Wednesday, April 15, 2009


First year Interior Architecture took a [ROADTRIP] to Virginia and Pennsylvania to witness some magnificent pieces of architecture and design. The trip was a wonderful learning experience of Monticello and Fallingwater and was fun! I dedicate most this week's OPUS to my traveling experiences...

definition- the source or origin of a thing (

In both Monticello and Fallingwater, Thomas Jefferson and Frank Lloyd Wright both kept the concepts in the roots of their design. In Jefferson's design of Monticello, he kept to its roots by using natural materials from his land to create materials for the building. He used the clay to make brick, masonry of stone for the cellar and columns, and the surrounding trees for structural timber, as were the nails for the remodeled house. By using what was available to him, Jefferson was able to keep to the roots of Virginia. Jefferson wished to capture a Roman Neoclassicism design, which he did, in addition to adding American roots, especially in his entrance room with Native American artifacts hung all over the walls. As we moved along on our roadtrip, we also encountered Fallingwater, which stuck to its roots of its landscape. Wright successfully incorporated the roots of the houses' location on a hillside over a waterfall by creating a design that integrated well into the landscape with layers that are simple and nature-looking. A majority of the house is made of natural rock and the large level sections remind me of large rocks and from the inside out, all the windows make you feel like you are connected to nature.

compression- to press together; force into less space; to cause to become a solid mass; to condense, shorten, or abbreviate (
release- to give up; to free from confinement (

Compression and release are opposites that effect the look and feel of anything. In terms of room design, compression and release relate to different feelings of openness or closeness.

In Fallingwater, Wright uses both ideas in different areas of his residence. In all the rooms in the house, Wright designed the ceiling to be lower than normal, not only because he believed it was space that could be used, but to also create a sense of compression that subconsciously makes you feel like you belong in the space, as it is slightly taller than an average person. While walking through the house, I felt this idea was most recognized in the bedrooms as they were smaller in size as well as shorter (meaning the ceiling). Wright also created a release in his design of Fallingwater by combining his main living area with his dining area, creating what is called a great room. By combing the living styles into one room means that no walls are separating or designating a space. This creates a large, open and spacious area that provides a sense of freedom and activity. The walls of windows that Wright uses to border the entire room adds to the feel of relaxation and pleasure of the space. A benefit of a great room is that it provides for more entertainment and larger social events. During the tour, the tour guide mentioned how the Kaufmann's would host parties in their great room, which was a new concept in the early 1900s.

definition- the quality or state of agreeing or corresponding (

Whenever designing a space, it is essential that the environment in which it surrounds is considered. If a building does not coordinate with its surroundings, the structure looks out of place and may stand out negatively. Fortunately, both Jefferson and Wright considered the spaces in which their designs were to go and created a positive relationship with the building and its environment that made it be considered "good design".

Monticello is designed on the outside to be very grand and massive-looking, which relates to the effect that it is on top of a large hill, that if the building was smaller, it would look miss-placed. Monticello also takes great advantage of light source that is provided by the lack of trees around the building with multiple skylights, letting natural light flood into many rooms of the house. This additional lighting "enlarges" the rooms, creating a special relationship with natural light. Fallingwater has great congruence with its surroundings. As Massey points out, Fallingwater is “built on a rocky hillside, the concrete structure cantilevers over a waterfall. The emphasis is on the organic, with rock-masonry walls, N.C. walnut furniture and fittings, and huge windows creating a harmony between the natural beauty of the setting and the interior living space” (Massey, 85). Congruence is established between the use of materials, design of horizontals and verticals, and natural surroundings of Fallingwater.

definition- material nature or quality (

The use of material is just as important as a building's congruence with its environment. In a way, material and congruence go hand-in-hand. If a material does not suit the design, the final product is not going to look right. The solution that Jefferson and Wright took to this approach was to use materials that were native to the land or that look like its surroundings. Jefferson used most of his materials from the land for Monticello, such as the clay, masonry and timber. The use of the land material makes the building look like its suited for its environment and is a successful congruence. Fallingwater also incorporates materials that are not necessarily from the environment in which its located, but the materials that are used have the same look and feel like its natural surroundings. “Wright adapted a design of horizontals and verticals and the use of natural materials to create a uniquely American style of expression” (Massey, 51). This past week, we also explored materials by researching and making a "material board". The materials I learned about were copper, granite and teak. The most interesting things I learned about these materials is that copper is used for most , granite is popular for rockclimbing and teak is .

definition- an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars; a directly conceived or intuited object of thought (

All the qualities of design are formed around a certain concept or set of ideas that come together to create something with meaning. Jefferson wanted to show off his creation and wanted Monticello to be seen. This concept was achieved by its location and environment. Monticello is set on top a massive hill that overlooks the towns below. The structure is placed with very few trees around it, making it even easier to see than if it were surrounded by trees. Monticello's desire for openness contrasted Wrights idea for his home. Instead, he wanted to create a private place for his family to vacation. To create this idea, Fallingwater is set way back in the woods of Pennsylvania next to a secluded waterfall. This way, his family could enjoy being together without any other people bothering them as they were completely away from other civilization.

[IN SUMMARY]...the different aspects of a piece of architecture, roots, compression/release, congruence, materials, and the concept, are all important to understand. Being familiar with these these terms will help when designing and learning about or describing spaces in general. Especially a buildings roots and material are important to appreciate the structure. Learning about these words and connecting them to our roadtrip, I have developed more of an appeal for Monticello and Fallingwater --- more than I already had from the personal experience.

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