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Bentonville in Benton County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Democratic Architecture / Usonian Characteristics

 
 
Democratic Architecture / Usonian Characteristics Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 27, 2017
1. Democratic Architecture / Usonian Characteristics Marker
Inscription.

The word "Usonian" was derived from an abbreviation of "United States of North America." Frank Lloyd Wright embraced this term as the name for a distinct American and democratic style of residential architecture he developed during the Great Depression.

Compared to his highly customized homes these were simpler, lower-cost houses designed to be within the reach of the average middle-class American family, without sacrificing quality.

Approximately 120 Usonian homes were built. The first was the Jacobs House in 1936. Though these homes usually consisted of one story, Wright made modifications to accommodate the needs of each client and as a result, a few homes, including the Bachman-Wilson House, offer an upper story. Attics and basements were eliminated to encourage simpler, less cluttered living. Open floor plans connected the small kitchens—which Wright called "workspaces"—to the large living areas. Walls of large windows provide expansive views of the outdoors and flood the spaces with natural light.

Wright described the Usonian house as "a thing loving the ground with a new sense of space, light, and freedom."

Much of the furniture was built in, to save space and to utilize leftover construction materials. The homes have several features we now think of as "green," including radiant-heat flooring,

Usonian Characteristics Marker Detail image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 27, 2017
2. Usonian Characteristics Marker Detail
roofs with large overhangs to provide shade, and clerestory windows to let in abundant natural light. These features help regulate utilities costs, and make the homes more energy efficient.

A large overhang shelters the family car: a new feature Wright dubbed a "car port." Usonian homes present a rather blank facade to the street, but open up to views at the back, making the most of the suburban lots for which they were designed.

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What makes a home Usonian?

Dominant horizontal lines
Flat roots with large overhangs
Standardized natural materials

[On the Bachman-Wilson House diagrams]
Private, open side, usually facing south
Perforated wood clerestory windows
Mahogany
Concrete block
Grid system
Inside-outside walls[:] Walls that are the same inside and out—a sandwich of materials, or concrete block
French doors with windows opening to nature
Roofed overhangs integrated into the design provided space for the car
Board and batten
Central hearth
Built-in furniture
Modular furniture
Concrete slab floors with radiant heat

Integral decoration
Elimination of all that was unnecessary for the sake of efficiency
Built-in components

Democratic Architecture / Usonian Characteristics Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 27, 2017
3. Democratic Architecture / Usonian Characteristics Marker
Center marker, partially obscured
Designed to coordinate and conserve space, while also using materials leftover from construction of the home
Warm wood tones, "Cherokee red," and soft golds predominate
[Some yellow-greens and blues were introduced in later years]
 
Erected by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
 
Location. 36° 22.861′ N, 94° 12.224′ W. Marker is in Bentonville, Arkansas, in Benton County. Touch for map. Marker is at the Welcome Pavilion entryway to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Bachman-Wilson House, on the Crystal Bridges American Museum of Art grounds. Marker is at or near this postal address: 600 Museum Way, Bentonville AR 72712, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Frank Lloyd Wright / Architectural Value (here, next to this marker); Integrating With Nature / The Journey (here, next to this marker); Benton County First Court House (approx. 0.6 miles away); Confederate Memorial (approx. 0.6 miles away); Walton's 5 &10 (approx. 0.7 miles away); Terry Block (approx. 0.7 miles away); Benton County Hardware (approx. 0.7 miles away); Benton County National Bank (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bentonville.
 
Also see . . .
1. Bachman-Wilson House at Crystal Bridges
Bachman-Wilson House Welcome Pavilion image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 27, 2017
4. Bachman-Wilson House Welcome Pavilion
. (Submitted on October 7, 2017, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Crystal Bridges Acquires Frank Lloyd Wright House. (Submitted on October 7, 2017, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. About Frank Lloyd Wright. (Submitted on October 7, 2017, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. ArchitectureEnvironmentMan-Made Features
 
Bachman-Wilson House view from near Welcome Pavilion image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 27, 2017
5. Bachman-Wilson House view from near Welcome Pavilion
Bachman-Wilson House Entrance image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 27, 2017
6. Bachman-Wilson House Entrance
Along the unadorned "street-side" elevation
Bachman-Wilson House Elevation Opening to Nature image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 27, 2017
7. Bachman-Wilson House Elevation Opening to Nature
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 7, 2017. This page originally submitted on October 7, 2017, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 84 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on October 7, 2017, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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