anything but a cookie-cutter house. People have called the house a “clamshell”, “spaceship,” “mushroom,” “eyeball,” and “taco” Charles Deaton however, perfered sculptured. Afterall, that is how the house was originally made.. Deaton knew when he began the plaster sculpture that it would eventually end up as a house that he himself would live in. He did not want to “simply wrap a shell around a floor plan” He did not even choose a scale until the sculpture was completed. Deaton was a naturalist and found the naturally occurring curves and shapes to be fascinating. It is no wonder he chose such a curvilinear house to be his own.
Charles Deaton was a self taught architect and industrial engineer. He was born to a poor family in New Mexico in the time of the great depression. He moved to Colorado, and this is where he was thirty-four, and this is where he would live for the rest of his life. He did small jobs here and there, but his career did not take off until he got the architectural job at Central Bank and Trust in downtown Denver (sitation) Deaton invisioned the bank as a sculpture and created a plan based on that. This bank would be the precedent for his masterpiece. Another precedent for the Sculptured House, was his bank he created in 1961, the Wyoming National Bank in Casper. “The most distinctive feature was the banking-room pavilion expressed on the building's exterior. Looking something like a flying saucer in which petal-shaped wedges of concrete surround a pierced dome” (Citation)

Deaton designed the house in 1963 as the “house you could live in”. (citation) The house was Deaton’s only residential project that he would create in his lifetime. As mentioned earlier Deaton designed the house for him and his family to live in. Although due to financial trouble he would never be able to do so. His motto was always “People People aren’t angular so why should they live in rectangles?” The first step of the process was to anchor the precast pedestal piers into the bedrock with steel rods. The steel supports a welded cage of steel substructure that is covered with metal wire mesh. The concrete is then poured on top of the mesh and the final step was adding the protective Hypalon. “The Hypalon was infused with white pigment along with walnut shells that “create a textured appearance and added structural integrity due to their extreme hardness.” (Citation)

The house faced many problems over time due do various reasons. The estimated cost of the house when it was finished in 1966 was $100,000 and $120,000 to build. However, the interior still was not finished because Deaton ran out of money. The house sat vacant for quite a while, and Deaton sank further into financial debt due to faltering architectural business and a lawsuit on one of his buildings. To combat the debt he put the Scuptured house on the market in 1988 and did not sell until 1991 for $800,000 to Larry Polhill. Polhill, then spent 150,000 to blast the exterior clean, but the “house fell into disrepair after partying teens broke nearly every window” (citation) Polhill cut his losses and moved to California leaving the house to become inhabited by wild animals. The house was in serious consideration for being demolished. . By the late 1990s, the Sculptured House was one of the most endangered historic buildings in Colorado. Luckily, Polhill sold the house to John Huggins, who was extremely interested in the house. Huggins bought the house in 1999 at the cost of the land an estimated 1.3 million and put another 2 million into the interior of the house.

The interior designer would be no other than Deatons daughter Charlee Deaton and Husband Nicholas Antonopoulos, whom studied under Charles Deaton. Together they designed the interior and constructed another 5,000 square foot addition that Deaton himself had previously designed. The house was to be “a work of art” in itself the furniture was picked out to stand as art as well. “The pair selected brightly colored furniture by renowned modernist designers Warren Plattner, Eero Saarinen and George Nelson, as well as a purple ribbon chair by Pierre Paulin, an orange-lacquered credenza by Robert Loewy and a puzzle couch by Roberto Matta” (citation) Charlee felt her father was a minimalist so she chose exotic natural finishes and details that would not over power her fathers work. The watermelon-seed shaped beds and dining chairs were furniture that Charles Deaton designed and fit well in the house. The house is made up of long halls of windows and cutouts for rooms. The light effects that are in the house give the house even more character. The cutout in the master bath is in the shape of a cat eye that lets light glimmer off of the mosaic tile. The huge open span of the front of the house allows the viewer to look out off the mountain top of Genesee Mountain.

The interior was finally complete in 2000, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. However,Charles Deaton never saw the interior completed. He died in 1996 before Huggins even bought the house.Huggins sold the house to Michael Dunahay in 2006, who purchased the house for $3.45 million. He was the first to ever actually occupy the home. Huggins never lived in the house he only used the house for social events. After nearly fifty years of remaining vacant the house is finally being used for its original purpose. Dunahay has no intention of ever selling the house.

