Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lloyd Wright's textile concrete in Florida

Frank Lloyd Wright developed a 'textile block' construction system with prefabricated concrete tiles bound together to form stay-in-place formwork for placing concrete. He used it as early as around 1920 for the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo - which survived a subsequent heavy earthquake with its monolithic structure -  and for projects in California in the 20's, for example the Alice Millard house, La Miniatura, a famous example from 1923.
Below are some images from "Child of the Sun", a collection of Wright buildings from the Florida Southern College that I know very little about but are worth studying. Wright built nine buildings for the campus between 1938 and 1958. So it was great to see and now share a few posts by Nat Chard with images of these textile concrete buildings.
[From the interior of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Annie Pfeiffer Chapel (1938) at the Florida Southern College. Via]

I enjoy following the blog by the architectural (re)searcher and educator Nat Chard who for the past five years or so has been the head of the school of architecture at the University of Manitoba (also home of CAST). Nat was educated at the Bartlett School of Architecture and was also a professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He has been unstoppable since he took up blogging posting about his own research as well as stereoscopic images of art, technique, skeletons, picture planes of dioramas, - and concrete blocks.

[From the interior of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Annie Pfeiffer Chapel at the Florida Southern College. Via]

"The blocks in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Annie Pfeiffer Chapel at the Florida Southern College are some of his most elaborate, made possible partly through cheap student labour. The blocks have stained glass inserted into them, a combination of a larger L-shaped piece at either end of each block and smaller square pieces along the top and bottom. The inside and outside skin are made of identical blocs, with a cavity in between. The blocks are a composite wall and window." writes Nat
[Thad Buckner Building, formerly the E.T. Roux Library completed in 1945 at the Florida Southern College. Via]

Nat writes: "The blocks are a development of his textile block work in Los Angeles from the ’20s and have similar joint details (I will post some pictures of some of these where the walls have failed). The character of the work emerges though his invention of these building elements. There are abundant technical problems with the blocks (the accelerated decay gives some of his buildings a picturesque quality) but I find them really helpful in thinking through how to make building components that are appropriate to the content of the architecture." Via
[Thad Buckner Building. Via]
[Thad Buckner Building. Via]