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Wright Studies
Paul and Ida Trier Residence, Johnston, Iowa (1956) (S.398)
 
The average temperature in early March hovers around freezing in central Iowa. Our stop in Johnston, Iowa, just north of Des Moines was no different. On a trip from Chicago to Seattle with my daughter, we had the opportunity to visit with Ida Trier and see the home that has been her residence for over fifty years. Icicles hung from the eaves, creating natural designs. "I wanted a home where icicles by invitation might beautify the eves... icicles came to hang staccato from the eaves." wrote Frank Lloyd Wright, in his Autobiography.
      We timidly knocked on the door, wanting to photograph the exterior of the home. Ida Trier answered and graciously invited us to view the Living Room. Images came flooding back of my visit in 1989, to the Usonian Automatic Traveling Exhibit in Bellevue, Washington.
      Our conversation drifted back to her experience with Wright, and building their home. I asked why they decided to hire Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home for them. Without hesitation she answered, "My husband Paul said we couldn't afford a $40,000 piece of artwork, but we could afford a house that was a piece of art." She continued, "We did out homework. We visited all the Wright home in Iowa and Wisconsin, asking what people liked and disliked in their Wright homes. We decided not to go with radiant heat in the floors."
      The Trier Residence is based on the Usonian Exhibition House that was built in 1953 on the site of The Guggenheim Museum. The Trier Residence was the second home to utilize this floor plan. The first being the Feiman Residence (S.371). The Trier's original floor plan created approximately 1740 square feet of living space, not including the Work Shop. The Living Room occupied thirty percent of the living space. Wright's initial drawing of the home shows that he conceived this home as a Usoniam Automatic, constructed of 12 x 24" concrete blocks. She pointed toward the Living Room wall of doors and perforated light screen window pilasters. "The perforated triangles were originally designed as squares, but we couldn't afford squares." The Triers visited Taliesin to review the working drawings of the home. "Paul watched Wright draw the design of the
 

perforated panels. He wasn't happy with the first design, so Wright designed a second. All panels were unique to each house," she explained.
      The working drawings specify the home to be constructed of brick. The Triers elected to use brick, and then substituted brick tile, to save construction costs. "We chose to use brick tile because it was cheaper. A mason did all the brick tile work," Ida said. After fifty years, the brick tile still achieved a flawless brick appearance. The 4 x 12" size remained consistent with Wright's original dimensions.
      She reminisced about the furniture. "Paul built all the furniture. Wright designed the Dining Room table 3-4 inches shorter than the standard dining room table to make the ceiling look taller," she explained. "My son rebuilt the chairs when the originals wore out."
      She mentioned that her sight was failing. When asked how she was able to get around in her home, a slight smile appeared on her face and she paused. Her face lit up,  "I know every square inch of this home."
      As a side note, in
"Frank Lloyd Wright Monograph 1951  -1959  ", page 230, there is a photograph that contains an original statue from the City National Bank Building (1909  S.155) in Mason City, Iowa.
      There are many classic Wright Usonian details. The cantilevered roof extends out over the Entryway. The mortar is tinted, the vertical joints are flush, and the horizontal joints are raked. There are mitered glass corners, a massive fireplace, and clerestory windows that allow natural light into the Living Room. The Living Room's ceiling starts below seven feet and opens up to nearly eleven feet. There are three built-in Planters, an element that grounded Wright homes with the environment. The roof cantilevers out over the Living Room's Terrace. The Living Room's Southern wall of floor to ceiling doors and unique light screen window pilasters open outward, blending interior with exterior. Glass intersects and is imbedded into the brick-tile wall. Windows and doors open outward. Perforated light screen windows, run along the length of the Gallery, allowing natural light. Quoting Paul "A piece of Art."  March 2010.

     
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  Original Drawing    Exterior Photographs    Interior Photographs    NY Usonian Exhibition House 
  Floor Plan    Light Screens    Aerial View    Usonian Automatic Homes    Related Books & Articles 
 

 

Original Drawing of the Trier Residence

 
Wright initially conceived this home as a Usoniam Automatic, constructed of 12 x 24" concrete blocks. The Triers elected to use brick, and then substituted brick tile, to save construction costs. The brick tile achieves a flawless brick appearance, and the 4 x 12" size is consistent with Wright's original dimensions. Courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
 
Although the Triers elected to use brick, the final home was built to the original floor plan.
 
Detail from original drawing.
 
Concrete block and glass columns were replaced with unique light screen window pilasters, the final home was built to the original floor plan.
 
