Wright Gallery
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Wright Gallery

A thousand visitors recently toured La Miniatura — the first textile block house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright — during its first public showing since 1992. The historic house in Pasadena was commissioned by rare-book dealer Alice Millard and completed in 1923. The 2,400-square-foot house, which has three bedrooms and three baths, is undergoing extensive renovation. This virtual tour begins with a front view of the four-level residence. The Friends of the Gamble House sponsored the recent event. (Tim Street-Porter)
Wright’s radical idea was to use concrete blocks for low-cost production. “The cheapest (and ugliest) thing in the building world,” he wrote in his autobiography. “Why not see what could be done with that gutter-rat?” The blocks were made on site from the sand and gravel found on the property at the base of a steep-sided arroyo. (Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times)
The blocks were assembled in pairs, with a pattern on one side and smooth on the other side. Each block has a symmetrical pattern of a cross with a small square in each quadrant. La Miniatura was assembled using conventional mortar, unlike Wright’s three later concrete block houses — Ennis-Brown, Storer and Freeman — which each used rebar to reinforce the blocks. (Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times)
Groups of 10 toured La Miniatura. Visitors gather in the light filled master bedroom, studying up close the details of the Frank Lloyd Wright design. The privately owned house is currently unoccupied. (Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times)
Some blocks incorporate glass into the design to allow light to filter inside. Visitor Erika Esau takes a closer look at the concrete blocks in the living room. (Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times)
Wright used modular construction for La Miniatura, stacking four levels. An entry at the back of house on the second floor leads into the spacious, high-ceiling living room. (Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times)
The concrete blocks with open designs are strategically placed to allow sunlit patterns. During Wright’s textile-block period, he referred himself as the “the weaver,” according to Michael J. Murray, past president of Friends of the Gamble House. “He wove concrete blocks and steel rods into some of the most idiosyncratic creations of his career, bringing magic to the L.A. landscape. (Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times)
A bedroom with polished floors and open window. (Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times)