Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Posts tagged “Houses

Palmer House – Interiors (1950)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

227 Orchard Hills Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Aerial View and Directions

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Visited September 15-16, 2012

See my post “Palmer House – Exterior” for information on the property.

The interior dramatically changes personality as the light changes in the space. From morning light, afternoon light, evening light and then artificial light the spaces are transformed as time goes by. When the trees, lawn and natural gardens are in sunlight, the interiors takes a back seat as the windows and walls seemingly disappear and the beautiful natural hillside is the star. In the evening after the sun sets, the glass appears as black panels focusing attention inward to the interior. The integrated indirect lighting transforms the oil-finished cypress clad ceiling of the living room into a warm canopy focusing on the fireplace. The polished Cherokee red concrete floors subtly reflect the light from above. Wright’s Origami Chairs ( which are quite comfortable ) are placed around the living room focused on the fireplace. Built into a wall by the kitchen is the dining table surrounded by dining chairs ( which are not comfortable).

All of the interior walls come together at 60 or 120 degree angles, as the floor plan is organized on an equilateral triangle grid. This grid is implemented in the furniture as well, even the beds have 60 and 120 degree corners.

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Palmer House – Exterior (1950) – revisited

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

227 Orchard Hills Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Aerial View and Directions

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Visited September 15-16, 2012

Look at my first Palmer House post from two years ago for a description of the building.

The Palmer House has been purchased from the Palmer family estate, and is now available for overnight rentals (when the new owner is not in town). The purchase agreement comes with a very strict preservation agreement. Since it was purchased from the original owner’s estate, and the preservation agreement is in effect, this is an incredible opportunity to “live” in an original Frank Lloyd Wright house. The experience is pure Wright, without any unfortunate “updates” that mar many Wright properties that have gone through multiple ownership changes over the years.

Although recuperating from a back injury and not prepared with my tripod, I could not pass up an invitation from some amazing friends to spend the night. I have documented the house in 3 separate posts showing the exterior, the interior and the tea house on the property.


Palmer House – Tea House (1964)

John Howe, Architect

227 Orchard Hills Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Aerial View and Directions

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Visited September 15-16, 2012

After visiting Japan, the Palmer’s planned a teahouse on their property sited down the hill from the main house. John Howe, the on-site Taliesin representative during construction of the main house, was the architect (Wright had passed away 5 years earlier).

The tea house uses the same materials and equilateral triangle grid as the main house. It includes a recessed sitting area and table for tea drinking, a fireplace, bed, and small kitchen and bathroom.


Lykes Residence (1959-66)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

6636 N. 36th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85018

Aerial View and Directions

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“Wright’s last residential design to be built by the original client” – as identified in William Allin Storrer’s book The Architecture of Frank LLoyd Wright A Complete Catalog.

The design was sketched by Wright before his death in 1959, and Taliesin Fellow John Rattenbury supervised construction, which didn’t commence until 1966.

This pink block building gracefully arcs on the desert hillside above Phoenix. Clearly visible from the road, you can appreciate the mature work of Wright by taking a short roadtrip up 36th street from the city.

There are several Wright houses in the Phoenix area, but most are not very visible from the street. You can see the gate and part of the roof of the Harold Price Sr. house (1954) at 7211 Tatum. The David Wright House (1950) at 3212 E. Exeter had recently been purchased at the time of my visit, and was under renovation with a construction fence around the property. The Adelman Residence (1951) at 5802 N. 30th Street, is visible across a very large front lawn, but what I was able to see was not of great note (in my opinion). Next door is the Boomer Residence (1953) at 5808 N. 30th Street. Through the densely wooded yard you can just make out the roof from the street. The Carlson House (1950) at 1123 W. Palo Verde Dr. is a white paneled house with bright blue trim behind a block wall and blue metal fence. The carport is visible from the road, but the most prominent feature on site at the time of my visit was a classic red convertible.

After the roadtrip hunting down the Wright houses, even if just to catch a glimpse, I recommend a drink and dinner at Wright’s at the Biltmore, a fine food restaurant in the Arizona Biltmore (1927). See Traverse360 Restaurants for a description.


