FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

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Tom
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FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by Tom »

Whereas what the ancient Greeks did for the column, Frank Lloyd Wright did for the cantilever and
Whereas there are cantilevers and then there are CANTILEVERS -
I would like to place in nomination the 1947 New Canaan, Connecticut house of Marcel Breuer for inclusion into the FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB canon.

Image
Breuer 1 Elevations
The Marcel Breuer Digital Archive rivals that of Wright's at Avery for accesibility and information.
This is the first house Breuer built for himself and his wife in New Canaan Connecticut after moving from Lincoln, Mass.
All four walls of this house are cantilevered off a concrete block basement. the long east and west elevations are cantilevered 2ft. The north and south elevations are cantilevered 9.5ft. There are NO steel structural members in this house and the cables do not support the 9.5ft overhangs. I've always assumed that the diagonal siding on the ends was merely rhetorical. Wrong, they are structural and constitute the main fibers of the canitlever.
On the left-hand side of the East Elevation above, note the pair of posts dashed in behind the diagonal "fibers." They also constitute a structural element of the cantilevers and can be found in the floor plan (Breuer 3) but not in the framing plan (Breuer 2). Also on this page note the called out section plan 6-6 and see Breuer 4.

Image
Breuer 2 Framing Plan
Surprisingly uninformative framing plan. There are 4X4 posts that sit on top of the ends of the paired 2-2x8 joists in plan at both ends (see Breuer 3).
It surprises me that Breuer did not call out for the rim joists to be continuous from the cantilevered end at least as far back as the third 2-2x8 joist from the left.

Image
Breuer 3 Main Floor Plan
The paired 4x4 posts at section A.
See Breuer 5 for section BB.
At each pair of 4x4 posts there is a 1x6 diagonal brace let in to their inside face - see elevations Breuer 1

Image
Breuer 4 Wall Detail
Here is the section cut 6-6 noted from the elevations. The cantilever wall-beam is two layers of opposed diagonal wood. The exterior layer is "diagonal boarding." The inside layer is "diagonal heating." The total wall assembly from the exterior is: diagonal boarding, paper, diagonal sheathing, 2x4 studs, 1.4" plywd

Image
Breuer 5 Wall Section
The 9.5ft section assembly supported by the exterior walls.
Surprising to me, in the entire yet small construction set, these are the only drawings describing the cantilevers.

Image
Breuer 6
I've known this drawing forever, but never studied it. I've always assumed the circle was some weird groovy rhetorical flourish in line with the ornamental diagonal siding. Wrong again. The circle is a cutaway. Breuer used it in his construction sets to show materials. Here it is used to reveal the diagonal sheathing behind and in opposition to the exterior diagonal boarding of the cantilevered wall-beams.

Image
Breuer 7 Detail

SDR
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by SDR »

Thanks, Tom---an interesting subject, and worthy of study. The two-way cantilever is the real challenge, I guess ?

I hadn't seen Breuer's office drawings before; very neat and legible. I'm not seeing what the circular cut-out reveals, in the final ink drawing. Is the diagonal sheathing laid opposite to the diagonal siding ? I suppose it must be . . .

It would be nice to see those drawings open at a larger size. Perhaps your host is limiting the size of your images---but you don't need to reduce them for posting here, as the site automatically caps them at a size that fits on the page.

S

SDR
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by SDR »

Ah--got it; that last blow-up is what I needed.

For those wondering what this house looked like in the flesh:

https://www.artsy.net/artwork/pedro-e-g ... -architect

There are many other photos online, of course.

S

Tom
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by Tom »

I'm interested what the Wright Chat consensus would be on inducting this house into the FLLW-CC?
On the one hand, relative to Wright, it's too prosaic to be given the award.
Yet, on the other hand, I think it's worthy of Wright in terms of its ingenuity and downright denial of conventional technical standards.
But maybe for others it would need, stylistically, to be more Goffesque or like Prince's work to be inducted - one can hardly call this house "organic."
I'm biased toward Breuer's work.

https://breuer.syr.edu/project.php?id=261

SDR
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by SDR »

I like Breuer's work too. But I think it no more Wrightian than Le Corbuser's or Mies's. Each of that trio brought something new to the field; Breuer's work reflects that of Corbu, doesn't it---cantilevering notwithstanding ?

S

SDR
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by SDR »

Two sentences in the piece you linked last are of interest in the present discussion:

"Marine cables did not provide enough support for the porch or its sunshade, and Breuer had to add a stone wall under the northeast corner. Breuer asserted that the diagonal siding of the upper level was a necessary structural component of the cantilevers, but scholars such as Edward R. Ford have contested this assertion."

Ed Ford might be a useful resource for you, Tom ? https://www.amazon.com/Details-Modern-A ... 6650&psc=1

S

Tom
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by Tom »

Ha! I had not read any of that - thank you!
Will do so now. Right off the bat, I'm inclined to disagree with Ford, but interested in what he has to say.
No doubt Breuer's work lies with the "International Style," but something about the ingenuity of these cantilevers seems Wright like to me.
It has something to do with the two ply walls and use of diagonals ...?

