Among the philosophies that have influenced modern architects
and their approach to building design are rationalism, empiricism,
structuralism, poststructuralism, and phenomenology.
In the late 20th century a new concept was added to those
included in the compass of both structure and function, the
consideration of sustainability.
To satisfy the contemporary ethos a building should be
constructed in a manner which is environmentally friendly in
terms of the production of its materials, its impact upon the
natural and built environment of its surrounding area and the
demands that it makes upon non-sustainable power sources for
heating, cooling, water and waste management and lighting.
Whether it's an exterior or interior renovation or something totally
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Profiles in Design
Frank Lloyd Write
Designer of "Falling Water".
Designer of New Yorks'
World Trade Center
The World Trade Center was more than its signature twin towers: it was a
complex of seven buildings on 16-acres, constructed and operated by the
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ). The towers, One and
Two World Trade Center, rose at the heart of the complex, each climbing
more than 100 feet higher than the silver mast of the Empire State Building.
Construction of a world trade facility had been under consideration since
the end of WWII. In the late 1950s the Port Authority took interest in the
project and in 1962 fixed its site on the west side of Lower Manhattan on a
superblock bounded by Vesey, Liberty, Church and West Streets. Architect
Minoru Yamasaki was selected to design the project; architects Emery Roth
& Sons handled production work, and, at the request of Yamasaki, the firm
of Worthington, Skilling, Helle and Jackson served as engineers.
The Port Authority envisioned a project with a total of 10 million square feet
of office space. To achieve this, Yamasaki considered more than a hundred
different building configurations before settling on the concept of twin towers
and three lower-rise structures. Designed to be very tall to maximize the
area of the plaza, the towers were initially to rise to only 80-90 stories. Only
later was it decided to construct them as the world's tallest buildings,
following a suggestion said to have originated with the Port Authority's
public relations staff.
Yamasaki and engineers John Skilling and Les Robertson worked closely,
and the relationship between the towers' design and structure was clear.
Faced with the difficulties of building to unprecedented heights, the
engineers employed an innovative structural model: a rigid "hollow tube" of
closely spaced steel columns with floor trusses extended across to a
central core. The columns, finished with a silver-colored aluminum alloy,
were 18 3/4" wide and set only 22" apart, making the towers appear from
afar to have no windows at all.
Also unique to the engineering design were its core and elevator system.
The twin towers were the first supertall buildings designed without any
masonry. Worried that the intense air pressure created by the buildings,
high speed elevators might buckle conventional shafts, engineers designed
a solution using a drywall system fixed to the reinforced steel core. For the
elevators, to serve 110 stories with a traditional configuration would have
required half the area of the lower stories be used for shaftways. Otis
Elevators developed an express and local system, whereby passengers
would change at "sky lobbies" on the 44th and 78th floors, halving the
number of shaftways.
Construction began in 1966 and cost an estimated $1.5 billion. One World
Trade Center was ready for its first tenants in late 1970, though the upper
stories were not completed until 1972; Two World Trade Center was
finished in 1973. Excavation to bedrock 70 feet below produced the material
for the Battery Park City landfill project in the Hudson River. When complete,
the Center met with mixed reviews, but at 1,368 and 1,362 feet and 110
stories each, the twin towers were the world's tallest, and largest, buildings
until the Sears Tower surpassed them both in 1974.
The Skyscraper Museum
The extent of Wright's genius in integrating every detail of this design can only be
hinted at in photographs. This organically designed private residence was intended
to be a nature retreat for its owners. The house is well-known for its connection to the
site: it is built on top of an active waterfall which flows beneath the house.
The fireplace hearth in the living room is composed of boulders found on the site
and upon which the house was built — one set of boulders which was left in place
protrudes slightly through the living room floor. Wright had initially intended that
these boulders would be cut flush with the floor, but this had been one of the
Kaufmann family's favorite sunning spots, so Mr. Kaufmann insisted that it be left
as it was. The stone floors are waxed, while the hearth is left plain, giving the
impression of dry rocks protruding from a stream.
Integration with the setting extends even to small details. For example, where
glass meets stone walls, there is no metal frame; rather, the glass is caulked
directly to the stone. There are stairways directly down to the water. And in the
"bridge" that connects the main house to the guest and servant building, a natural
boulder drips water inside, which is then directed back out. Bedrooms are small,
some even with low ceilings, perhaps to encourage people outward toward the
open social areas, decks, and outdoors.
The active stream (which can be heard constantly throughout the house),
immediate surroundings, and locally quarried stone walls and cantilevered
terraces (resembling the nearby rock formations) are meant to be in harmony, in
line with Wright's interest in making buildings that were more "organic" and which
thus seemed to be more engaged with their surroundings.
Although the waterfall can be heard throughout the house, it can't be seen without
going outside. The design incorporates broad expanses of windows and the
balconies are off main rooms giving a sense of the closeness of the surroundings.
The experiential climax of visiting the house is an interior staircase leading down
from the living room allowing direct access to the rushing stream beneath the
Driveway leading to the entrance of Fallingwater.
Wright's views of what would be the entry have been argued about; still, the door
Wright considered the main door is tucked away in a corner and is rather small.
Wright's idea of the grand facade for this house is from the perspective of all the
famous pictures of the house, looking up from downstream, viewing the opposite
corner from the main door.
Through a visual trick comparing the swimming pool walls with the landscape beyond,
the swimming pool appears not to be level; it is, in fact, level. The carport was, at the
direction of Kaufmann, Jr., eventually enclosed for use by Fallingwater visitors, who
generally gather there at the end of guided tours. Kaufmann, Jr. designed the interiors
himself, but to specifications found in other Fallingwater interiors designed by Wright.
Fallingwater stands as one of Wright's greatest masterpieces both for its dynamism
and for its integration with the striking natural surroundings. Wright's passion for
Japanese architecture was strongly reflected in the design of Fallingwater, particularly
in the importance of interpenetrating exterior and interior spaces and the strong
emphasis placed on harmony between man and nature.
Belleville Lake House Design Concept
"Blondies" of Detroit - Club Design Concepts
Detroit Diesel - Building & Lobby Design Concepts
Member of the CCS Alumni Committee Since 1986
Center for Creative Studies, College of Art & Design-
Member of the Illustrator's Partnership
of America, since 2007
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