Saving Wright: The Freeman House and the Preservation of Meaning, Materials, and Modernity

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9780393733020: Saving Wright: The Freeman House and the Preservation of Meaning, Materials, and Modernity
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Winner of the Society of Architectural Historians' 2014 Antoinette Forrester Downing Book Award; Winner of the University of Mary Washington Center for Historic Preservation's 2012 Historic Preservation Book Award 

"Dear Mrs. Freeman: I am glad to know that you are still happily 'at home.' Sincerely, Frank Lloyd Wright."

Winner of The University of Mary Washington Center for Historic Preservation's 2012 Historic Preservation Book Prize, this book is a case study on the preservation of an important work of modern architecture. The story of the Freeman House, and of the attempt to save it, entails almost all of the provocative issues that make historic preservation as a field so fascinating, technologically and theoretically complex, and politically charged.

Saving Wright chronicles the ongoing struggle to save Wright’s Freeman House in the Hollywood Hills, the setting for fascinating people and events but deeply flawed from the time it was built ninety-five years ago. The Freeman House was an experiment born out of Frank Lloyd Wright’s polemical vision of a new kind of architecture for the middle class, for modern America, and, in particular, for the Los Angeles foothills. Its design and construction were difficult, thus, along with many poor decisions, planting within a beautiful work of architecture the seeds of its own destruction.

Jeffrey M. Chusid, who lived in the house and studied it while Harriet Freeman was still alive and residing there and, later, after she gave it to the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California, examines the experimental “textile-block” construction system, the power of Wright’s architecture, the interaction of people and place, and the concepts and challenges of historic preservation―why and how we do it. The Freeman House is a valuable case study because it serves as a test of established preservation procedures and protocols, of building forensics and conservation techniques, and of the meaning of a historic site to overlapping and not necessarily compatible communities.

Saving Wright also received an honorable mention for the 2012 Lee Nelson Book Award from the Association for Preservation Technology, Intl. (APT).

200 photographs and drawings

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About the Author:

Jeffrey M. Chusid, is an architect and an associate professor in the historic preservation planning program at Cornell University. He has also taught at Harvard, the University of Southern California, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Texas at Austin. His professional work has included architectural design, planning for cultural landscapes and historic communities, and materials conservation projects in California, New York and Texas as well as China, Fiji, Bosnia, and Ukraine. He was the first United States coordinator for DOCOMOMO and the founding president of the Texas Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology and is currently president of the Society for the Preservation of Historic Cements. A past editor of the Journal of Architectural Education, he has lectured, written articles, and curated exhibitions on modernist architecture in India and in Southern California, with special emphasis on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Chusid was the director of the Freeman House, and its preservation architect, from 1986 to 1997.His book, Saving Wright, was awarded the 2014 Society of Architectural Historians Antoinette Forrester Downing Book Award and the 2012 Historic Preservation Book Prize by The University of Mary Washington Center for Historic Preservation, and received an honorable mention for the 2012 Lee Nelson Book Award from the Association for Preservation Technology, Intl. (APT).

Review:

"[C]omprehensive and compelling.... Chusid...deftly tackles the conservation issues that are arising with more modern buildings." (Press Release announcing Saving Wright won the 2012 Historic Preservation Book Prize from Mary Washington University.) 

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