SDR
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by SDR »

Well, you can find a diagonally boarded roof truss in more than one Prairie-period Wright house---but that alone wouldn't link the two architects, for me. In this case I'd want to keep the love I feel for these two pioneering architects in separate rooms. But these are feelings we're talking about, and those don't have to recognize rationality or logic ?

S

SDR
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by SDR »

There's a small Breuer house by the water, with end walls diagonally boarded; I can't find it anywhere.

S

SDR
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by SDR »

It's the Caesar house in Lakeville, CT. See about 60% of the way down this page:

https://usmodernist.org/breuer.htm

S

Tom
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by Tom »

Cool. Here's the archive entry:

https://breuer.syr.edu/project.php?id=264

Now:
Seeing as how there are only two participating participants in the Cantilever Club so far and seeing as how there is no consensus between them about the first nomination, I'd say, therefore the nomination fails. It's ok. May we, and anybody else can be on the lookout for further nominees.

Roderick Grant
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by Roderick Grant »

The Cantilever Club may have begun and ended with 2, but perhaps a comment by SDR about admiring Breuer without mixing it with FLW could result in a different sort of club: the Guilty Pleasure Club (GPC). I shall kick things off with a few of my delights beyond the Sun God and his orbital Eloi:

1) La Maison de Verre
Pierre Chareau's 1927-32 House of Glass (31 rue St. Guillaume) is a masterpiece, a style of architecture intended to define a house as "a model made by artisans with a view toward standardization." Modestly tucked behind a street front of old buildings around a court, the glass brick facade breaks with the style of most, if not all, town houses in Paris. From the ground floor gynecology offices of Dr. Dalsace to the top, slipping under an old structure (the tenant on the top floor apartment refused to move out, so the space below was demolished, and the new construction fitted underneath, leaving only the stair tower so she could reach her abode), the structure was all steel structure, plywood panels and rubber tile floors. It is a splendid space, and apparently in mint condition. WWFS? I doubt he would give more than a derisive snort.

2) Villa Mairea
Alvar Aalto's masterpiece is summed up with one adjective: sumptuous, even though it is constructed of modest materials. In my world, Aalto is second only to FLW. Alexander Woolcott said that if he had to reserve the word 'genius' for one person, it would for Frank Lloyd Wright. I think Alvar Aalto would qualify, as well. WWFS? He would have a much more difficult time dissing this house. Whether or not he would have admired it is another thing. But he should have.

3) Charles & Ray Eames Home & Studio
Though much of their career was focused on furniture, what they accomplished in the design and construction of their residence is wonderful. "Off the shelf" is the phrase that defines this house. I don't know who did what in that partnership, but I suspect Ray was to Charles as Charles Greene was to his brother, Henry, George Grant Elmslie to William Gray Purcell. I met Ray in the 80s. She gave me a tour of the house, which was full of all sorts of decorative elements artfully arranged. (Dusting must have been a chore!) She could make a pile of toothpicks look like artwork. WWFS? I believe he would have admired this home and studio for its simplicity, but not its boxy appearance.

4) Carl Larsson House
Carl Larsson was a popular Swedish artist, sort of a mix of Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell. Over a 20-year period, about 1889 to 1909, he turned a plain box of a house (with significant additions) into a work of art. This is a whimsical choice ... but what is life without whimsy? WWFS? He would have loved it!

5) Amedee Ozenfant Studio
My only concession to Corbu is the studio he designed in 1923 for his friend Amedee Ozenfant. On a tiny, difficult lot, he produced the one and only house of his career that followed Sullivan's directive, "Form follows function." It was what the artist wanted and needed. Quirky, but seemingly inevitable. Of course, the house has been 'tamed,' and 'updated,' until now it is rather less interesting than it was originally. WWFS? Another snort of derision.

Let's see how this fares compared to CC, which some might mistake for Culture Club or Cancel Culture.

Tom
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by Tom »

Great idea.
Never heard of Larsson. Charming place, I love it:
https://www.carllarsson.se/en/garden/

Tom
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by Tom »

Regarding Ozenfant Studio:
RG - do you know the story behind the elimination of the saw-tooth skylights? Water failure of some kind?

Roderick Grant
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Re: FLLW CANTILEVER CLUB INDUCTION NOMINATION

Post by Roderick Grant »

That happened a long time ago, before the current 'look' took place. So little about the house has been published, I do not know what the reasoning for deleting a major element like that was, but I would suggest it had more to do with misguided aesthetic than rain.

Everything else Corbu did seems to have been given more coverage than it deserves, from Villa Schwob to Saint-Pierre Firminy. I think Ozenfant is the best of his lot, even more inventive than Ronchamp.

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