Building A Frank Lloyd Wright House-Completion
I have been writing about the process of building one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s last designs. A hemicycle, it was designed in 1954 for a Pennsylvania family but never realized. In 1992 construction started on the island of Hawaii and almost four years later it was finished. John Rattenbury, the supervising architect, said that the quality of work was “A plus.” My hat went off to all of the people who worked on it. It was a very special project. People gave their very best and it showed. During the course of construction we had several earthquakes in the five range on the Richter scale. After the home was completed, there was one biggie: it measured 6.9. The house had been built on compacted gravel so the entire structure moved as a unit. Earthquake damage is usually severe because structures are designed to take vertical loads and not horizontal stress. I was in this last earthquake taking a shower in a small cottage. It felt like King Kong had picked up the cottage and was shaking it for all it was worth. Seventeen seconds felt like seventeen years. The Wright house did not suffer any damage. Of course there were two four inch slabs of concrete with a rubber membrane between the slabs as well as expansion joints installed on the top layer. This enabled the shock to be absorbed and disbursed with no deleterious effects.
One of the great things about this house is that the three sets of double front doors could be opened up and gatherings of 200 or more could easily be accommodated as the front yard and house became one. We greeted the year 2000 with a spectacular party here. Terence Mckenna from the balcony of the bedroom at midnight addressing, the party on the lawn below said that he had had the some of the best and most creative moments of his life while in this house. Frank Lloyd Wright was considered a mystic. I was extremely curious about what it would be like to live in a house designed by both a mystic and a genius. I had once attended a lecture given by Jean Houston in Honolulu. She had talked about and demonstrated the process of visiting the essence of an artistic form, music being the example. We were treated to a person being able to play a Mozart piece, written, but never published. It was impressive. From that moment on I became even more curious about what it would be like to live inside the hologram, so to speak, of a house design done by a mystical genius, especially one of his last designs. I found out and wrote about it in my upcoming book, “How Frank Lloyd Wright Got Into My Head Under My Skin And Changed The Way I Think About Thinking, a Creative Thinking Blueprint for the 21st Century.” The entire adventure was exhilarating. It was a chance to be in another “essence,” the essence of architecture.