Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on April 27, 1986 · Page 186
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 186

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Phoenix, Arizona
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Sunday, April 27, 1986
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Page 186
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The Arizona Republic Sunday. April 27, 1986 Sm) mm Section 1 of 3 sections Tin-tillating pursuit Jeri Walker, a Valley sales secretary, began collecting illustrated cans 10 years ago when a friend showed her a Clabber Girl baking powder can she had just bought. Now Walker boasts about 1,000 examples of the colorfully labeled tins. S35. House plan S3 Jumble S8 Real estate S10 Nation's housing S1 1 People S14 People patterns S17 The legacy of 1 , . fe;( VU, -! fefe' , fe .r.K:.v';'?i. . r- n n i n n n n i 1 SW&lwS WW u ( ( m fe N r The Pottery House in northeast Phoenix is based on an unbuilt design by Frank Lloyd Wright. Plan's profitable twin upsets Valley couple By ANN PATTERSON Arizona Republic Staff Ronnie Bendheim makes kiln-fired earthen vases and bowls to sell to collectors. What could he more natural, then, than that her husband, Otto, a Phoenix psychiatrist, should give her the Pottery House as a special gift? "It was designed (originally) by Frank Lloyd Wright for two potters, a husband and a wife," Ronnie Bendheim said. "The whole house is like one big vessel." The Bendheims' delight in their new bowl-shaped house on a northeast Phoenix hillside has been marred, however, by an unforeseen event. The couple has learned that their Pottery House, completed in "January, has a twin in Santa Fe, N.M. "My husband was under the impression that he had bought a 'one and only,' " Bendheim said. "I was really upset when our daughter showed me an article in a Tucson paper about another Pottery House in Santa Fe. It was a big disappointment to us." In bittersweet tones, she added, "But they (the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation at Taliesin West, which contracted for both homes) don't seem to feel bad about it, because they have another house." How the Pottery House almost came to be built in the 1940s, and later how it was put up in two places within a year, is a study in microcosm of what's been happening to Frank Lloyd Wright's material legacy since he died in 1959. Ronnie Bendheim said the couple first approached Taliesin to ask about a Wright design in 1982. They were introduced to then Taliesin Associate Charles Robert Schiffner, who is best known for the House of the Future, a computerized home at Ahwatukee. Almost immediately Schiffner suggested the Pottery House for the Bendheims. In part this was because he sat next to Taliesin associate Charles Montooth, who tried in 1980 to flesh out Wright's renderings of the. Pottery House for another client who later reneged. "I also knew about it because this was one of Mr. Wright's more published designs," he said. In fact, Wright sketched several versions of the Pottery House between 1941 and 1943 for Lloyd Burlingham of El Paso, Texas, who wanted it for a sandy site northwest of the city. Wright's rough drawings, Schiffner said, are small about 3 inches in diameter and inexact, portraying a house of rammed earth and, in different stages of development, one or two stories high. Letters in the Taliesin archives indicate that in 1942 Burlingham asked for "substantial additions and alterations" to enlarge the bedrooms and add a chapel. Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, Taliesin archivist, said negotiations were broken off later that year and dropped altogether after Burlingham died. The concept, however, continued to intrigue Wright enthusiasts who often divide the master's work into periods for example, his early prairie-school period. They seem unable to classify the Pottery House. "this house is so unique in Mr. Wright's work. There's nothing you can say this grew out of or evolved from nothing," Schiffner said. Schiffner worked with other Taliesin associates to translate Wright's concept into a concave i -. v.. . f .TO.- mmmm A v' 'l - r - - toy. , 1 f .l)S"."''f ! .. .v t- 4 ViLfi if r v '"-r v ';1 III .... Gary Ulik' Republic Otto Bendheim gave the Pottery House to his wife, Ronnie, a potter, as a gift, pot-shaped fireplace inside the living room. Wright's drawings, Schiffner Among innovations that architect Charles Robert Schiffner added were a said, called for a fireplace half in and half outside the structure. 