Thoughts and Views from Megan

Monday, September 26, 2005

International and Organicism Comparison

Architectural Theory I
Professor William J. Carpenter FAIA PhD
September 26, 2005

International Style Compared to Organicism

International style ideals with three different principles: emphasis on volume, regularity and avoidance of applied ornament. Organic architecture is the reinterpretation of nature through the structure and materials in the context of the site.

An example of an International Style building is the Bauhaus by Walter Gropius in Dessau, Germany in 1926. Here the building is of large masses but is constructed in such a way that the mass itself is dissolved. The building has regularity to it instead of being symmetrical or balanced. It stands and defines itself as a building. With the clean lines and the selection of material, Gropius avoided applied ornament as much as he could. There is ornament present, but the non functional ornament isn’t.

If you look at the building and site, it is almost as if the Bauhaus could be placed on any site in any location. It is as if it isn’t site pacific.

The Harris House, by Rudolph Michael Schindler, is his most literal expression to unite architecture and nature (of his Los Angeles homes). It is a small one-person household located on top of a hill over looking the valley and mountains surrounding. The upper part of roof top is flattened, house situated on the highest part of the slope, and garage is under the house. The house sits on top of a bolder that is used as part of its foundation, integrating nature with the stability of the structure.

The house takes the site specific elements and is designed around the parameters that is present, integrating the structure with nature.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Organicism Outline

Architectural Theory 1
Professor William J. Carpenter FAIA PhD


1. Intro into Organicism

2. Frank Lloyd Wright
1. Born in Wisconsin on June 8, 1867
2. 1st studied civil engineering
3. Worked as a draftsman for Adler & Sullivan
B. International Style
1. Wright was up against his younger colleagues (Le Corbusier, Mies, Gropius, and Oud)
2. Wright thought of himself as the most advanced and ` accomplished architect in the world
3. Colleagues proving to be just as good, this caused Wright to fight against the ‘sterile” new buildings for the rest of his life
4. “He called the European Modernists “predatory internationalists” and cautioned against listening to their propaganda”
5. He thought Hitchcock and Johnson were trying to “hinder and betray native progress”
Organic Architecture
1. One of the 1st architects to have a style based on a spatial conception of interpenetrating planes and abstract masses
2. Form and Function are one, comes from Sullivan's idea that Form Follows Function
3. Sullivan: His buildings and there design was an outward expression of a belief that architecture and society had their roots in a natural order. This influenced Wright
4. He didn’t want the homes to represent nature, it should be a reinterpretation of nature and its character
Japanese architecture
1. Refined proportions, great carpentry, unique materials, and the subtle placement in nature
2. He wanted the interior and exterior to blend seamlessly
3. The exterior should represent what is inside
1. Parti inspired Prairie Houses
2. Central Fireplace taken from the tokonoma (alcove in the center room that displayed some form of art, this is the central focus in the Japanese home)
3. Main area is the jodannoma it is in the center of the home with the tokonoma on the main wall, all the other spaces are around this area and open to each other
F. The Prairies House
1. The character of the house was once described to be determined by the land and the trees on the land
2. The houses details must be coordinated with themselves as well as the entire site as a whole
3. He liked to oversee the construction, especially the details
4. Build-in- furniture
5. Brick fireplace at the heart of the home
6. Kitchen designed around the usage
7. Large informal living rooms
8. Specialty rooms according to the client such as a playroom or music room
9. Horizontal lines, low roofs that extend out onto the site
10. The scale of the house is toned down by separating it into 4 wings across the land
11. Stained glass, lead glass windows
12. The space inside was more important than the enclosure of each room, he opened the box
Looking back on the Prairie House:
1. Reduce parts of house to a minimum
2. Keep house off best area of land so it is available to use and be seen
3. Eliminate walls (box feeling)
4. Pull the basement up out of the ground to raise the other floors up for a better view
5. Make all openings between outdoors and indoors have a human proportion and not to have the feel of a punched opening in a wall
6. Materials should be unified and natural
7. Incorporate the mechanical and electrical systems into the design
8. Eliminate the decoration

