25 March 2008

Architecture for Auction



While I quite like the idea of museums collecting significant architecture, much in the same manner that they would collect significant work, I'm a little bit nervous about such pieces going up for auction. We can only hope that the type of people willing to purchase a well-known piece of architecture at auction, will respect the original structure much as they would respect an original painting.
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We can certainly say that the auction house Wright, which is putting Louis Kahn's Esherick House up for auction is trying to attract buyers interested in the architectural value of the house. The idea that they are committed to a collection of works including art, design, and architecture shows an intent to maintain these properties for future generations. And their press release is certainly geared towards those of us interested in the architectural and historical value of the house with this to say about the property...

"Situated at a perfect angle on a property measuring more than half an acre, the house has a striking presence. The approach features a planar composition with a textured mortar finish bisected by a strong vertical chimney, while keyhole windows framed with Apitong and placed at irregular intervals punctuate the front facade. The floor plan reveals Kahn’s refined design of two symmetrical side-by-side rectangles that allow for both openness and structural clarity. Kahn’s use of pure geometry in the facades and interior spaces speaks to archetypal references that Kahn drew on throughout his body of work. Here, like in all his buildings, Kahn united this architectural history with the modern present in a truly unique structure...

...The architect and 2006 Louis Kahn professor David Adjaye states, 'I had the great pleasure of visiting the Esherick House in the Spring of 2006. As a student I was always mesmerized by its playful graphic geometry of the windows and the deceptive simplicity of its plan. It was a real surprise to see the care and joy of the materials still very much intact and it being lived in as I’m sure Kahn would have approved. There were two particularly ecstatic moments for me. Firstly was ascending the beautifully crafted, Japanese- or Shaker-esque, staircase with its simple timber balustrade, which overlooks the living room. The second was opening the shutter of the window in the library where knowledge and nature seemed to freeze into one image. The Esherick House is definitely one of Kahn’s most important works which defined lessons he’d go on to use in later projects.' "

So, if you're interested in buying this lovely and historic property, check out the Wright auction. If the house itself isn't in your budget, the photos by Todd Eberle are worth a look.
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