Palmer Woods Historical Archives

2760 West Seven Mile Road

Original Owner: Dorothy S. Turkel
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Style: Usonian Automatic
Built: 1955

Throughout his career, the internationally acclaimed architect Frank Lloyd Wright was best known and most influential in his design of private residences. In 1956, Dorothy S. Turkel commissioned the “Usonian Automatic” to be a low-cost building system.

Wright developed the “Usonian” model using precast concrete block as the basic building element. The principles important for the Usonian house were a high degrees of prefabrication of materials off-site in order to keep on-site labor down; a simplified plan, both to reflect simplified living styles and to keep costs down as well; and the avoidance of high-cost finishing work, such as plastering and painting. The structural system of the Usonian Automatic involved the use of pre-cast concrete blocks in various conformations, all of which had chamber edges. When the blocks were assembled, steel reinforcing rod was laid in the horizontal and vertical cavities created where the blocks joined. The cavities were the filled with cement, joining block, steel rod, and poured cement into single mass.

The Turkel House is sighted in the north-west corner of the irregularly shaped lot with little or no yard to the north and west. Wright’s Usonian houses often are “L” shaped in plan, as this one is, and the open side of the “L” thus faces the large open area southeast of the house. At the southern end, a large two-story living room terminates the longer arm of the “L”. the house is natural gray color of the concrete used to cast the modular elements; much of the detail is created through the repetition of forms natural to the use of cast elements. For example, the large windows of the tall living room are made up of multiple hollow squares assembled and then glazed. The flat roof combined with the long “L”-shaped plan, combined with overhanging cornice elements, and other design features, create and emphatically horizontal composition.


Frank Lloyd Wright

One of the most acclaimed architects of the 20th Century, Wright was the pioneer of what came to be called the Prairie School movement of architecture and also developed the concept of the Usonian home.  Wright designed more than 1,000 structures over a creative period of 70 years, also designing original and innovative offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, museums, and other […]
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Dorothy G. Turkel House