Friday, January 29, 2010

Carl Stenstrom-Architect His Opus-Part Two

The following studies depicts Carl's efforts to reconcile size and shape along with exterior walls, balconies and windows. Interesting to see "Wrightian" design elements such as planters, water features and spires. In the early 1950's, Carl applied for the apprentice program at Taliesin. Upon hearing that Carl had two young chidren, Frank Lloyd Wright told him they didn't have accommodations at the time...disappointed, Carl soon was in Bartlesville, OK working on the Price Tower. I believe that is where he developed his love affair with concrete...though the geometry of this building is different from the Price Tower, there are similar characteristics.

The image below is a revision for an enclosed top floor. I don't know why but this sketch reminds me of drawings by Mendolsohn... These two sketches (above and below)are interesting...a shorter building design and below, it featured open balconies...are those spotlights shining into the sky? It appears there are semi-circular fence elements on the surrounding stone wall... perhaps to tie in with the balcony railing and the top of the roof deck enclosure that looks a lot like the skylight in Wright's Guggenheim?

The sketch above is an early perspective with "clunky" elevator towers that look awkward compared to the more refined later perspectives...Carl would often sketch at the top of the paper and have a lot of white space before you see the name of the project at the bottom, almost in the same way as Wright used the Japanese woodblock techniques in many of his earlier perspectives. Note the "inverted-L house" is omitted from the drawing.Once the final design concept was in place Carl built this model to help the client visualize the building...With an enormous number of drawings and effort expended, the client started to lose money on other investments, the early 1980's were an economic mess. Concurrently, he started losing interest in the building, which would have been complicated and expensive to build...he stopped paying Carl and during litigation the client committed suicide...

Below- This "Typical" floor plan is easier to read than the previous ones...

The reason I call this Carl's "Opus" is for the next fifteen years he met with developers in many cities and the Lake of the Ozarks as well as Branson, in an effort to get it built...Unfortunately, it never was. Below- The "Solar Deck"...

Below- Great photo of the model taken while at the lake.

Below- This angle shows the entrance on the north of the building and the car court with drive to underground parking.

Stay tuned...I'll post some other interesting work by Carl Stenstrom

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Carl Stenstrom-Architect- His Opus - Part One

It's been almost two years since my friend and architect, Carl passed away. I have had the pleasant/painful task of organizing his many drawings from a career that spanned over 40 years. Carl had to pay the bills, with hundreds of drawings for projects like U-Haul Stores nationwide to his "Wrightian" leanings such as the distinctive roof lines of his Gates BBQ designs. In his work you can see where his heart was...the more challenging the site, the more adventuresome the client, the opportunity for a more "organic" design...amplified his efforts. I call this his "Opus"...originally conceived in the late 1970's and after meeting an enthusiastic investor, John Lucas, Carl threw himself into creating a unique, eye-catching architecture for a dominant site west of the downtown skyline at 17th and Jefferson in KCMO. If you look closely at the renderings above, you will see in the background the concrete "inverted-L" house that was recently demolished...note the large stone wall that still remains at the site where a large modern house was constructed a few years ago...can't miss it when on Hwy I-35.
Carl worked and reworked his design, revising and manipulating space in the confines of a circular structure...the roof and balconies were challenging for him to resolve to his satisfaction, all the while dealing with and encouraging a temperamental client to "stay the course".
The single unit plan below would have offered a lavish lifestyle with great city views.

Below- A revision of the double-unit plan(2 dwelling spaces on one floor)

Below...By February, 1982 the project was now called "Monticello West"...the owner of the tower would have the top floor, capped by a "Solar Deck" on the roof.

Part Two will feature more drawings of the exterior, a detailed model and the reason this building didn't get built...Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Architect, Louis S. Curtiss in Kingsville, TX - St.L.B.&M. General Offices

After spending the remaining three hour drive from Kingsville to the southernmost tip of Texas being perplexed by the Louis S. Curtiss Mystery Urns and the brief fuzzy image of a "railroad station" that appeared to be a Curtiss design, I set out to do an internet search on the worlds slowest wireless internet connection from our condo. I was in search of an image of the Kingsville railroad station. After quite a few strategic shuffles of key words, some five minute waits for photo downloads and some google magic, I discovered a postcard image of my quest.

It turns out that the station was not a railroad station at all, but was the headquarters or "general offices" of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad (St.L.B.&M.) in Kingsville, Texas. This was the only image that I could find on the internet and it definitely was the hand of Kansas City Architectural hero Louis S. Curtiss.

But what about the mystery urns? There were none in the colorized photo postcard. Hmmm...

More to come....