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Travel Report of Wright's Architectures in the U.S.-Part 2
The director really felt that the houses designed by Wright transcend time and nation.
Naoyoshi Shibata, Director YODOKO Guest House
Appointed as Director of YODOKO Guest House in March 1998. Since then, he has been expanding his understanding and respect for the architecture of Wright. Last summer, he joined a Wright architecture study tour hosted by the architect,Raku Endo * (10 days). He visited Wright's representative 13 works from east side of New York to Chicago in the Midwestern U.S.
Representative work of prairie house@
Robie House

(Near Michigan lakeside, Chicago, 1905)
The eaves that protrude were made to enhance the horizontal lines of the building harmonize with the prairie. H-shaped steel was used for the eaves for the first time in residential houses.
*His father, Mr. Arata Endo was responsible for the construction of YODOKO Guest House after Wright's leaving for the U.S. Both he and his father were disciples of Wright.

Representative works in the architect's early age, ridiculed as "steamboat"

This is the second article of the tour report. This time, I will introduce several works I was impressed with among nine private houses. First, let me begin with the representative work, "Robie House," one of many "prairie houses" designed around the Chicago area. "Prairie house" is a house style that Wright suggested as appropriate for the Great Plains in the Midwest. The horizontally long building was too innovative and it is said that neighbors made fun of such houses as "steamboat." However, they were gradually recognized by the public through various publications and became well known as an advanced architectural design. The idea of coexistence with nature is still applicable to the present day. The house was donated to the University of Chicago in 1963, and is presently undergoing restoration by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. I felt an affinity with the house since it had many common points with YODOKO Guest House-an exterior design with its horizontal lines enhanced, open space with lots of windows and balconies, and on top of it all, it was open to the public to let people freely study Wright's architecture.


F.L. Wright Home and Studio (Oak Park, Chicago)
Wright lived in this house in 1889-1909. It served the role as his house, studio, and the institute of architecture.

Works of his later years are still used as residents

In Detroit and New York, I visited several residential houses that Wright designed in his later years after completing "Fallingwater" (1936). Wright named these houses "Usonia House" (house for ordinary people) and earnestly tackled the creation of a low-cost and comfortable house. He made ingenious designs by utilizing prefabricated materials and adopted floor heating. One such Usonia house was the "Reisley House," which was designed to include an extension plan, considering the future increase in family members. At the "Palmer House," a small building and garden, designed by Wright's disciple, Mr. Howe, constructed from the image of a Japanese tea ceremony room melted my heart. We were offered tea and handmade sweets by the lady of the house and had a wonderful time, treasuring a great moment in my lifetime.

Building and garden designed in 1964 in tea-ceremony room style
"Reisley House" (Outskirts of New York, 1951)
One of the residential complexes that Wright designed. Each house is scattered among a clump of trees.
"Palmer House" (Outskirts of Detroit, 1952)
The edge of the building is dug into the hill and skillfully blends with nature.

Relatively low ceilings common in Japan and in the U.S.-Enhancement of extensity of space

Among many distinctive characteristic points in Wright's architecture, I was interested in the low ceilings, because many visitors to YODOKO Guest House ask me about the low ceilings. They say, "Are these ceilings made low, according to the height of Japanese people?" In YODOKO Guest House, the place with the lowest ceiling measures less than 2 m. The houses I visited in the U.S. also had the ceiling height of approximately 2.2 m. As it turned out, the ceiling heights were not designed low for Japanese people. *2 I was told that Wright reduced the height of the ceilings based on the height of a standard person (approximately 173 cm). After passing through such low ceilings, he usually put long eaves or a high open porch to represent an extension of space. Moreover, I felt each room and interior was so vivid and exciting, while at the same time the harmony as a whole was maintained. Bearing in mind that this must have been part of Wright's slogan, "Organic architecture," we headed off to Spring Green, our final destination, to visit the holy place of the Wright tour, "Taliesin."

Triangle eaves stretch from the living room to the garden, representing an extension of space (Palmer House)
*2 According to "Frank Lloyd Wright: His Life, His Work, His Words" by Olgivanna Lloyd Wright

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