 
 
Exterior Photographs By Douglas M. Steiner, March 2010
 
There are many classic Wright Usonian details. The cantilevered roof extends out over the Entryway. The mortar is tinted, the vertical joints are flush, and the horizontal joints are raked. There are mitered glass corners, a massive fireplace, and clerestory windows that allow natural light into the Living Room. The Living   Room's ceiling starts below seven feet and opens up to nearly eleven feet. There are three built-in Planters, an element that grounded Wright homes with the environment. The roof cantilevers out over the Living Room's Terrace. The Living Room's Southern wall of floor to ceiling doors and unique light...  (Continued)
 
Text and Photographs by Douglas M. Steiner, Copyright 2010
 
 
 
Interior Photographs By Douglas M. Steiner, March 2010
 
The Trier Residence is based on the Usonian Exhibition House (S.369) that was built in 1953 on the site for The Guggenheim Museum. The Trier Residence was the second home to utilize this floor plan. The first being the Feiman Residence (S.371). The Trier's original floor plan created approximately 1740 square feet of living space, not including the Work Shop. The Living Room occupied thirty percent of the living space.
      Classic Usonian elements are prominent in the Trier Residence. Built-in seating and shelving. The Living Room's cantilevered roof extends out over the Terrace.   (Continued)
 
Text and Photographs by Douglas M. Steiner, Copyright 2010
 
 
 
The 1953 New York Usonian Exhibition House (S.369) and The 1956 Trier Residence
 
The Trier Residence is based on the Usonian Exhibition House (S.369) that was built in 1953 on the site for The Guggenheim Museum. The Trier Residence was the second home to utilize this floor plan. The first being the Feiman Residence (S.371). Wright's initial drawing of the home shows that he conceived the Trier Residence as a Usoniam Automatic, constructed of 12 x 24" concrete blocks. The working drawings specify the home to be constructed of brick. The Triers elected to use brick, and then substituted brick tile, to save construction costs. The 4 x 12" size remained consistent with Wright's original... (Continued)
     
 
Text by Douglas M. Steiner, Copyright 2010
 
 
 
Floor Plan
 
The Trier Residence is based on the Usonian Exhibition House that was built in 1953 on the site of The Guggenheim Museum. Wright's initial drawing of the home shows that he conceived this home as a Usoniam Automatic, constructed of 12 x 24" concrete blocks. The working drawings specify the home to be constructed of brick. The Triers elected to use brick, and then substituted brick tile, to save construction costs. The 4 x 12" size remained consistent with Wright's original dimensions. The original floor plan, designed on a four foot square grid system, created approximately 1740 square feet of living space, 1884 including   the Work Shop. The Living Room occupied thirty percent of the living space. The two smaller bedrooms were originally designed as a single "Children's" bedroom. The Triers chose to split it into two. The smaller at 8 x 12 and the larger at 12 x 12. The Master Bedroom was approximately 14 x 14, not including the Master Bath. According to Storrer, John Ottenheimer and the Taliesin Associated Architects completed construction after Wright's death in 1960, and enclosed the Carport creating a Playroom for the children, as well as additional storage. The roof was extended in front of the Work Shop, forming the existing Car Port.

Floor plan Copyright 2010, Douglas M. Steiner.
 
 
 
Light Screens
 
Wright's initial drawing of the home shows that he conceived this home as a Usoniam Automatic, constructed of 12 x 24" concrete blocks. The Triers visited Taliesin to review the working drawings of the home. "Paul watched Wright draw the design of the perforated panels. He wasn't happy with the first design, so Wright   designed a second. All panels were unique to each house," she explained. Ida pointed toward the Living Room wall of doors and perforated light screen window pilasters. "The perforated triangles were originally designed as squares, but we couldn't afford squares." Not only do the three sets of double...  (Continued)
 
Perforated light screens, which run along the north side of the bedroom wing, provide privacy and allow natural light into the Gallery.
 
Top

Bottom

The Living Room's Southern wall of doors and decorative light screen window pilasters open outward, blending interior with exterior. The top portion of the pilaster window panels open independently, allowing ventilation into the Living Room.
 
Text and Illustrations by Douglas M. Steiner, Copyright 2010.
 
 
 
Aerial View of the Trier Residence
Courtesy of the Microsoft Corporation, 2010
 
 
 
Usonian Automatic Homes (Built)
 
 
 
Related Items From the Usonian Automatic Traveling Exhibit
Books, Brochures, PR, Articles
 
 
 
