Product Idea |

Weltzheimer/Johnson Frank Lloyd Wright House

I would like to submit for consideration an addition to the LEGO Architecture: Architect line this model of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house commonly known as the Weltzheimer/Johnson House, a.k.a. the Charles Weltzheimer Residence. This model was researched and designed by me in an effort to capture the essence of the first of the nine Usonian homes that Wright designed. In it, many features of the Usonian style are used, including cantilevered roofs, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors, stone slab floors, and wooden walls with built-in furniture.

While this is a large model, there are several features detailed below that I feel would have presented it being viable on a smaller scale; as such, a price tag of $100-$150 would not be unreasonable given the complexity and number of parts. In addition, being aimed at being built for display, there are several areas that are relatively fragile compared to a LEGO set built for play; however, none of these areas should suffer any problems while sitting on display.

Due to the scale, two of the details that stand out to those who visit the home (the stained croquet balls along the roof and the window motifs) had to be eliminated, in the case of the balls, or greatly simplified, in the case of the motifs. However, these are both details that, while unique, are not evident upon first viewing the house, and I do not feel that much, if anything, has been lost from removing them from this design. Other details, such as the "upper" roof coming around the back of the house, were unable to be confirmed through photographs available online of the house, and as such, will be updated as more photographs are found.

Designing a LEGO model of this house presented several particular challenges, the first of which is the floor itself. Wright designed the house with large, uniform 20"x40"stone slabs, visible even in his original plans for the house. As they are a key feature of the house, I felt that not including them would be a terrible disservice, and so 1x2 tiles in dark orange became the basis for the house's size. Using the plans, I created a silhouette of the house, working from the 1x2 tile grid to determine where to place walls, doorways (no interior doors are included because of the scale), and then outdoor patios. Then, once the basic floor plan was settled, I set to work furnishing the house, no small task at this size.

I was able to include many smaller details in the model, including what I had to assume was a washer/dryer combination (no reference pictures were available of several rooms), as well as the countertops, refrigerator, and oven of the kitchen. In other rooms, I was able to include such details as stools underneath the desks in each bedroom; a couch, several chairs, a piano, and the potted plant all seen in the living room, and the table, chairs, and couch all found in the dining area. One of the more difficult features of the house that I was able to include are the built-in shelves around the couch; a feature that would not be included in a standard LEGO model due to its relative fragility, but that I feel is allowable due to the nature of Architecture models to be primarily for display. Both bathrooms in the model (not pictured) have both the shower with an angled door and a toilet oriented identically to the original plans, though unfortunately there was no room to place a sink.

One challenge I encountered in the design of this model would have been unassailable were it not for embracing the spirit of a design instead of every last detail. The interior walls of the house are, as in most houses, much thinner than the exterior walls; however, due to the brick medium, I could not build a wall less than a stud wide at its base. However, at this scale, it would have made all four of the bedrooms too small to accurately place and presented walls that were nearly two feet thick! (The exterior walls should only be half as thick as they are; however, as there is a significant offset of red brick along the base of all non-brick walls, I feel that it does not affect the design). One of the notable features of much of the house is what some would call an exorbitant amount of shelving; in the kitchen, in the hallway, in the living and dining rooms, even in the entry hall. I took this aspect of the house's design and incorporated it into the bedrooms, using specific wall elements to create both the appearance of shelving and to allow for half-stud offsets for the beds to be placed, allowing for proportional beds that did not take up 2/3 of the room they were in. An extra benefit of this is that the rooms seem much bigger than they are in a top-down view of the model. Floor-to-ceiling windows are replicated using transparent brown 1x2x5 bricks to give the impression of the tall, thin double doors that are found throughout one side of the house.

Expect updates to this project occasionally as I obtain better pictures of the roof and back of the house, and thank you for supporting this project!