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Building the Pauson House: The Letters of Frank Lloyd Wright and Rose Pauson Hardcover – March 15, 2011
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Its pages are generously illustrated with plans, elevations and perspective renderings, as well as 24 b&w and 4 color photographs. While some are of the snapshot variety, most are of good to excellent quality. The photos vary in size from 6"x 8" to 2 1/2"x 3 1/2", with other illustrations exhibiting a similar size range. Six variations of the floor plans are provided, permitting study of the house's design evolution. Of particular interest are the movements of the main fireplace: the final location choice would prove to be a fateful and fatal one. Though only lightly touched on in this book, the catastrophic house destroying fire was started by windblown drapes set alight by this fireplace. This, coupled with Rose's early letter concerning fire hazards, provides a heavy dose of irony.
In summation, this book is a solid 4-star effort. Missing is any correspondence regarding possible rebuilding efforts, by either Pauson or others. Also missing are building/wall sections and details, which would have aided our understanding of the leaks which play such an important part in this story. A final quibble regarding the page and consequent photo/illustration size: a format large enough not to need a magnifying glass to study some items would have been a definite plus. These additions would have elevated it to a 5-star rating. However, even with these shortcomings, this volume is a must have for the serious student of Wright's architecture.
My only complaint is that the book ends with the fire. I understand that there were failed attempts by both Rose Pauson and Jorgine Boomer to rebuild the house. Some documentation of those efforts would have made for a more exhaustive book. And perhaps more about the 'life' of the historic ruins, which outlasted the house by nearly 4 decades. I visited and photographed them in 1973 and dreamed that the house would someday be rebuilt upon them. That was not to be, but the house lives on through the efforts of Mr. Green, the Taliesin archives and Pomegranate Books.
It's such a tragedy that the building itself has been destroyed, and a loss to all fans of modernist, and especially organic architecture. I'll be keeping on eye on the publisher, Pomegranate, for other, similar volumes, as their recipe on this book is spot-on.