Related Books and Articles
"An Autobiography", Wright, 1932, page 176.
"Sixty Years of Living Architecture: The Work of Frank Lloyd Wright", Traveling Exhibition, 1951-1956.
“Sixty years of Living Architecture”, Architectural Forum, January, 1951, pages 73-108.
“Sixty years of Living Architecture”, Architectural Forum Offset, January, 1951, pages 73-108.
"Frank Lloyd Wright: Sixty Years of Living Architecture" Book Review, Arch. Forum, Dec., 1952, pages 158, 166.
"Frank Lloyd Wright exhibits 60 years’ work", Architectural Forum, October, 1953, page 45.
"Wright Makes New York, Sixty Years of Living Architecture Exhibit", Arch. Record, Oct., 1953, page 20.
"Review of Exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum, Oct 9 - Nov 15, 1953", Art News, October, 1953, page 44.
“Sixty Years of Living Architecture. Work of Frank Lloyd Wright". Arch. Forum, Nov., 1953, pages 152-155.
"Sixty Years of Living Architecture", House & Home - November, 1953, pages 118-121.
"The Natural House", Wright, 1954, pages 115-125
"Frank Lloyd Wright Day proclaimed in Chicago", Architectural Forum, November 1956, page 21.
"Frank Lloyd Wright, His Life, His Work, His Words", Wright, 1966, pp. 219-220.
"Frank Lloyd Wright 1869 - 1969", Northwest Architect, July-August 1969, page 49.
"Living with Wright: Ida Trier, Johnston, Iowa", Midwest Living, June 1987, Pp 101-105.
"Related items from the Usonian Automatic Traveling Exhibition" 1987 - 1990.
"Frank Lloyd Wright: Preserving an Architectural Heritage, Domino’s Collect", Hanks, 1989, pages 112-113.
"Frank Lloyd Wright Monograph 1951 -1959", Text: Pfeiffer, Bruce Brooks;
Edited and Photographed: Futagawa, Yukio, 1990, pages 229-230.
"The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion", Storrer, 1993, page 427.
"Picturing Wright", Guerrero, 1994, pages 136-141, 144-155.
"Lost Wright", Lind, 1996, Pp 148-149, 156-159.
"Frank Lloyd Wright: Cassina I Maestri", 1997, page 43.
"Bexley Heath Ltd.: Spring 1997", page 5.
"Frank Lloyd Wright’s House Beautiful", Maddex, 2000, Pages 162-163.
"Interior Style & Design", Ehrlich, 2003, pages 69, 126.
"Wright-Sized Houses", Maddex, Diane, 2003, pages 50-51, 60, 134.
"Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful. Designing an American Way", Boyd; Pfeiff, 2005, pages 66-67, 79.
"Frank Lloyd Wright in New York. The Plaza Years, 1954-1959", Hession; Pickrel, 2007, pages 99-101.
"Frank Lloyd Wright, Complete Works 1943-1959", Pfeiffer; Gossel, 2009, page 475.
"Wright Study: Usonian Automatic Homes", Steiner, 2009
 
 
 
Additional Wright Studies
 
Adelman (S.344)    Banff National Park Pavilion (S.170)    Bitter Root Inn (S.145)    Blair Residence (S.351)    Blumberg Residence (Project) 
 
Boomer Residence (1953 - S.361)    Brandes Residence (S.350)    Browne's Bookstore (S.141)    Como Orchard Summer Colony (S.144)  
 
Cooke Residence (1953)    Copper Weed Urn & Weed Holder   
Disappearing City (1932)    Elam Residence (S.336)    "Eve of St. Agnes" (1896)  
 
Feiman Residence (S.371)    Frank L. Smith Bank (S.111)    Gordon Residence (S.419)   
Griggs Residence (S.290)    Hartford Resort (Project 1948) 
  Heller Residence (S.038)   
Henderson Residence (S.057)   
Hoffman Showroom (S.380)    Horner Residence (S.142)    "House Beautiful" 1896-98  
  Husser Residence (S.046)    Imperial Hotel (S.194) Silverware and Monogram    Japanese Print Stand (1908)    Kalil Residence (S.387)  
 
Lake Geneva Hotel (S.171)
   Lamp Cottage, Rocky Roost (S.021)    Lockridge Medical Clinic (S.425)    Lykes Residence (S.433)  
 
Marden Residence (S.357)    March Balloons    Midway Gardens (S.180)    Midway Gardens Dish (S.180)    Nakoma Clubhouse  
 
Nakoma Furniture    Opus 497    Pebbles & Balch Remodel (S.131)    Pilgrim Congregational Church (S.431) 
Loren B. Pope (S.268) 
  
Roloson Rowhouse (S.026)    Shavin Residence (S.339)    Sixty Years Exhibition 1951-56    J. L. Smith Residence (1955)    Steffens Residence (S.153)  
  Stohr Arcade (S.162)    Stromquiest Residence (S.429)    Sutton Residence (S.106)    Teater Studio (S.352)    Thurber Art Galleries (S.154)  
  Tracy Residence (S.389)    Trier Residence (S.398)    Usonian Automatic Homes    Williams (Way & Williams) (S.033)  
 
Wyoming Valley School (S.401)   
Zimmerman Residence, (S.333) 
 
Frank Lloyd Wright's First Published Article (1898)
 
Photographic Chronology of Frank Lloyd Wright Portraits
 
"Frank Lloyd Wright's Nakoma Clubhouse & Sculptures." A comprehensive study of Wright’s Nakoma Clubhouse and the Nakoma and Nakomis Sculptures. Now Available. Limited Edition. More information.
 
 
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