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Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian Houses: Designs for Moderate Cost One-Family Homes Paperback – March 1, 1984

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Watson-Guptill; 1st edition (March 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823071782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823071784
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on December 8, 2000
"Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian Houses" is well-presented introduction to an important phase in the career of this legendary architect. Author John Sergeant has combined an insightful text with detailed floor plans and photographs of the Usonian homes themselves. The result is a book that serves equally well for light browsing and intense study.
The book is not without flaws. Some of the floor plans are so tiny that they are difficult to analyze. And the floor plans have no captions labeling each individual room; the reader is left to decipher the plans on his/her own. But these drawbacks aside, this is an excellent work.
Sergeant has truly captured the innovative power of Wright's genius. Look at the clustered circles of the Jester house project, the interlocking hexagons of the Bazett house, or the bold "solar-hemicycle" of the second Jacobs house, and you will get a sense of Wright's remarkable vison. Virtually every page brings a stunning image or insight. If you are fascinated by Wright's work in home architecture, you will love this book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Forster on December 29, 2002
Sergeant has made a wonderful and complete effort to balance both the technical information about the famous Usonian houses with the very concept of Usonia and how Wright envisioned the possibilities of what organic architecture could become. At the risk of becoming too reverent to the architect, the book attempts to cover Wright's somewhat anachronistic philosophical views as well as paints an idealised picture of the man. The book is lacking greatly in visual aids. The author takes pains to ensure that the ingenuity and the complexity of the design and construction of the homes is understood, but this is backed up with poor illustration. The homes are displayed in black and white photos that lack the neccessary detail needed to understand what their literary descriptions mean. The floor plans are small, undimensioned, and are not clearly captioned. This coupled with close in photography of specific features of the homes without showing the whole, is frustrating. The literature is complete and well ordered, but a reader just entering the realm of FLLW would be well advised to find a more picturesque book on this topic before diving into Sergeant's text.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By K. P. Fisher on July 8, 2005
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I asked a Usonian "fanatic" about buying this book, and he told me that he owned it, but "never could get through it." I bought it anyway, and now I see what he means. Excerpt from page 62: "Symmetrical implications of the wig-wam roof-form of the living area are immediately combated by the off-center core and built-in seat and table."

WHAT? After five minutes of staring at the floor plan, I finally deduce that this must be some reference to a group of unmarked "things" there in what must be the living room. Of course, nothing is marked, and I still can't be sure what this sentence means because there are no useful photos or sketches to clarify the point. Lack of decent illustrations makes this book a nightmare to read. Another example, Page 68: "... utility... sensations...and...materials all make the Pew house, for me, the greatest of Wright's late career." This is accompanied by a single 3" x 5" high contrast, B&W photo of the house from a distance, partially obscured by trees. The author calls it the greatest work of Wright's career, and it is impossible to tell what it looks like.

Thank goodness I also bought "The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion" so I can actually see some decent photos and floorplans. This book could just as well be written in Braille.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 8, 1999
This is a great book for anyone who is considering an architect for a new home, or is a Wright fan. This book comprehensively discusses and illustrates a type of house design that is actually affordable in this day, unlike many of Wright's more famous Prairie designs (which preceded the buildings examined here). This is the only book on Usonians I know that deeply analyzes and lets you see how Wright's magic was worked, although that can become rather technical in nature. But if you are planning a home, and want it to be an exhilarating work of art, I think you need these details badly. About the only thing I didn't learn of Usonians here was the importance of the diagonal, or oblique, in developing Wright's floor plans, generating their "overlapping" spaces and spatial flow despite the rigid basic module.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ron on February 1, 2000
This book is a must have for anyone who is interested in Frank Lloyd Wright's 'organic' philosophy. It is one of the few books that actually discusses his building philosophy in depth. His 'Usonian' concepts are well illustrated although more up to date color photographs are probably required. This book also contains a quick biography of FLW as well as articles from the 'House and Homes' magazines written in 1958. In one of these articles are 32 extremely valuable Frank Lloyd Wright pointers on how to get the most from a small space. This book is a real gem.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Ferguson VINE VOICE on January 23, 2003
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It seems that this important phase in Wright's illustrious career has not been given the attention it deserves. As Frank Sergeant noted, Wright was most proud of his Usonian Homes and actively promoted his vision of a "Broadacre City." Unfortunately, Sergeant's book was the product of the 70's. He offers a good text, but poor photographs and mediocre illustrations that don't give the reader a compelling vision of these homes.
Wright started with the Jacobs House, built in the late 30's, which got the ball rolling. With a lot of sweat and material contributions by the owners, they were able to keep the cost near the $5000 budget Wright had set. He wanted these homes to be affordable, clean, efficient dwellings that reflected his streamlined view of America. Wright abhorred the wasteful society America had become, and envisioned a "Broadacre City" that would satisfy Americans' insatiable appetite for detached homes, without destroying the landscape in the process. He incorporated many passive solar features into these homes, relied on natural materials, and as always created an open plan that characterized the democratic nature of society.
More enticing books are now available on Usonian homes, but Sergeant's book is a good place to start in getting an impression of the quality of these homes, and how they came to shape America's suburban lifestyle.
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