Monday, June 07, 2010

Poetic Space & Quiet Places -- tour of Wright homes

Here's an example of looking different sources of creative inspiration, submitted by Melanie:

On Saturday, June 5 I drove up to Racine, Wisconsin to go on “The Wright and Like” Homes Tour. Not only was it a nice urban get-away, but the inspiration I get from seeing majestic architecture and beautifully decorated homes is invaluable to me.

The day-long tour included two of Frank Lloyd Wright's most important works, the SC Johnson Administration Building and Wingspread, both of them National Historic Landmarks.

It also included an elegant townhouse by Russell Barr Williamson and a mid-century Usonian, both in Kenosha, a Prairie house in Racine's Southside Historic District, along with three 1950s homes by John Randal McDonald, including one recently enlarged and sensitively upgraded by Racine architect Ken Dahlin.

The theme of the tour was “Poetic Space & Quiet Places.” This was absolutely the case as three friends and I found ourselves listening to the stories behind the home – the architect’s inspiration, the owners motivation, and the recent modernization.

My favorite of all the homes was the Richard J. and Ada T. Christensen House 1954/2009. John Randal McDonald was the original architect, designing the home to fit into the side of a gently sloping site and using all natural materials such as stone, wood, bamboo, and cork. In 2009, architect Ken Dahlin updated the home with subtle modernizations to create an extraordinarily elegant and serene environment.

The owner of the home showed off her books, photos, and artifacts from over hundreds of countries traveled. Exciting room focal points included a 15-foot long, raised hearth and a meditation platform, while the oversized Japanese soaking tub and steam room were hidden between the bedrooms.

The kitchen was intellectually metallic, with splashes of color, and vegetarian recipe books; most dishes presumably using fresh ingredients from the garden on the side of the house.

Touring these homes over the course of a raining Saturday was reenergizing. It made me see lines and layers, forms, and colors in a new way. The homes were beautifully and sustainably built, drawing on nature– weaving the elements – to produce the finest results

For more information on the tour, visit

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