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Gregor S. and Elizabeth B. Affleck House

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1941, Frank Lloyd Wright; 2007–present restoration, Lawrence Technological University architecture students. 1925 N. Woodward Ave.

Gregor S. Affleck, a chemical engineer who invented a quick-drying automobile paint and established a manufacturing facility for it in Hamtramck, was quite familiar with Wright and his architecture. Originally from Chicago, Affleck had spent his youth near Spring Green, Wisconsin, and had known the architect. In 1940, when Affleck and his wife, Elizabeth, commissioned Wright to design their home, they were uninterested in traditional house styles and particularly fond of Fallingwater (1935), the residence Wright designed for Edgar Kaufmann at Bear Run, Pennsylvania. Wright first instructed the Afflecks to “find a site that no one else can build anything on,” so, according to Affleck's daughter, they selected some acreage in Bloomfield Hills containing a wooded ravine with a small stream leading to a pond.

For this “home for sloping ground,” Wright created a house in the Usonian mode, as he had developed the solution in response to his other clients' needs for low-cost but aesthetically pleasing dwellings. A model of the Affleck house was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in November 1940; the actual house was built by contractor Harold Turner in 1941. The Affleck house represents Wright's continually developing philosophical concern for the self-sufficiency of the individual, the decentralization of society, and reverence for nature, as well as the utilization of technology and novel building techniques. Walls are built of pinkish bricks and chamfered, lapped horizontal cypress boards over inclined plywood cores. The bedroom and bathroom doors are similarly constructed (with mitered joints and two-way slopes). Although the facade facing Woodward Avenue has only a narrow line of windows under the eaves, the opposite ravine-facing walls feature full-length windows. A central loggia, which serves as a transitional space between the bedroom and living areas, gives views of the pool below and of the sky through horizontal panes. The elongated living/dining room, with its massive brick fireplace, is enclosed by a large cantilevered east balcony and a south terrace. Now owned by Lawrence Technological University (LTU), the house is open to the public by appointment.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert
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Citation

Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Gregor S. and Elizabeth B. Affleck House", [Bloomfield Hills, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MI-01-OK3.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 159-160.

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