Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Restoring Wright Buildings with 3d printing [updated]

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Millard House or “La Miniatura”

While everyone has been talking about trying to 3d print houses, Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘textile block’ buildings are being restored for pennies in the pound with 3d printed textured blocks.

His Annie Pfeiffer Chapel at Florida Southern College—part of a composition of twelve buildings at the South Florida campus designed as a “harmonious whole expressing the spirit of the college free from grandomania:--has had is having a makeover with the help of 3d-printed textile blocks replacing weathered and aged blocks.

The cost to recast Wright’s blocks by hand proved prohibitively expensive in the past…until the arrival of the affordable 3D printer.
    Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources and the emergence of affordable 3D printing technology, the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel was
recently restored in exacting architectural detail.
    Architect Jeff Baker of
Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects oversaw the 12-month grant project, turning to the aid of 3D printers to replicate and replace what was once a tedious manual process. 3D printing significantly reduced both cost and effort to complete the architectural restoration, allowing Baker’s team to integrate 2,000 distinctive coloured glass tiles into Wright’s original design textile blocks, recreating the jewelled box effect envisioned by the architect.
    “The success found on this project is a milestone not only in the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings on the FSC campus but also for similar textile block projects designed by Wright and other architects throughout the nation,” enthused Baker.

This opens up possibilities not just for restoration, but for new textile block buildings as well.

And not just new and inexpensive textile buildings – new and economical methods of applied ornament as well. Just imagine what Wright’s master Louis Sullivan could have done with a few industrial 3d printers instead of being restricted to hand-crafted forms for cast iron, plaster and terracotta!

Coping of Louis Sullivan’s Wainwright Building


[Pics from, Florida Rambler, Design Milk, When the Sidewalk Ends and 3dprint]


  1. Thanks for posting this story about this innovative development here at Florida Southern College. One correction to the post, however. The restoration of the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel has not been completed. As the original story on our website, linked above, states, the blocks are still being made using the 3-D printed molds. Eventually, the west wall of the chapel will be replaced using the blocks. Thanks again. -- Cary McMullen, FSC

  2. Thanks for that clarification, Cary. I've corrected the post.

    Best wishes for a very exciting project!

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  5. awesome 3d printing used for this house amazing design use create really great job


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