When asked the question if architecture is art, the Sculptured House is full proof that it is. The house was based off a sculpture and is now livable art. The house sits proud on top of Genesee mountain showing off its beauty to the world. Charles Deaton would be proud to look at his residential masterpiece and the changes it went through to be standing here today.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

[Re] Actions

In design there is always rotation from one source to the next. Everything goes in a continuous cycle that eventually starts back at the original design or source. In history we have been learning a lot about how history has shaped design and there was a rotation in design patterns. As we learned at the very beginning Rome and Greece shaped the world through their designs. They were the foundations for the different design patterns throughout the rest of the world from then on. After the American Revolution the Americans wanted to break away from the Roman style that Great Britain had adapted over the years, and instead go towards Greece in their designs. They wanted to revive the past in a different way thus starting a whole new rotation of thoughts. The Baltimore Cathedral revived the Grecian Ionic columns. The portico was “Supported by some of the most beautifully carved Grecian Ionic colums of the period.” (Roth 461) The Romans had borrowed from the Greeks and now that the Roman style of designing was being challenged the cycle was being started over again by the Americans. All designs have to go through a cycle where the designer must go back to their original source and start over reworking the idea further to make a better design for the customer.
There were a lot of movements going on in the 19th century, both physically and in design as well. People were relocating and moving due to the industrial revolution. Factories were being built and workers were needed everywhere. The urban growth was popular as well. People were moving from rural spaces out into the urban areas. This influx of people caused places like Paris to be rebuilt and reshaped to add order and for health reasons. The sewers were draining into the river where the town got the water from. “When Napoleon became emperor in 1852 he embarked on a rebuilding of the city of Paris” (Roth 491) the town was demolished and the new city went up housing parks and new sewers and it restructured the town to new architecture to house all the people and no longer be a health hazard. Another movement in design was the arts and crafts movement. “To create a fully and contemporary environment was the pivotal aim of the movement” (Massey 33) William Morris was obsessed with going back to the guilds and design without machines. He felt the Crystal palace and the objects in it were all bad design. He set out to reform the design standards. His reformation led to the arts and craft movement and was “fee of any attempt at deliberate copying” (Roth 493). Design can cause a movement across the world. Items seen in Paris may be reproduced in America. This movement of ideas is all about what makes the design revolution unique and inspiring. We all want to be inspired and inspire those around us with our designs.
Reflection to me is capturing light and mirroring it back to the viewer. In Versailles I the king’s goal of was to show off his power and having it all relate back to himself. He did this through the elaborate gardens and even more so in the hall of mirrors. The hall of mirrors reflects back the beauty of the outdoors and brings it indoors to command the space as explained by Roth “Windows face the gardens westward and banks of mirrors on the opposite walls reflect the light throughout the room” (Roth 419). This reflecting back of ideas also can be looking back on designs and seeing was wrong and correct about the project. Designs are never right the first time, and we must look back at our work and redo it until it is correct. That is what makes designers so successful. Is being able to look back at their work and recreate it into something new and innovative.
Source is going back to the origins of designs. I feel that source and rotation go hand in hand. In order for a rotation to occur there must be an original source. It is like a precedent in where it’s an initial idea where designs are built off of. In the 19th century the designers were reviving the past in their own unique ways. “Architects were turning increasingly to specific source models, in a wide variety of historical styles, resulting in revivals of Greek and Roman Classicalism.” (Roth 461) These sources made American design what it is today. In studio we were to find a natural object and design our wooden creation around it. I found a cherry blossom tree and designed a wood feature that would cast shadows all throughout the project. My source is what made me think about the different aspects of the design and how it correlated to my wood project.
Illumination is highlighting a feature of the design. It is all about creating the correct hierarchy of the space in order to make that object, color, space, really shine. Everything that makes up a space must have one selling feature that makes the space unique and special. This is what we as designers must do in order to create a successful design. Our projects in studio were to be illuminated by natural light. I created a “coral like” feature that had folding layers to capture the light and create shadows throughout the piece.