burnham does an armory

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In penance for doing little posting of late, I present you with a little precedent study, and an archaeological one at that.  Burnham & Root’s Armory Building (Chicago, 1882), was demolished in the 60’s, and Richard Nickel’s photos are little of what remains to tell the epic story of this impressive structure.  Predating the Monadnock Building by 9 years, the simple masonry volume is rather unornamented, save for the excellent brickwork and rough-faced battered stone.  A large skylit central drill hall anchors the form, which gives only small fortified slit windows to the street, save for the large, Richardsonian Syrian arch at the main entry.  The windows pre-echo Kahn, but I’m not going to argue that he was so influenced, no matter how hard I’d like to.  The structure is framed by the large load-bearing masonry walls, which are filled with long-span trussed arches, which allow for the large hall at the center.  My first (failed) attempt at a truly square floor plan is at the bottom.

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a longhouse

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Maybe today’s project is not a longhouse perse, but definitely a domestic form that is quite elongated, with long solid brick gabled walls making up the length of the volume, and a hipped apsoidal colonnaded porches on the ends.  I think that the roof itself would be particularly interesting, with the intersecting gables at different pitches, and a generous Rossi-inspired conical skylight.

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bridges, covered

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Oregon has a large number of covered bridges, where the wood trusses had to be protected from the persistent damp and subsequent rot and failure.  These are simple, rectangular, white clapboard (or board & batten) gabled ‘houses’, concealing impressive, large-scale Howe trusses inside.  I find engineered structures to have a brutal beauty, especially those of the early 20th Century, and often believe the Historic American Engineering Record to be much more fascinating than its architectural counterpart.  These covered bridges offer a wonderful contrast between the utilitarian trussed interiors and the domestic exterior form.  There might just be another project somewhere in there. . .

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a farmhouse

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Another vernacular form taken from my Oregon drive.  This one, the study of roof masses, with a four-gabled volume over a hipped porch.  I’ve taken this to it’s logical extent, with square-in-square, and a continuous, cubic central ‘house’.  The reality is that this is no house whatsoever, at least not at this scale.  Perhaps more of an elaborate cabin.  Miesian stairs offer access from all four sides.

The final drawing represents a different formal operation on the same floor plan, with a single pyramidal roof replacing the hips and gables, echoing Asplund’s Woodland Chapel.

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a pavilion

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To celebrate one year of frame, I have something special for you all.  That’s right, a small, un-programmable garden pavilion.  A four-square frame of 4X4’s set on the diagonal, with a copper standing seam roof atop and a brick base below.  There’s no way in, just a beautiful form without.  Better than cake, right?

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the courtyard variations

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More than just a Bach reference, that title could really be the title of this entire blog, since the vast majority of what I post here are really just different takes on courtyards.  Blame it on my being a SoCal native, blame it on my love of squares, palazzi, and any other architectural trope you can.  I love me some courtyards.  So here we go again.  At the top, a more detailed elevation of a previous project, and below, a different take on that same floor plan, this time more loudly echoing Giorgio Grassi and Louis Kahn.

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square + barn

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Another trip to Oregon with my wife has yielded yet another flurry of agriculturo-vernacular projects.  This one is a barn, made a square, with exposed gothic-arched framing inside, and two shed-roofed wings to the side.  Two planters reflect these wings to create a larger cruciform plan.  Exposed diagonal beadboard makes up the wall treatment inside, while white painted board-and-batten the exterior walls and roof.

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a retreat

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This began as a small retreat house, in two halves connected by a central skylit entry, with full-height sliding doors on two sides and blank walls on the entry facades.  But, then I got to thinking, and decided to put it on stilts up in the air, like the fire lookout towers that dot the American West’s forests.  Obviously, this necessitates a staircase, which I suggest making a conical spiral.  To increase livable space in what would be an otherwise stuffy cabin, the entire steel structure has been wrapped to create an over-sized screened porch.  While I started with a butterfly roof and tried out a hip roof, I find the dichotomy of the butterfly against the spindly supports to be rather compelling.

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a house in four towers

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Today, I’ve got something a little odd here at frame, four ‘L’-shaped towers surrounding a nine-square cubic courtyard.  The exterior walls are bare brick, but for small observatories in the upper corners.  The ‘house’ itself is broken into four independent towers, with public spaces grouped on the ground floor, connected via the large tree-filled courtyard, which acts as the main living room of the house, with baths and bedrooms located on the upper tower floors.  In contrast to the bare brick exterior, the courtyard walls are detailed in a strict classical vocabulary, with pilaster colonnades wrapping floor upon floor.

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