2015 Vacation: Saturday...another day that feels just Wright

Relaxing morning, our tour is not until 1:30, so we can just take it easy. Tidied up a few things in prep for heading out tomorrow, then headed over for the tour.

Kentuck Knob was another commission of Wright, for the Hagan family, owners of a major dairy outside of Pittsburgh, and friends of the Kaufmanns. The Hagans had been to Fallingwater a number of times visiting their friends, loved the house, and wanted Wright to design one for a piece of property they owned, just down the road from Fallingwater.

Intended as a summer home, Wright started the design in 1955, based only on a survey and photos of the site. At this point, Wright was 86, and in fact, he never set foot on the site until construction was well underway, and it was to be his only visit. It would also be one of the last Wright houses to be completed.
Wright started to add these signature tiles to his later homes
It is a small 'Usonian' house, a term used by Wright to describe his vision of the American landscape, including the planning of cities and the architecture of buildings. Houses designed and intended for the mainstream families, over 60 of them being built. Not so sure the philosophy was true to its intentions though, based on what has been produced. This house is much smaller than the Kaufman house at approx. 2,200 sq.ft. and was a full-time home for the Hagans.  It is situated just below the crest of a hill, and appears almost part of the hill itself. It is an open floor design, with cantilevered overhangs and great expanses of glass, effortlessly able to integrate the inside with the outside. We started the tour by the carports, again, Wright foregoing the garages, to avoid what he felt would be the inherent clutter.

The house is built from local sandstone, glass and tidewater red cypress, often called miracle wood, for its ageless qualities. The roof is entirely copper.

It is a one story structure, centered around an hexagonal stone core, where the kitchen is located. The house is very organic, with extensive use of wood built-ins, incorporating in narrow hallways which guide the residents through the house. The living room and the matching outdoor terrace terminate at a sharp corner, rising well above ground, as Wright describes, the prow of a ship, guiding the building through the landscape in front of it.

The prow that Wright often referred to.

These opening allowed light to enter the terrace area, and help the natural airflow

The Hagans lived in the house nearly 30 years, in 1986 selling to Lord Palumbo of London, for $600K. The new owner has retained the house in its original form, and the interior Wright built-ins intact and he has added in personal artifacts and iconic chairs from other well-known early designers, for example...Josef Hoffmann dining room chairs, Eames chairs, etc.  Also outside he has created a sculpture meadow containing a vast collection of outdoor art. He still owns the house, but generously entrusts the historical conservation society to conduct tours when his family is not there. No photography is allowed in the house, makes sense given that it is still a private home. From the assortment of photographs scattered around the house, the Lord is very well connected.

Impressive, but not as large as the piece we have in our backyard 
We made our way back to the visitor centre through the sculpture meadow, pausing to enjoy the art, an eclectic collection, including a Claus Oldenburg.

Also a piece called 'Red Army', a mass of steel figures, marching across the field. This army is now looking a little tattered, and could use a good coat of paint.

It is a lovely walk, with both open fields and woods to wander through, art installations nestled all over. It has turned into a hot and sticky day, so an ice cream, Hagan brand of course, sure hit the spot.

These venues must attract auto clubs, or perhaps it is the windy rolling roads, as there are a number of Porsches of various vintages  parked outside. One of them is an all time favourite of mine, the traditional bug eye headlamp vintage of the 911. Beautiful in a gleaming red.

Back at site, we packed up a bit more, had a nice visit with Joe & Pauline, campers a couple of sites down from us, and also showed the Alto to a few curious souls.

It was great to tour two Wright homes, so close to each other. Both are unique, but unmistakeably Wright designs. Fallingwater, impressive for its scale and ability to blend into its surroundings, has become what is regarded as the premier piece of American architecture. Kentuck Knob, although not as dominant an architectural statement, we found the scale more to our liking and just as impressive. Lower and more compact, it makes a statement with its distinctive lines, strong design details and by the way the materials fits more so into it's surroundings.


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