2,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 3-bath house in northeast Phoenix. He retained the original oval shape but formed it of plaster over wood forms, raking the surface to resemble the uneven texture of a pot made with clay coils. "I made an analysis for building it with adobe but ran into problems with codes," Schiffner said. "There was also the cost factor." Arizona building departments typically make it difficult to build with adobe. Schiffner finally chose a one-story floor plan, coloring the house the red of Camelback Mountain and centering a swimming pool in the interior patio to provide a setting for a stone sculpture by the Bendheims' son, Fred. "The original house had three eucalyptus trees and a fountain, but not a pool," Schiffner said. "This house is an interpretation of Mr. Wright's conceptual design which had to be molded by the site, the codes, the client's needs and the budget." But by the time the house was completed in January (construction was delayed by contractor troubles), it was already the second Pottery House. Santa Fe developer Charles Klotsche finished a 5,000-square-foot version in April 1985. He built it as a "spec house," that is, one constructed for resale. "I read about it in a book," he said. "We find they (Wright designs) are pretty salable." Klotsche lived there three weeks just time for the tony magazine, Architectural Digest, to photograph it. Then the owner of Klotsche Properties sold it for an undisclosed sum. Klotsche knew the Bendheims had started their home before he did, he said, but was not deterred. "Ours is the only house by Frank Lloyd Wright that's adobe," he explained. Today, Sotheby's International Realty lists the Pottery House in Santa Fe for sale for $2.2 million. It is offered by a bank trust. What was the role of Taliesin in all this? After all, the foundation controls Wright's unbuilt designs, his letters, lectures, photographs and related memorabilia. Archivist Pfeiffer said Taliesin requires that clients wanting an original Wright design hire a Taliesin architect and pay a fee of 15 percent of the project. William Wesley Peters, foundation chairman, - Wright, SS ,-;Lr. ,r4fH I f ' , t , vJr;fevJ L if WArC-fU : ;:f:-:;&i;fe; 7,?a .,..,. '.Wj.- ,.. ,. . ,, ... t, , a. ,u r,,,,,.,, H, : m ,t,..lii - , t ,v y, n, 1 1 Architect stacks his confidence in do-it-yourself house theory The late Frank Lloyd Wright sketched this version of a Usonion Automatic House, a build-it-yourself project he believed would make better housing accessible to the masses. By ANN PATTERSON Arizona Republic Staff The theory was that everyone could own a home. If a builder's house cost too much, then one could construct the house oneself. "It was an idea Frank Lloyd Wright pursued throughout his lifetime," said Tom Casey, an architect and engineer at Taliesin West, Wright's school in Scottsdale. "It was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's ways of giving democracy to everyone every man could own his own house. The possibility was there. The way to do it was for him to build it himself." Casey is busy developing construction plans for a do-it-yourself house adapted from Wright's sketches in Taliesin archives. He also is trying to conquer still another engineering challenge. A coalition of arts groups headed by the Scottsdale Art Center Association has commissioned Taliesin Associated Architects to create a Wright-designed Usonian Automatic House for a traveling exhibition that will tour as many as seven of the nation's major museums. The exhibit, which also will include Wright's drawings, letters and photographs, will begin its travels in 1988 and end up permanently in an undetermined Scottsdale site, two years later. Casey's challenge is not only to create a house true to Wright's renderings of a 1951 house but also within the coming year to design a home that can be taken apart and shipped from city to city by truck. "One of our tasks is to devise a way to make this house portable. The idea is it will be trucked around," Casey said. Casey and Taliesin associate David Dodge took on the task after Scottsdale agreed to give $300,000 toward eventual ownership of the 1,800-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath house that will become a Scottsdale tourist attraction and educational tool. In all, the exhibition is expected to cost between $1.2 million and $1.5 million. Casey believes a Usonian Automatic House will be a big hit when Americans across the nation see it because it offers affordable housing. He points to the popularity of kit houses as proof that there's a market for do-it-yourself houses like the Usonian Automatic House. Wright coined the term Usonian Automatic from - Theory, S4

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