Alternatives to fireplace as psychological center of home

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SDR
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Post by SDR »

I should think everyone here would be grateful for the input of an experienced practitioner ! Thank you for those notes [see previous page].

I wonder in what ways raising the fire (i.e., the grate) is equivalent to reducing to size of the fireplace opening, and in what ways it is not -- as the relevant issue is presumably the movement of air (drawn by the heat of the fire) past the fire and up into the damper and flue. . .?

In the Usonian period we see Wright trying everything, from the curious and unique Lusk stacks, to the literally stackless Goetsch-Winckler. Perhaps the architect was aware of specific anticipated local climates, for the two projects ?




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SDR
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Post by SDR »

In all of Wright I am not aware of a more minimal "firebox" than the one originally built at Lamberson. It appears to me, from what I've seen, to be essentially a very shallow, very tall and very wide depression in the brick mass.

The two published plans (one the unbuilt preliminary, at bottom, below, the other in Storrer) don't really show what's going on in re the plan shape of the lintel -- I draw my impression mostly from the photos that we've seen.

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A caption on p 122 of Pedro Guerrero's book reads, "Mr Wright made many visits to the Usonia site in Pleasantville, New York. Here [not shown] he and builder [sic] David Henken, a former apprentice, review plans for the Reisley house on its wooded terrain in 1949. After the house, the last of three at Usonia, was finished he came again, in 1952 [below] to address the problem of a chimney that was not drawing properly -- quickly and authoritatively sketching out his ideas (including a new fireplace grate)." Unfortunately, we do not see the result of this sketch session -- in Guerrero's book, at least.

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SDR
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Post by SDR »

Reisley living room, post 1961 (see caption), from Roland Reisley's "Usonia, New York. . ." (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001)



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DRN
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Post by DRN »

Laurie your insight is always welcome. I guess I'm used to smaller flues for correspondingly smaller fireplaces. I'll try to scan some pages out of the '81 edition of Ramsey/Sleeper's Architectural Graphic Standards which I use as a reference later today, and send to SDR. It corroborates Laurie's comments and may help with some of these questions.

I found something interesting.
The Sweeton drawings indicate the fireplace was originally designed with its back wall sloped toward the front of the fireplace. As built however, the rear wall is plumb and the masonry "hood's" inside surface is sloped toward the rear toward the damper. I'm 5'6" and can easily stand in the fireplace with headroom to spare before the damper (apparently to the amusement of my wife). The as built damper measures the full width of the fireplace...I can't get a fix on its depth as it is sealed shut at this time. I'm not sure if this change was done to aid draw, or to improve the appearance of a firebox open on 2 sides...I'm also uncertain if the geometrical change helps or hinders draw.

I'll send a scan of Taliesin's "Section Sheet 5" of the Sweeton drawings to SDR, if he would be so kind to post.

peterm: Is the back wall of the Lamberson fireplace sloped or plumb? Do the Lamberson drawings note the dimensions/geometry of the fireplace?

DRN
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Post by DRN »

Given the shallow depth of the Lamberson firebox, would it have more of the draw characteristics of a 3-sides open fireplace? There are guidelines/conventions for fireplaces which have a flat back wall, open sides and front, with a hood. I'll see if I can scan and post.

peterm
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Post by peterm »

DRN-

The back of the Lamberson fireplace is plumb.

We only have plans, no elevations, for the fireplace. But after removing the gas insert, studying the old photo, and carefully observing the firebrick in the opening, we are confident that we will be bringing it back to 1951. The back of the opeing would be just a V with a brick hood on top...

The question remains for us, however, whether what was built was exactly what was drawn...

From my limited studies, it seems like Fallingwater, Walker and Lamberson (sans copper hood) have the tallest fireplace openings. Is the Sweeton opening soffit height?

Fallingwater seems to have the lowest ceiling height and the largest opening....
Last edited by peterm on Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Wrighter
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Post by Wrighter »

The firebox at McCartney is also quite small, and the fireplace itself quite close to the kitchen. So much so, that I imagine a roaring fire would cause one to tread carefully if one was going to the kitchen to fetch a snack.

I remember Samara has a red heat lamp installed in the side of the fireplace, illuminating the firebox. On the tour, we were told that this Wright innovation was designed to provide atmosphere when the fireplace was not in use, and to heat the surrounding air in preparation for a fire, in order to improve the draw.

At the Schwartz, the large fireplace is rectangular, and there are two extensions--one hanging across the front and on another on the side. They are essentially boards that--instead of raising the fire--lower the overhang. But they are also temporary solutions, hanging on eye hooks, that can be removed at any time to return to fireplace to its original look (well, original look + eyehooks, anyway). I assume this has been done to improve the draw (which was great when we were there), but I don't know that for sure. I've got a photograph somewhere that I'll try to scare up.

Jeff Myers
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Post by Jeff Myers »

Forgot to put that n my model of Samara.
DRN I would be kind enough to post the plan if you would like.
JAT
Jeff T

Wrightgeek
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Post by Wrightgeek »

As shown in the posted photo of Reisley, that is one of the taller fireplace openings that I can recall in a Usonian.

Wrighter
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Post by Wrighter »

Found my Schwartz photo:

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I assume that these extenders are some sort of metal painted black, but I didn't examine them at the time. Schwartz is also an example of a fireplace placed well away from the workspace, and on an exterior wall. Of course, in this instance, there is an exterior fireplace on the outside of this chimney stack, providing a fire for the master bedroom terrace. Man oh man, i love this house.

dkottum
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Post by dkottum »

The tall, straight-backed, shallow fireplaces mentioned here are similar to the Rumford design, an efficient clean-burning fireplace. There is much to read about the Rumford on this website:

http://rumford.com/tall.html

DRN
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Post by DRN »

peterm:
TnGuy's pic of the Sweeton fireplace gives a good sense of the relationship of the fireplace opening to the soffit (thanks TnGuy):

http://my.opera.com/TnGuy/albums/showpi ... re=9060172

The top of fireplace opening is 4'8" above the floor slab.

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »


Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Perhaps the largest fireplace with the highest opening is Gillen (Taschen, 235). In order to make the fireplace a proper scale for the immense living room, it had to be huge. With its upward slant, it looks like the opening is smirking.

JimM
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Post by JimM »

Off the Usonian thread, but considering the period, Graycliff also has a rather large opening.

http://graycliff.bfn.org/history/history.html

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