Thursday, October 28, 2010

Houston, That's a Go for Re-entry

Fuermann and Sons' 1907 photo of the entry hall / pergola.
Following several months where the Martin House was hermetically sealed for the painstaking process of ACM (Asbestos Containing Material) removal, the "all clear" has been issued, and public tours will again be allowed to enter the main house - albeit in a limited fashion - beginning on Monday, November 1.  Tours will enter the front door of the Martin House, and proceed along the entry hall axis, exiting onto the pergola.  This pathway through the Martin House will afford visitors a view of spaces to either side of the hall, where restoration work is ongoing.  

While only a partial reclamation of the Martin House interior, this change to the compromised tour route is significant, because visitors will once again have the full experience of the breathtaking vista from the front door of the house down the telescopic pergola and into the top-lit conservatory, where Nike presides over all.

Greatbatch Shines in AL

The "enlightening" collaboration between Toshiko Mori and Arup to infuse the Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion with light - both natural and artificial - is profiled in this month's edition of Architectural Lighting.  More HERE.

Friday, October 22, 2010

One Down (Sixteen to Go)

At one time, the Martin House was graced by seventeen pieces of art glass in the horizontal plane:  skylight and laylight panels in the Bursar's office, living room, unit room pier clusters and main stairway landing.  A few of these pieces have been identified in public and private collections, and a few have shown up on the auction block.  But all have eluded the MHRC's best efforts to return them to the Martin House.  Until now.

Yesterday, the MHRC took possession of a stunning skylight / laylight panel from the three-panel Bursar's office array.  This acquisition was the result of over a decade of patient, careful research and relationship-building by our restoration architect, Ted Lownie.  The panel was loaned from the anonymous owner for the "Windows" exhibition at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in 1999, and it has been high on our "wish list" ever since.  

The importance of this acquisition cannot be overstated;  having just one such example will allow us to perfectly reproduce all the other horizontal art glass for the house with complete accuracy as to the color and type of glass used, as the same palette is shared by all the skylight and laylight panels in the house.

Greatbatch Goes Global

Adding to its growing list of accolades, Toshiko Mori's Eleanor & Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion has been shortlisted for an award from the World Architecture Festival held in Barcelona this November.  

Joining the Greatbatch Pavilion in the nominations for the "Display" category are the likes of Foster + Partners Fortaleza Hall at the Johnson Wax complex in Racine, Wisconsin, and the Danish and Spanish Pavilions from the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.  

Now, how do you say "I'd like to thank Mr. Wright" in Spanish? 

Friday, October 15, 2010

AIA Accolades

Ted Lownie, with NYS Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro
The American Institute of Architects New York State (AIANYS) will present a 2010 Design Award to Hamilton Houston Lownie Architects (HHL) of Buffalo for the firm’s restoration of the Martin House Complex.  This “Award of Excellence” in the Historic Preservation category will be conferred on HHL during the AIANYS’  President’s Dinner and Design Awards Presentation tonight (10/15) in Buffalo in recognition of their outstanding  work in the reconstruction of the pergola, conservatory and carriage house and the exterior restoration of the Darwin Martin House.
This award is among  selected projects representing exceptional work by AIANYS members in eleven categories:  Adaptive Reuse, Commercial / Industrial (Large and Small Projects), Historic Preservation, Institutional, Interiors, International, Residential (Large and Small Projects), Unbuilt and Urban Planning / Design.  The criteria used by the juries included design quality, program resolution, innovation, thoughtfulness and technique.  HHL shares accolades in the Historic Preservation category with restorations of New York’s Beacon Theatre and Empire State Building (both by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Partners LLP).
HHL has been involved in the renewal of the Martin House Complex for more than a decade.  The work is now in its final phase, focusing on the interior of the Martin House, and is the most ambitious restoration and reconstruction of a Wright-designed structure ever undertaken.  The project has been recognized by the national and international media as an outstanding effort to preserve one of Wright’s masterworks of the Prairie era.

“The Martin House restoration and reconstruction, which we began in 1992, has been and continues to be, a project which continually provides unparalleled opportunities for professional growth architecturally.  Working on the Martin House is a genuine privilege,” reflected HHL Founding Architect Theodore L. Lownie.  Managing Partner Matthew W. Meier observed: “As architects, it’s truly been a privilege to devote nearly two decades of our professional service to research, stabilize, repair, reconstruct and restore Frank Lloyd Wright’s self-proclaimed ‘opus' – located right here in our own back yard!”

Toshiko Mori, speaking at the opening of the Greatbatch Pavilion
The Martin House Restoration Corporation is also extremely gratified that the AIANYS will present another award for its campus’s Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion (2009) to Toshiko Mori Architect (TMA) of New York City.  Mori will receive an “Award of Excellence” in the Institutional category. TMA previously received an “Honor” Design Award from the Buffalo/WNY Chapter of the AIA in 2009, and another from the AIA New York (New York City) Chapter in 2010 for the design of the Greatbatch Pavilion.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Asbestos We Can

The MHRC is rejoicing this week at receiving the "all clear" from Phase 5A contractors who have been performing asbestos abatement over the summer.  The removal of massive amounts of ACM (Asbestos Containing Materials) from the Martin House is complete, and the air and surfaces of the interior thoroughly cleaned. We are all too happy to bid farewell to this potentially hazardous material (PHM, perhaps?).

This is great news for the Martin House staff as well as for our visitors.  We've cleared a major, messy hurdle in pursuing the complete, interior restoration of the house, and it also means that we may regain access (albeit limited) to the house - a pathway from the front door through the entry hall to the pergola - in the near future.  For the public, this means the return of a semblance of our "traditional" tour route, but also an opportunity to see other interior restoration in progress.

As a curator, it's always difficult to have one's collection (in this case a building) so compromised and inaccessible.  This first segment of Phase 5A has obfuscated various research and interpretation efforts at the Martin House; but in the long view, it has paved the way for the full experience of Wright's richly detailed interior to take shape once again.  The rewards will be well worth enduring this temporary "siege" on the house.  

Friday, October 1, 2010


Louis Sullivan:  The Struggle for American Architecture looks like a great film - and the first ever - on the life and work of Lieber Meister Louis Sullivan, coming to a theater near you (specifically, the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 8 PM)

Click HERE to purchase tickets...