One of our Pleysier Perkins architects, Douglas Crisp, recently traveled through America. Checking out some architectural gems along the way, Douglas visited the celebrated Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Glass House by Phillip Johnson, to name a few.
Here, he shares some of his highlights.
Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright
The most memorable architectural moment of my time in the United States was my visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falingwater. Having studied this iconic residence, and seen so many photos in books and online, it was surreal to physically step into the building.
There is no better way to analyse a building than to walk around it, and move through all of its spaces. I took hundreds of photos but also reminded myself to simply stand and enjoy the environment, which in a house such as this is easy. I was blown away by the attention to detail, and the obvious involvement of the architect in the minutest aspects of the project. I especially enjoyed Lloyd Wright’s furniture and joinery especially designed for the home.
The real ‘hair-standing-on-end’ moment came when I was directed to walk downriver to the lookout with the famous waterfall view. I knew this would be special, but nothing could prepare me for the experience of standing alone, looking at something I had idolised for so long.
It is a tricky spot to get to, but I also think that is what makes it so amazing, and I would encourage anyone to visit.
Glass House by Philip Johnson
Another amazing space and residence that I visited was Philip Johnson’s ‘Glass House’. Again, I had studied and seen this home in countless publications, but was especially curious to experience this seemingly exposed space. To my surprise, when you stand inside this home you do not feel as exposed to the outside as I thought you would. Johnson obviously worked hard on selecting his site, and created a landscape that allows the occupant to feel comfortable in a home with four glass walls.
The subtle division of spaces using joinery and furniture works extremely well, resulting in a home that feels enjoyable to share, but also offers degrees of privacy.
Manhattan and beyond at the Rockerfeller Centre
At a larger scale, I would have to say my other top architectural experience of the USA was analysing New York City from above, at the top of the Rockerfeller Centre. It is a challenge to take this entire city in at once, and I believe this is the best way to do it.
The ‘Top Of The Rock’ offers a sweeping 360 degree panorama view from downtown, across to Jersey City, all the way up to the Bronx and out over Brooklyn. This is almost the best thing to do on your first day, to get a sense of the scale, orientation and division of spaces in Manhattan.
The Glass House, Philip Johnson
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Getty Museum, Richard Meier
O'Hara House, Richard Neutra
National Gallery of Art