Madison

 Tuesday, July 3rd.

We left Taliesin on Tuesday morning, and visited a few buildings on the way to and in Madison.

#96. Wyoming Valley Grammar School (1956)
6306 State Highway 23, Spring Green, Wisconsin

We were very lucky. As we arrived, a guide walked in and unlocked the building, as he’d been expecting us. The building is the only elementary school designed by Wright. It is currently a Spring Green community center. (a) The wooden beams crossed to form a top heavy x, bringing a playful cuteness. (b) Each room is integrated with the double storey hallway without being fully enclosed, bringing in plentiful natural light.

a.
b.
c.

 #97. Monona Terrace (1997)
1 John Nolen Drive, Madison, Wisconsin

The building was closed due to maintenance when we got there. We managed to sneak in, and walked around the building before we got kicked out. As Wright’s largest built structure, it was built after his death. It is now used as conference center.

#98. Herbert and Katherine Jacobs Second Residence (1944)
3995 Shawn Trail Middleton, Wisconsin

In Wright’s second home for the Jacobs, he uses a solar hemicycle, which takes maximum advantage of the sun’s direction throughout the day. The house sits on a slope and the ground sinks on the northern façade, creating two stories. On the northern façade, stone cladding grows out of the earth and supports the large windows on the second floor, which opens up to a private terrace. (a) The southern façade has large windows connected to the 14foot storey living area. Found a hurt mouse that was still moving, while waiting for the owner and tried to give it some water.

a.
b.

#99. Mary Ellen and Walter Rudin Residence (1957)
110 Marinette Trail, Madison, Wisconsin

The Rudin Residence is one of the #2 type Prefab houses Wright designed for Marshal Erdman company. Wright designed these prefabs much later in his career, and resolutions and unique characteristics are apparent. Meant to be low cost and efficient, these homes have simple, standard construction methods. It has a masonry core and exterior panel siding of wood. He no longer uses radiant floor heating, perhaps due to cost or its failure (Although I’m not sure if he knew this back then, many homeowners with radiant floor heating has had to replace it due to incorrect installation).
The wood structured building sits on a flat site, and is based on the textile-block Usonian type A. The masonry core supports the roof, allowing the blocks of windows to run all around directly beneath the soffit, giving the roof the appearance of floating. (a) In the living space, the two adjacent walls completely open up to the exterior, the gridded windows running from floor to ceiling. (b) In fact, the windows run all the way down to the basement bedroom, and light directs itself downwards. (c) Similarly, a slit adjacent the bedroom windows allow light from the glazing on the floor above.  A single curtain used to run all the way down from the second to first floor through the slit, but was replaced to allow for autonomy in light control. (d) This vertical continuation of windows suggests a connection between different levels of the house and its resulting light emphasizes the atmosphere of a “quiet space”, although the owner claimed that there was little auditory privacy within the house, due to spaces opening up to each other. The second floor balcony opens up to the double-storey living space, and due to the continuous running of the windows, the framed view of the living space almost seems like a reflection in the mirror. (e) The stair detail was very unique, with triangular steps laid out on two I-beams at each end. (f)

a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.

#100. John Clarence Pew Residence (1938)
3650 Lake Mendota Drive, Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin

Our #100 is a house that sits on a hillside. The drastic slope down to Lake Mendota opens up the glazed bottom floor, allowing the enclosed bedrooms of the second floor (entrance floor) spaces to be a private. Each corner window has overhangs that flank out into a square, proportionate to the square grid. 

#101. Unitarian Society Meeting House (1947)
900 University Bay Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53705 

The building uses an equilateral parallelogram module with a unit side of 4 feet, apparent on the concrete floor and on the plan (a). The copper roofscape cuts drastically and its movement is emphasized by the panels that run the length of the roof. (b) The interior of the main auditorium conforms to the peak and drop of the roofscape, and the peak of the ceiling and the large penetration of light draws views up and toward the alter. (c) This contrasts to the method Wright uses in his Beth Sholom Synagogue built later in 1954, where the alter becomes a meeting point among the intersecting roofscapes converging at the lowest point, focusing views downwards. (d, e) The education wing beyond the west living room was added by Taliesin Architects. A third addition was designed by Kubala Washatko Architects, who talked about their design decision at Taliesin Tapes lecture at Taliesin. As they experimented with the parallelogram module, they concluded with a curved form which was the least intrusive to the original design. The auditorium structurally relates to the original by reversing the truss system in the original, and exposing it. (f) The circulation leading to the auditorium curves around the courtyard with continuous glazing and gives members opportunity to socialize after service. (g)

a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.

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