Smith House (1946)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

5045 Pon Valley Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Aerial View and Map

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Photos taken January 7, 2012

The Smith House is a great example of Wright’s Usonian Houses. It is a more refined version of the first Jacobs House in Madison. Situated in the upscale Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, this rather modest house is surrounded by huge mansions of the more traditional style.

The low, horizontal composition hugs the earth and extends across the site with the brick garden walls. The owner’s large scale sculpture collection still graces the grounds and provides a nice visual break from the otherwise austentatious bigger than big neighbors.

This house is visible from the street, with a complete view of the front and north side facades across the lawn. The Smith House gives you a clear view of a pristine example his Usonian House concept. Well worth the trip if you are in the area. It is just down the street from the Cranbrook Educational Community with it’s original Saarinen designed campus, and close by is Wright’s Affleck House.


Bart Prince Residence and Studio (1984/90)

Bart Prince, Architect

3501 Monte Vista Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM

Aerial View and Map

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From the Archives, Photos from December 13, 2008

While in College, I remember seeing this building published and was intrigued by it. It seemed a little too “hippie” or as we would say in Ann Arbor a little “granola” for my taste, but was still intrigued none the less. During a trip to Albuquerque a few years ago, I had some time to search out interesting architecture while I was there. Luckly I recalled this building was there…and I found it after a quick search.

Located in a residential neighborhood just east of the University, there it was, right on the corner, with the second story ribbed capsule visible above the trees and landscaping (If that doesn’t get your attention, just look for the metal dinosaur sculptures in the front yard). Driving down the street, with fairly normal houses lining it on both sides, when you come upon this house you know that a very creative person lives here, and that a very creative architect designed it. In this case, they are one in the same – Bart Prince.

This is his Residence and Studio. It is a creative burst of crafty energy, reminding me in some ways of Bruce Goff’s organic spirals and forms, with a little Jules Verne submarine imagery thrown in for good measure. The more you look at it the more you see. There are tile patterns, steel stud sunscreens, round porthole windows, ribbed frames resting on steel beams, Arcosanti Bells, various antennae, post and masts, and stucco shells “lifted up” providing clerestory windows. This is the type building that is fun to discover, one that you can just enjoy the creativity as you walk around in wonder and awe – mostly about how he got those steps and guardrails going up the side of the concrete block curved wall past the building code officials.

The Model Architect – Video from Dwell Magazine on Prince

Link to Architect’s webpage

Link to Architectural Digest Profile of Prince

I am taking the time to go through my archives and posting some of the buildings I have visited prior starting this blog. While some of the photographs are taken with early low-resolution digital cameras, hopefully they capture the general feeling of the buildings…prompting a visit of your own.


Affleck House (1941)

Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect

1925 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Aerial View and Map

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Photos taken October 29, 2011

The Gregor and Elizabeth Affleck House is a great early example of Wright’s Usonian Houses. A model of the house was displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York before it was constructed. It is in very good condition after several restoration projects undertaken by The Friends of the Affleck House and Lawrence Technological Univeristy’s School of Architecture which owns the structure.

I have been to the house many times since my college days. I was in the area late saturday afternoon and thought I would stop by and snap a few photos. The recent Chrysler commercial which features the house must have been in the back of my mind as I drove down Woodward Avenue.  If you respect the owner’s of the adjacent houses, you can easily view the house from all sides from the drive that loops the house. I will go back after all the leaves are off the trees to get some additional photos featuring the cantilevered living room and deck. The University does provide tours of the house (see attached links). I thought it was interesting that I found a 1948 Oldsmobile TV commercial online that featured the house as well (see attached link to view). Look for a post of the nearby Smith House by Frank Lloyd Wright in the coming days. I stopped there following my visit to the Affleck House.

1948 Futuramic Oldsmobile TV Advertisement featuring the Affleck House

LTU’s Web Page of House

Tour Brochure

Exhibit Catalog– which contains copies of some of Wright’s drawings for the house and early B&W photos of the house and interiors