Friday 2 February 2007

Three Houses - Architect Don Erickson

Three beautiful and very different examples of organic architecture here below by former Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice Don Erickson, who passed away in October last year.

House for Erickson's father, Inverness, Illinois, in 1951.

J. Mayes Residence, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, 1954, Photo by Jim Herrlin.

Charles Matthies Residence, Park Ridge, Illinois, 1962. Photo by Jim Herrlin.

The houses were featured at the 'Wright in Racine' blog, where you can also find these pithy observations by Erickson:
“You graduate from college - I didn’t - and as Mr. Wright said, you go in a perfectly good plum and come out an inexperienced prune. You come out not being able to design a door jamb. Now your education starts, if you can get a job. You don’t know anything, so you're basically worthless.

“I’ve thought about it a lot, I think the students should be taught some basics so when they get out the field they can do something. Maybe you need an apprenticeship, like doctors have, so you can actually handle a patient. Kids basically don’t have a clue as to how to put a building together. My experiences at U of I was that my first day there I was to design a tourist information building. I thought I was going to learn how to design a building form the ground up You stared at a blank piece of paper expecting the design to come up out of the paper. It doesn’t work that way, it comes from the mind to the paper.

“Some architects sit and doodle with the computer, and the computer comes up with the design. It should come from the brain. I don’t know why professors don’t teach how to design. You don’t touch the paper until the design is worked out your head.

“My theory is you don’t design until you analyze what the clients needs are. You have to analyze the problem. You do that up here, not with a pencil. When you analyze the problem, the solution becomes apparent. The problem becomes the solution which becomes the idea. I always come up with the idea sitting and listening to classical music, or driving in a car, or over the roar of the jet engine, flying cross country. You argue with yourself. You become enough of a critic to overcome the euphoria of an idea. You have to bring the euphoria to something which is manageable, which works, which is within your budget.

“You have to make love to a brick, or a piece of steel, or glass. You have to understand what glass does for a building. Is it a hole to let light in, or does it not exist and work with space? How do you use you use your materials? What are traditional ways of doing things? Then build on tradition and find your own way of doing things. About five years after leaving college, you should be reasonably proficient, and then maybe worth your salt.”
All photos are courtesy of Mark Hertzberg at the 'Wright in Racine' blog.

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1 comment:

arketect said...

For more about Don Erickson and his problem solving, check out my blog: