Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Raleigh Modern 2

Next to the Kamphoefner house, and built shortly after, is the Fadum house, created for Ralph and Nancy Fadum. He was chair of the civil engineering department at NCSU; she was one of the first female attorneys to practice in the area as well as a student of modern design. According to the PNC tour's material, it was she who looked around for an architect, and upon consulting Henry Kamphoefner, settled on James W. Fitzgibbon, a design school faculty member who had come with Kamphoefner from the University of Oklahoma but remained in Raleigh only five years. (He is known in Raleigh also for the Paschal house.)

Photo: Raleigh Historic Districts Commission

From the tour material:

In Raleigh, the Fadum house "led the hit parade for months as it was going up," reported the News and Observer. A few "sidewalk superintendents" compared its form to a chicken coop, but it was generally admired as "A House of Light by Day and By Night," and for its sophisticated melding of natural materials and house to site.

As noted by Linda Edmisten [who wrote the National Register nomination], the building was the first in Wake County to use load-bearing wood columns to carry a cantilevered roof truss grid--thus sheltering spaces within non-load bearing brick and glass curtain walls. In 1951 Architectural Record praised the "light, suspended quality" created by the handling of the angle of the columns. The house, set on a concrete slab, rises from one story tall on the street side to a full two stories overlooking the Carolina Country Club gold course, with a marvelous expanse of glass opening up the interior space to nature. This arrangement was also planned to enhance energy efficiency, with the glass walls facing southeast and a deeply overhanging roof.

The house is a striking embodiment of Wright's Usonian principles. As [Raleigh architect] David Black explains, these included the modest size and cost; efficient use of space through open planning; zoning of spaces by use; innovation in structure and materials; and responsiveness to site and climate. In formal terms, the Usonian house typically features such materials as brick, plywood, and wood; flat or single-slope roofs, and expanses of glass to emphasize the indoor-outdoor relationship. Both the Kamphoefner and Fadum Houses display these features, but the Fadum House is "more explicitly Usonian and daring," To keep costs down, architect Fitzgibbon planned the house to use standard materials of steel, brick, wood, and plywood. He enhanced the economy of space with built-in cabinetry and other storage features. Another strong Wrightian influence is seen in the brick fireplace with sunken hearth and built-in settee, a cozy spot that complements the dramatic prospect of the glass curtain wall.

The Fadum house is undergoing an expansion on the scale of that of the Kamphoefner house. The architect is Brian Shawcroft (scroll down), a British native who was associated with the School of Design from 1960 to 1968 before striking out on his own. Much of his work is for institutions: it includes Davie Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill, soon to be demolished. (Davie's fate was sad though not unexpected news to Shawcroft, who was on hand for the tour.) It was obviously quite a design challenge to figure out how to "expand" this house: Shawcroft accomplishes it by "gently linking" (quoting the tour materials) the original structure to a brand new one.

See for yourself the new and the old.

Previously: Kamphoefner house.

Next: Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rothstein house, Uyanick-Eichenberger/Anderson house.

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