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2015 FLWBC Conference Wrap-Up: Day 2

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Oct 03, 2015 01:03 AM
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by Eric last modified Oct 02, 2015

Day 2 of the 2015 Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Annual Conference in Milwaukee, WI was another one chock full of wonderful preservation-related discussions and amazing afternoon tours. Get all the details after the jump... The morning began with three of presentations that focused on topics connected to Frank Lloyd Wright's Racine-area projects. Jon Lipman, AIA, author of the comprehensive book on the SC Johnson buildings, presented a lecture titled "Understanding Wright by Understanding Wright's...




 

 

DSCN0687Day 2 of the 2015 Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Annual Conference in Milwaukee, WI was another one chock full of wonderful preservation-related discussions and amazing afternoon tours. Get all the details after the jump...

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The morning began with three of presentations that focused on topics connected to Frank Lloyd Wright's Racine-area projects. Jon Lipman, AIA, author of the comprehensive book on the SC Johnson buildings, presented a lecture titled "Understanding Wright by Understanding Wright's Work in Racine" which explored three of Wright's Racine buildings: Wingspread, SC Johnson Administration Building, and Hardy House. Mr. Lipman explored some interesting connections between the experience of Nature (with a capital "N") by architect and client and its ultimate impact on the development of these three commissions.

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The next presentation titled "Wingspread: Unpacking Fallingwater/Operationalizing Usonia" was by Michael Desmond, professor of Architecture at Louisiana State University. Mr. Desmond provided a very illuminating discussion of Frank Lloyd Wright's pinwheeling design for Wingspread and its connections and influences to other Wright works of the period, including Fallingwater, Suntop Homes, Cloverleaf Quadruple Housing, and Usonia I community. I came away with a new appreciation for Wingspread and hope that a comprehensive book on this particular Wright building will be published in the near future.

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Brigid Boyd, PhD student from the Department of Architecture and Urban Design, UCLA, presented next on the topic of Wright's experimentation process, specifically at the SC Johnson Administration Building. Her lecture, titled "The Architecture of Research," challenged the image of the designs "shaken out of his sleeve" genius of Frank Lloyd Wright, and instead illuminated the often overlooked experimental process Wright worked through to reach the final built product.

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The last two presentations of the morning were on different, but no less engaging topics. Mike Lilek, curator of the American System-Built Homes in Milwaukee provided a wonderfully illustrated and thoughtfully presented overview of how Wright "Thinks Different" with the ASBH project and the 10 things one should remember about this very important facet of Wright's cannon of work. He ended the presentation by teasing us that more ASBH designs are yet to be found, and that a new one would be announced early next week!

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The final presentation of the morning was a panel discussion on the A.D. German Warehouse in Richland Center, WI. Moderated by Ron Scherubel, FLWBC and Wright in Wisconsin board member, the panel consisted of Randolph C. Henning, architect and author; Lon Arbegust, president of the A.D. German Warehouse Conservancy; and Peter Rott, Principle at Isthmus Architecture. Each panelist discussed the history of the building, it present condition and use, and the possible future adapted use of the building.

With the morning sessions complete, we gathered our boxed lunches and headed for the buses to tour some of the most anticipated buildings of the Conference. Our first stop was at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, WI.

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This has been a seldom-seen Wright work and I was really excited to get a chance to finally experience it both inside and out. I was not prepared for how beautiful and remarkable this place really is. Photos cannot do justice to the light, color, textures, and remarkable use of space in this building.

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Frank Lloyd Wright first met with Annunciation parishioners in 1955; was commissioned to design the church in 1956; but it was not ultimately completed until after Wright's death in 1959. Construction was supervised by Taliesin Apprentice John Underhill Ottenheimer and was completed in 1961 (not 1963, as has been written in some books).

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(Framed photograph of Frank Lloyd Wright at alter of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. Photo ©2015 Jim Irwin)

The Church has had a difficult recent history, with a diminishing congregation size, financial challenges,  and increasingly imperative restoration needs. The critical restoration needs in particular have been consistently underscored by John Ottenheimer and best summed up in the case statement found here. It is hoped that raising awareness of the issues facing the building will attract the much needed support to raise the funds needed to restore this special work of Organic Architecture.

We loaded back onto the buses and prepared to travel to our other tour stop for the afternoon, The SC Johnson Corporate Headquarters in Racine, WI.

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A visit to the SC Johnson Company buildings found at its corporate campus is always a special experience. We were lucky enough to be able to see all four structures on the property: The Golden Rondelle Theater (1964), The Research Tower (1950), The Administration Building (1936), and Fortaleza Hall (2010).

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After a screening of the Academy Award-winning short, "To Be Alive!" at the Golden Rondelle Theater, we were split into groups and taken up to see the newly opened floors in the Research Tower; the Great Workroom in the Administration Building; and finally by way of walking through the underground tunnel that connects to it, Fortaleza Hall (where we could see the Wasmuth Portfolio exhibit at the SC Johnson Gallery). Unfortunately, no interior photos were allowed, so you had to be on the tour to see the magnificence of some of these iconic spaces.

With all of the buildings seen, this concluded another wonderful day at the 2015 Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Conference in the Milwaukee/Racine, WI region. Make sure to check-in tomorrow to get a wrap-up of Day 3 events and tour sites!

(Unless otherwise noted, all photos © 2015 PrairieMod)


 

 

 
 
 

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