Wingspread Pool Rebuild is Finished

Words and photographs (c) Mark Hertzberg 2018

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The newly-rebuilt swimming pool at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wingspread (1937) is filled with water from a nearby fire hydrant Wednesday May 30, 2018. The pool, which holds an estimated 114,028 gallons of water, was an original water feature of the house. It had deteriorated, and was rebuilt because of its architectural significance to the house. It will remain as an architectural water feature, and will not be used for swimming. It measures 26’ wide and 96’ 4” at its longest dimension, and slopes to a depth of 12′. The original diving board will remain in storage because the ornate stand has been lost and there are no drawings from which to replicate it. The only known record of it is this undated low resolution photo, provided courtesy of The Johnson Foundation, and copyright by them:

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The pool deck fireplace regains visual prominence as it is no longer obscured by vines:

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New mechanical systems have been installed nearby, underground:

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Wright designed Wingspread as a home for H.F. Johnson Jr. and his family in 1937, the year after Wright designed the landmark SC Johnson Administration Building in Racine, Wisconsin. Wingspread, situated in the nearby village of Wind Point, was given by the family to the newly-created Johnson Foundation in 1959. It is now a conference center. National Public Radio, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the International Court of Justice are among the notable entities that evolved from Wingspread conferences. One of the founding meetings of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy was held there, as well.

9 thoughts on “Wingspread Pool Rebuild is Finished

  1. All that work on the pool, the plumbing as well as the adjacent fireplace and it won’t be used as intended? This is one kind of restoration I don’t fully understand. Why not use as a plunge? Can it be that expensive to operate?

    • Is the glass half full or half empty? This architectural feature of the house has been rebuilt, at great cost. I can only begin to imagine the insurance and liability considerations involved in letting people swim in it again in today’s litigious society. In addition, there would be additional considerations from the health department in terms of chlorination, filtration, etc.

      • The liability exposure will still exist unless there is fence all around the pool to prevent access. How would FLW have responded to that need? As to keeping the pool clean, chlorination is being replaced or supplanted by ozone generation equipment. More user friendly.

        I understand the decision is basically dollars and cents, but putting all that effort into restoring something that will never be used as intended just doesn’t sit right. Or is it Wright?

      • I have posted the photos and won’t get in the middle of questions like this. None of us know how Wright would have responded although it is likely he would be happier with this than with the tarp that has covered the pool for some years.

  2. Are there no photos of the original diving board to work from? I understand there are no plans, but it would be fascinating to see the the diving board in place.

  3. The design intent of the new pool was to replicate the design originally created by Frank Lloyd Wright, but to use todays engineering standards, building practices, and materials with the filtration and saintization equipment meeting the current codes and standards. The design of the pool would have needed to be drastically changed in order to be able for the pool to permitted for public use. The design would have needed to change to the point that the pool would not have even been recognizable as Frank Lloyd Wright’s original design.

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