Always searching for more projects, Co-Founder Will Heaton was contacted by the owners of a uniquely designed Sammamish home. After walking through the home, Will noticed it was in poor condition, but knew it would make a great remodel project. Approximately three weeks in, the home was in the early phases of demolition. Amidst the mess, Will found a collection of Frank Lloyd Wright books and we noticed striking similarities to the Brandes House (located just around the corner from the Taylor House) by Frank Lloyd Wright. We began researching and discovered the home was actually designed by Milton Stricker. Soon after we found the original architectural plans for the property.
We call it the “Taylor House” after its original owners James and Barbra Taylor, who commissioned Milton Stricker (an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright) to design the home. They also worked with Ray Brandes to build the home, the original owner and builder of the Brandes House.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed over 1,000 structures; all following his organic architecture philosophy of harmonizing humanity and its environment. Wright was recognized as “the greatest American architect of all time” by the American Institute of Architects in 1991.
Due to the home’s historical significance, the original design was honored during the remodel. Any new finishes added were period specific to stay true to the original design.
During his last semester studying architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, Milton Stricker drove uninvited to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, where he was initially turned away. Down to his last nickel, Stricker begged Wright to accept him as an apprentice for the Frank Lloyd Wright Fellowship. After learning that Stricker had been raised by his impoverished grandparents, after being abandoned by his parents during the Depression- and had spent two years washing dishes, Wright accepted him tuition free.
Stricker apprenticed under Wright for one year, and became the first of Wright’s apprentices to be licensed to practice in Washington. In 1962, Stricker opened his own office where he continued Wright’s style of organic architecture. This unique style can be seen in his “organic” V and Y-shaped plans in his 130+ projects. Near the end of his career, Stricker wrote Design Through Abstraction: The Wright Source to Art and Architecture, which provided insight into the artistic abstraction process.
“I think Wright became the father he never had,” Milton Stricker’s son, Peter, was quoted saying in the Seattle P.I, regarding Stricker and Wright’s relationship.
After the Great Depression, everyday needs of Americans had to change since they could no longer afford their previous lifestyles. To reflect the more casual direction that home life was taking, Frank Lloyd Wright wanted to create affordable housing for middle-class families. From this, Wright’s signature look of Usonian design/organic architecture was born, named after USONA (United States of North America), the potential name for the U.S. in the early 1900s.
Each Usonian home that Wright designed was tailor-made for the client, while maintaining functionality and practicality. Wright’s designs utilized local materials and were inspired by each home’s surroundings, as he wanted it to appear like the house was coming “out of the ground and into the light.” Usonian design is also referred to as organic architecture because nature is included in every aspect of the home.
Due to the cultural shift at this time, Wright wanted his homes to make a statement. Since Usonian homes were designed to look as if they came out of the ground, he implied that the house had roots; reflecting how he wanted everyone to appreciate where they came from and embrace their past in order to move forward. Wright also wanted his homes to symbolize light, redefine space, and represent the freedom that he felt Americans deserved. In order to create a deep connection between the home and the client, Wright encouraged his clients to be heavily involved in the design process.
Commonly, Usonian designs use horizontal lines to connect the home to the land, flat roofs with overhangs, and provide access to the outdoors from every room. Wright included a radiant heating system by running pipes full of hot steam through the house’s foundation to provide heating from the ground up. Usonian homes were designed simply, requiring no wall art (other than anything built-in), and resembling a tadpole where the “body” was the living room area and kitchen. Since Usonian design was created to accommodate the new casual lifestyle of Americans, these homes didn’t include attics, basements, formal dining rooms, or garages; providing carports instead.
As Usonian homes were custom designed for each client, many of the original owner’s families still occupy their homes today. Since Wright’s homes are such a rarity, they have sold for millions of dollars when they go on the market; drastically contrasting with Wright’s original intent.