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Saving Wright: The Freeman House and the Preservation of Meaning, Materials, and Modernity Hardcover – December 19, 2011
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“This extraordinarily engaging book goes to the heart of key issues related to the preservation not only of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture but also of all modernist buildings whose materials and methods were experimental in their time. . . . This book wholly recovers historical and technical realities and, just as importantly, frames them narratively in such a way that the reader sees this case study as representative of field-wide concerns.” (Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum)
“This well-written and informative book shares [Chusid’s] close-up view of a fascinating case study and discusses philosophical issues and practical problems that we encounter with many twentieth-century structures. . . . [A] valuable addition to the libraries of admirers of Frank Lloyd Wright and preservation professionals involved with twentieth-century structures.” (APT Bulletin: Journal of Preservation Technology)
“[A] wonderful new book…. [T]his is much more than another book about another Wright house, its clients and it design. The book is a detailed case study in historic preservation and the myriad challenges entailed in the task…. [C]ompelling reading for scholars and aficionados of Wright’s work.” (The Journal Times Online)
“The book’s subject is the perfect laboratory for considering such issues as the advisability of removing the work of later architects to expose the original building, and whether to retain failing structural materials in an earthquake zone or to re-engineer some of the parts in order to preserve the whole. . . . [T]he thoughtful text, accompanied by extensive, detailed photographs of the original construction and later preservation, will help guide readers in making these decisions.” (Style 1900: Antiques & Interiors)
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Saving Wright is densely packed with information.
The Freeman House has long been a favorite due to its small size, dazzling urban view, unique design (even for Wright), and the fact that the Freemans spent their lives in the problem-prone house.
After reading the book, what really struck me was how badly the house was constructed. That it survived the Northridge earthquake in 1994 seems a miracle, and the house underwent an eight year process that essentially rebuilt it structurally. Even today the house still needs a great deal of work. This has generated a lot of criticism regarding the owners of the house (the University of California) but after reading the book I was a little sympathetic.
I never really understood the house (layout, how it was built, etc.) but do now thanks to Saving Wright.
The diminutive house was expensive ($21K) -- more than twice the original estimate. Yes, this was not unusual for Wright, but it's extraordinary when you consider that Neutra was building gorgeous houses a decade later for $3K!
My only wish is that the many plans had been redrawn to offer greater clarity, and presented larger. Same with the many reconstruction images (a real treat; yum!).
It clearly explains the daunting task of building the house (at least 74 block types were required, for example) and the perhaps even more daunting necessity to preserve and restore this iconic block house. The book is well illustrated throughout with drawings and photographs. It also reproduces the original contract documents.
This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in Frank Lloyd Wright and his revolutionary block houses.