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Frank Lloyd Wright's Hanna House subject of talk at Stanford

STANFORD -- The Hanna House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most important works, is the subject of a free, public talk by Paul Turner, professor of art, at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29.

The talk will be held in Annenberg Auditorium in the Cummings Art Building.

The Hanna House has been closed since it was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. In his illustrated talk, Turner will discuss the history of the house, its significance in American architecture and the plans for restoration that have been completed by the Hanna House Board of Governors, established by Stanford President Gerhard Casper in 1993. The talk is titled "Stanford's Damaged Treasure: Frank Lloyd Wright's Hanna House."

The talk will be introduced by Casper and will be followed by a question and answer session with Turner and David Neuman, university architect. The program is sponsored by the Art Department, the Stanford Historical Society and the Board of Governors of the Hanna House.

Built in 1937 by Stanford Professor Paul R. Hanna and his wife, Jean, the Hanna House was one of Wright's most innovative designs, particularly in its hexagonal floor plan. In the 1920s and '30s, Wright was fascinated with the idea of replacing traditional, rectangular plans with new geometries based on triangles, hexagons or circles. The Hannas were the first of Wright's clients who were willing to build such a radically different house, and the resulting Hanna House inaugurated the period of Wright's great non-rectilinear buildings, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Other innovations in the Hanna House include a system of thick wood wall construction, and a provision for flexible planning that allowed owners of the house to adapt to the changing needs of a family over time. The Hannas, who were experts in childhood education, worked closely with Wright in the process of designing and building the house, and Wright considered their architect-client relationship to be unusually productive. He also considered the house to be one of his most successful works.

After its construction, stories about the Hanna House were published widely in architectural magazines, and an entire issue of House Beautiful was devoted to it in 1963. The American Institute of Architects has included the Hanna House on a list of the 17 buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright most worthy of preservation.

During their time in the Hanna House, the Hannas made it accessible to students, architects and other visitors who came from many parts of the world to see it. They also assembled an archive of documentation of the house's design, construction and use over the years. This archive, now in the Special Collections division of the Stanford University Libraries, is the source of many of the photographs, drawings and other visual material that will be included in Turner's talk.

The Hannas gave their house to Stanford University in 1975, to be used for university purposes and to be preserved as a demonstration of Wright's architectural principles. From that time until the Loma Prieta earthquake, the house was used as the official residence of Stanford's provost. In October 1989, the earthquake damaged several parts of the house, particularly the central fireplace structure and sections of the concrete pad on which the house sits. The building has been closed since then.

The Hanna House Board of Governors has been planning the restoration and future use of the house, in consultation with structural and architectural-preservation experts. The recently formulated plans for repairing the house will retain its form and materials, while increasing its structural strength. In accordance with the Hannas' original wishes, the house will be used largely for educational purposes. It will be more accessible than previously to students and the general public through tours and special visits, and will be used by the university for classes, seminars, conferences, receptions and other events.

A campaign now has begun to raise the funds needed to restore the house and ensure its continued preservation. The total amount required is about $2 million. While funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Nissan Corp. are expected to meet part of this need, private gifts totaling approximately $1 million will be required.




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