LETZERICH RANCH HOUSE: 1962-1963

LETZERICH RANCH HOUSE: 1962-1963
LETZERICH RANCH HOUSE: 1962-1963
LETZERICH RANCH HOUSE: 1962-1963
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Transcript of LETZERICH RANCH HOUSE: 1962-1963

  • Letzerich Ranch House. View of street side elevation. Photographer Maurice Miller.

    Arts & Architecture, October 1965. Page 12.

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    The Letzerich Ranch House was built at the end of a half-mile long, shell-paved road lined with an alle of mature live oak trees. The most impressive aspect of the Letzerich Ranch House was its exposed, dark stained heavy timber structural frame, a six-foot-by-eighteen-foot grid that lifted the floor three feet above the ground. Thirty-six six-inch square wood col-umns supported the floor and ceiling beams, which were made of doubled three-inch by twelve-inch dimensional lumber. Ceil-ings were ten-feet eleven-inches to the top of the ceiling beams. An asymmetrical, wood-framed terrace platform projected from the rear of the house to face Clear Creek, a meandering bayou

    that empties into Clear Lake five miles to the east. The liv-ing and dining area was contained in one large volume that spanned the depth of the house with smaller, enclosed service and sleeping areas flanking it.

    The exterior walls of the house were all glass. The gray-tinted solar glass was recessed six feet on the north and south sides and nine feet on the east and west sides to create a continuous exterior gallery. According to Arts & Architecture, All rooms were designed for through ventilation, and except for the kitch-en, are exposed to the prevailing southeast wind.174 Floors

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  • Letzerich Ranch House. Architectural Elevations. David Haid Fonds, Collection Centre Canadien dArchitecture/Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montral.

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    Letzerich Ranch House. Architectural plan. David Haid Fonds, Collection Centre Canadien dArchitecture/Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montral.

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  • LEFT: Letzerich Ranch House. Presentation site plan. Courtesy Stephen Fox.

    RIGHT: Above: Letzerich Ranch House. View of street side elevation. Photographer

    Maurice Miller. Arts & Architecture, October 1965. Page 13. // Below left: Letzerich

    Ranch House. View of side elevation. Photographer Maurice Miller. Arts & Architecture,

    October 1965. Page 13. // Below right: Letzerich Ranch House. View of living room.

    Photographer Maurice Miller. Arts & Architecture, October 1965. Page 13.

    174Hugo V. Neuhaus, Jr., Architect. Arts & Architecture. October 1965. 12. (The house

    was also equipped with central air-conditioning, which was not noted in the article.)

    175As with the Maher House project, the design of the Letzerich Ranch House predates

    similarly wood-framed Miesian houses by Ellwoodthe Moore House in Hollywood Hills,

    Los Angeles and the Kubly House in Pasadena, Californiaboth of 1964-1965. Ellwoods

    houses were intended to be steel-framed, and wood was substituted for reasons of economy.

    It is no longer known why the Letzerichs selected a wood frame for their house.

    were oak parquet and ceilings were exposed wood beams and tongue-and-groove wood decking. Walls were white-painted gypsum board. A photograph of the living room showed it furnished with a mixture of traditional furniture and mod-ern art. The asymmetrical fireplace was visually balanced by a ten-foot long cantilevered marble shelf.

    Although Haid used Miess Farnsworth House as the start-ing point for the Letzerich Ranch House, the two houses provoked different reactions from their visitors. The trans-parent, clear glass walls and smooth, white painted steel structure of the Farnsworth House imparts a sense of visual weightlessness as it hovers over its largely natural site. It appears almost as if it has been dropped into place from the sky. The Letzerich Ranch House, which was substantially larger in all its dimensions, had a rough textured, dark col-ored structural frame and deeply recessed, gray-tinted glass that seemed almost opaque on sunny days. In addition, its symmetrical front elevation and its siting as the visual ter-minus of the oak alle firmly fixed it in its man-made site. In the design of the Letzerich Ranch House, Haid created a compelling, regionally inflected modern design that used locally available building materials, made accommodations for passive cooling in a hot, humid climate, and situated the house within an existing rural landscape that evoked mythical, patrician, Southern lifeways.175

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