H. Usonian Homes
1. Homes must be livable and affordable
2. This was Wrights final idea of the American family and what they needed
3. His Usonia ideas were how he saw the present and future America
4. He was trying to find the meeting of the elite Prairie Homes and the cheep homes currently for the middle class
5. Still has the open plan
6. Spaces are reduced and only included spaces that were vital to make the house function

I. Text-tile tectonics
1. Designed around construction
2. The shape is determined by the materials- square form
3. Machine made, concrete block
4. Limitation of design is only controlled by the imagination

A. Background
1. Born in Vienna in 1887
2. Degrees in Engineering and Architecture
3. Studied architectural courses under Adolf Los and Otto Wagner
4. 1914 Ventured to Chicago
5. Worked for Frank Lloyd Wright
6. Worked and lived with life-long friend, Richard Neutra.
7. Died of cancer on August 22, 1953.
B. Connection to Wright
1. Attempted contact through letters
2. Met him for the first time on December 10,1914
3. Began to work for Wright in 1918
4. Wright sent him to Los Angeles in 1920 as project architect for the hollyhock house.
5. 1921-22 he built Kings Road House and started to take on projects for himself
6. In 1929, while applying for LA architects license, he mentioned his extensive work on the architectural and structural plans of Imperial Hotel. Wright refused to validate these claims and the never reconciled until 1953, less than a year before Schindler’s death.
C. Views on Architecture
1. He felt the architect needed to control: Space, climate, light, and mood
2. Three different types of living areas: indoors, enclosed court and roof terrace, each communicating naturally with the others.
3. The private outdoor areas were hidden
4. Experimented with materials:
Concrete and wood
Stucco over wood frame
“Plaster skin”
“Schindler Frame”
Corrugated fiberglass
D. Kings Road House
1. Schindler’s first building in CA was his own house, built as a duplex.
2. Serves as his residence and studio.
3. The bleanest expression of his principles by connecting the interior and exterior, displays the materical, and demonstrates efficiency and rationality.
4. In the house he combined a number of architectural features: the concrete slab level with a garden, the glass walls with sliding canvas doors to the patio, the shed roof with wide overhangs, the clerestories, the movable nonbearing partitions.
E. Vacation houses, Pueblo Ribera Court
1. Consists of twelve units on a site that slopes gently down the Pacific.
2. Construction is based on a 4-foot module.
3. “Slab-cast construction”: concrete was poured into movable forms.
F. Harris House
1. Small hillside house for a one-person household.
2. Most literal expression to unite architecture and nature in his L.A. homes.
3. The upper part of roof top is flattened, house situated on the highest part of the slope, and garage is under the house.
4. The rock is used as part of the foundation.
5. Wood Frame with a plaster skin.
G. Bethlehem Baptist Church
1. A small church for a Baptist congregation in the south of Los Angeles.
2. Only church commission
3. It replaced a building that had been destroyed by a fire of a busy street in a depressed area.
4. L-shape plan to embrace garden.
5. External and internal walls are banded with horizontal grooves.
H. Kallis House
1. Steep, north-facing slope with a view over Studio City and San Fernando Valley.
2. Existing oak trees determine the form of the building.
3. Built in exposed masonry and wood construction.
4. Slopping walls grew out of the owner’s need for a studio in which light entered at right angles to the roof.

1. Adolf Loos turned Neutra’s mind from the traditional styles and onto the new American architecture.
2. Neutra came to the United States to visit Wright and Sullivan’s work. There he meets Wright and is invited to stay at the Taliesin. There he worked under Wright for a year.
3. Moves to California and works on several projects with Schindler.
Lovell House-1927
1. Structure erected on steep slope, has a series of reinforced concrete portals tying it to the hillside and serving to carry the suspended swimming tank
2. Steel (different from Wright) and shot-air compressed concrete are the exposed building materials. Metal windows are inserted into the steel frame.
Neutra (VDL Research) House-1932
1. Built by Neutra as an experiment, financed by Mr. C.H. Van Der Leeuw
2. Extended the building from lot-line to lot-line to maximize the built space on the site.
3. Indoor and outdoor relationship expressed through large windows and sliding partitions.
Nesbitt House-1942
1. Built during the war without any attempt at luxury.
2. Designed built-in and movable furniture
3. Walls and ceiling are made of California redwood, well harmonized with the brick masonry.
Kaufmann House-1946
1. Pinwheel plan
2. Designed Roof porch, called “Gloriette”
3. Relationship of treated space to nature.

