Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Construction

“The traditional methods by which structural members of the house are covered, onion-like, with layers of finishing materials is abandoned.” 
R. M. Schindler

The composition of the house can be described with three interlocking L-figures, that revolve around the central fire place in between Pauline Schindler’s and Marian Chase’s Studios. One L-figure for the Schindler wing, another for the Chace wing, and a third one for the guest bedroom. 

Sketch of First Floor Plan

Location of House in West Hollywood
In a letter to Pauline Gibling’s parents, Schindler outlined his intentions with the design, and at the same time asked for a loan. 

“The basic idea was to give each person his own room - instead of the usual distribution - and to do most of the cooking right on the table - making it more of a social ‘campfire’ affair, than the disagreeable burden to one member of the family...”
R.M Schindler 

The lot on 835 North Kings Road was purchased on November 21, 1921, shortly after their camping trip in Yosemite National Park. Interestingly enough, Irving Gill’s Dodge house was only one block away. The construction of the Dodge House was also an influence in the way that their house was built.

In order to save costs, both Schindler and Chase decided to work as Architect and builder. By February 13, 1922, Schindler had secured a mortgage of $2000 from a bank, and another $5000 from Pauline’s parents. On the same day they also celebrated the groundbreaking. The house sat on a slab on grade foundation, which served as a foundation and the final floor, and eliminated the need for a basement. Chace had borrowed some concrete equipment from Gill, and by the middle of March, they were casting the concrete tilt up slab walls. These rectangular panels were poured onto wooden forms, and membranes like soft soap, kraft paper and burlap were used to prevent adhesion to the slab. Eventually these slabs were raised using a tripod with a block and tackle. Schindler and Chace learned the process of tilt-slab construction for Irving Gill. This process was also used in many projects like the Dodge house, and La Jolla Woman’s Club. In between each panel was an insert of 3 inch wide glass that would let in light. The erection of the redwood frames was the next step in the construction. 

“The tilt-up panels (45 inches wide, 8 1/2 feet high, tapering in thickness from 9 1/2 inches at the bottom to 5 inches at the top) are bold in scale. The concrete is smooth and gray, the glass both clear and milky white (sandblasted), and the Insulite is tan” 

Smith 33
Timeline of Construction showing the different steps of the process

Forming the concrete slab. March 15-30, 1922

Tilting the slab. April 24, 1922

Exterior Shot

Smith, Kathryn, and Grant Mudford. Schindler House. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001.

Kucker, Patricia. "Framework: Construction and Space in the architecture of Frank Lloyd Write and Rudolf Schindler." The Journal of Architecture Volume 7 Summer 2002. (accessed December 8, 2012)

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