top of page

It took about 4 months to build Sturges, from September to December of 1939.

While Lautner supervised, the 1,200 square foot house (inclusive of the basement) was built by Paul W. Speer, alongside two of his craftsmen, Leonard Bunch and Paul Rockwell.

The construction details are unique:

--  All Redwood (even the furniture)

--  No windows-- only glass doors from each room

--  No 2 X 4s

--  No nails (only screws)

--  21 foot cantilever (66% of total width) 

--  Plans based on 6 foot, 6 inch modeules

--  Central pedestal of house is 30 feet tall to the main floor

Smarter than Engineers

While pushing the boundaries of architectural design, FLW often pushed the boundaries of structural engineering-- and sometimes much too far.

At Fallingwater, Wright famously ignored the engineer's recommendations, threatening to withdraw from the project if he didn't get his way.  While Wright won the argument, he lost the war. Fallingwater's cantilevers ultimately were failing and needed to be rebuilt.  And this after the general contractor doubled the amount of steel that Wright had specified.

Sturges would have fared a similar fate, but for persistent L.A. County building department officials, who mandated the addition of steel in several locations (observable on interior tours).  These changes were costly and enraged George Sturges, ironically an engineer himself.

The Sturges house has also suffered from a massively leaky roof-- a prominent feature in many Wright structures, but especially bad here. Work crews, including Wright's own in the early 1940's, have returned throughout the years to try to stem leaks in an ongoing battle.

Wright's contempt of engineers arises from his need to control his art. Wright critics point to the various failures of his structures as the basis for a case against FLW's greatness.  That assessment is a minority view and perhaps similar to critiques of Steve Jobs, who also stood at the intersection of art and science, with an extreme  bias for human scale esthetics.  By forcing simple, but powerful design logic on complex systems, both men took control of the technology of their day to make the functional more beautiful.

bottom of page