Tremaine House-1947
1. Pinwheel plan
2. Designed at same time as Kaufmann house
3. Lines of low stretching buildings and terraces are interrupted by enourmous stone blocks like sculptures, then again by dense foliage over grotesque tree trunks.

5. Fay Jones
A. Connection with Wright
1. Jones was invited to Taliesin by Frank Lloyd Wright, and spent a summer there learning and working.
2. Jones was influenced by Wright’s nature-centered themes present in his architecture.
3. Jones also took to heart Wright’s assertion that each part should be as a whole as the whole is to each part, which was a central theme of Wright’s organic designs.
4. Unlike some other students of Wright, Jones was not simply a mimic. He took what he learned about organicism and tectonics and then applied his own ideas and experiences to create his own method of design.
B. Other Influences
1. Another major influence on Jones’s designs were the writings and ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendental movement.
2. One key idea that Jones focused on was the idea that all art must complement nature in which beauty, necessity, and usefulness are conjoined.
3. Jones also was influenced by the Craftsman movement and Gustav Stickley, who promoted the integration of a single aesthetic throughout the many parts of the whole.
4. Precedents
5. He used his knowledge of history not as a means to copy the past, but as a way of generating new strategies through interpretation of the past.
6. One of the eras that he had the keenest interest in was the Gothic era, the evidence of which is found in some his most famous chapels, Thorncrown Chapel and Cooper Chapel.
C. Relationship with Nature
1. Fay Jones sought to design buildings that connected with their natural surroundings as well as respect their surroundings.
2. His architecture responds to the beauty of nature without damaging it.
3. Jones used a simple yet effective palette of materials in such a way that the unique attributes of each material were utilized as fully as possible.
4. Jones preferred to use materials that were native to the area as a way to foster an inherent connection between building and site.
D. Pine Knoll
1. Pine Knoll conformed to Wright’s idea that a house on a hill should not sit directly on top of the crest, but rather it should be situated on one side or the other. The influence of Wright is apparent in the horizontality of the composition as well as a plan that opens up to the outdoors.
2. Little Rock, Arkansas - 1964
3. Stoneflower
4. Stoneflower combined two shelter prototypes that Jones employed: the tree house and the cave. The upper floor is elevated among the forest canopy, and has a very simple, straightforward plan. The lower level is enclosed by stone, and features a bathing grotto.
5. One unifying element is the simple yet effective method of ventilation that draws cool air from the lower level by natural convection and allows hotter air to escape through operable windows mounted on the eaves.
6. Eden Isle, Arkansas - 1965
E. Edmondson Residence
1. The client was concerned with preserving the natural beauty of the site, so Jones had the construction crew carry in the materials by hand so the site would suffer minimal disturbance.
2. Although the Edmondson residence does not share the strong horizontality of Wright’s Prairie style, it does incorporate Wright’s idea of a fully integrated composition from the trellis to the dishware.
3. Forrest City, Arkansas - 1983

F. Thorncrown Chapel
1. Thorncrown’s proportioning was inspired by a Gothic chapel, Sainte Chappelle, but the composition of the walls, crossbracing, and roof make it a natural fit for the wooded site. The use of glass walls further helps to dematerialize the division between the inside and outside of the building.
2. The palette of materials was kept to a minimum to achieve maximum simplicity: stone floor and perimeter walls, glass walls, and wood structural pieces.
3. Eureka Springs, Arkansas – 1980