Usonian One

A Concept
2005 recreation of
1964 Phoenix House layout
by Matt Taylor
Taylor Architecture with SFIA Architects-Master Builders is in the process of creating its first design aimed at creating the 21st Century manifestation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unsonian House concept.
Drawings were scheduled to be completed mid-September of 2004 however other work in the office prevented this. A set of plans, when completed, will be offered to owner-builders and builders with various support services related to local adoption and ongoing refinement of the design and its building methods.

Recent developments - both negative and positive - gives credence to the idea that the timing is right to launch an effort to reinvent the simple affordable American home on a philosophy-based, self-aware lifestyle instead of blatant consumerism. Over a hundred people a week connect to my Post Usonian Project web page. The vast majority of these are new to my web site and are not drawn to it from exiting relationships or projects under way. This web page is but one of many on the WWW about the Usonian House. This indicates a tremendous interest in recapturing what the approximately 100 Usonians stood for and accomplished in the 30s, 40s and early 50s.


The working title of the first design will be Usonian One - we refer to the overall effort as the postUsonian Project. These will not be the go-to-market brand as I believe the name Usonian should forever be associated with the original houses designed by Wright. However, these names adequately capture the spirit of the enterprise and serve as a working title. This web page outlines a Business Model and Program Statement of the project. It identifies the scale, scope and economics/organizational requirements of the venture. It may take a village to raise a child; it certainly will take a ValueWeb [link] to recreate the Usonian.

What is different about “now?” The recession and post dot-com market-mania [link] pause, another war fought over resources [link] in the guise of freedom, and now (as of early 2004), an economic “recovery” very different than people expected may be creating a climate of reflection and the possibility that some may be looking for a values-oriented, simple, sustainable life-style within the reach of their own effort and finances. In addition, over 2005, the argument about global warming and its likely impacts has radically altered - it is now accepted with a few notable holdouts. The technical aspects of such efforts have been greatly advanced over the last 5 years; so now, energy and materials solutions are abundant. The development of network organizational theory and practice along with a far more practical Internet tool-kit, creates a means of directly reaching and supporting the “few” who are willing to be the early adaptors in a totally new market creation. In short, all the elements exist for a distributed capacity capable of producing an endless variety of works, based on a simple grammar, anywhere in North America and, ultimately, beyond.
Basic Business Model
The basic Business Model is that SFIA Architects-Master Builders, in conjunction with MG Taylor, Taylor Architecture and AI, will offer a postUsonian Design that is to be created with A ValueWeb of owner/users, producers and investor/financiers. MG Taylor will act as systems integrator [link] and employ its proprietary process methods; SFIA - MB will produce the plans, specifications and Design/Build Manual, and, offer support design and consulting services; AI will build and ship (install if required) the interior cabinetry and trim, as well as, certain structural components. As the ValueWeb grows, other architects, builders, shops will be included to make a robust, distributed production system [link]. Designers and architects will be encouraged to offer fee-based services and contribute designs that can be sold for which they will receive royalties. Individual turn-key projects and developments will be taken on where there is sufficient critical mass and when the Investor Network members of the ValueWeb are willing to finance.
The market offering will be in four LEVELS of participation:

Level I:

This level is an idea, information and resource exchange network. It will employ web sites, blogs, wiki and social networking software to facilitate a ValueWeb.

This will be a Membership Fee system with levels of access determined by protocol, user participation and contribution.

It will be based on an “open source” model within a selected community.


Will offer plans, specifications and DBU Manual.

The plans and specifications will constitue a basic Design Development Set and grant a license to build one house to individuals, designers, architects or builder/developers.

This is anticipated to be in the one to two thousand dollar range. The user will have to provide or secure local knowledge in regards, permitting, site engineering and so on. Study Plans without License will be in the $150 range.

The Design/Build Manual will be a detailed “how-to” manual which also includes fabracation diagrams, quantities, cutting tables, cost data and scheduling/sequencing flow charts. This offering will also provide web access to the latest information gathered from projects under way. The cost of this is expected to be in the 4 to $5,000 range.


Components and Services will be provided by SFIA-Master Builders and AI along with other certified providers (fabracators, builders, architects, etc).

These will range from interior components and trim, to structural members and skin panels to consulting, design and engineering services by locally licensed professionals.


Turn-Key Projects. Clients and buyers will be able to purchase finished houses on landscaped lots or commission a house to be build on a property of their own.

These works will be produced by teams of Renascence Certified Practitioners. All projects will be surveyed and registered into the log of Renascence Homes.

There will be a variety of leasing and ownership options offered including the Renascence Home Ownership Plan which will offer reduced cost of ownership with a conditional profit sharing plan if sold.

MG Taylor, Taylor Architecture, SFIA-Master Builders and AI will make up the core capability necessary to launch the project. In time, it is expected that a true ValueWeb [link] will emerge that will become both an enterprise and a Market. There will be protocols in place from the beginning for this to happen. How is happens is dependent of who participates, when they do and what they bring to the the venture. The organization will not be predetermined which is always a mistake - it will emerge like the rest: with the ValueWeb, the products and services it offers and the scope it achieves. If you look on the bottom of this page, you will see that the SolutionBox [link] for this statements is: Insight (creative process), Policy (vantage points), Program (design formation). While the design is firm at this iteration, it is a long way from final. This can only be done based on experience.
It is the MISSION which remains invariant: to provide beautiful, affordable, sustainable housing to every working person who chooses an organic life style and who is willing to invest in its making. To do this by means of a balanced organizational structure that equally respects the integrity of all involved and creates an environment that facilitates sustained creativity for art-making and mutual wealth-building.
Program Statement
If the original Usonian Houses are to be the standard by which the postUsonian Project is to be created, the place to start is with identifying the key principles and characteristics of the Usonians that will form the base line criteria of the project. These, then have to be restated in terms of contemporary challenges, opportunities and social context.
link for full page view
In April, 2006, Taylor Architecture with SFIA Architects-Master Builders started design of a “postUsonian” guest house (800 sq; ft.) and studio (400 sq. ft.) for Stan Leopard to be built in 2007 [link: leopard residence additions]. The shell of these two buildings will be field built and will reflect Bay Area Style traditions. The interiors will be shop built by AI and will be the first prototype of a new postUsonian grammar. This system will be designed to be useful both with in structural shells design by us and for remodeling and insertion into existing housing stock. There is a vast number of post WWII housing which can be adapted to a modern, organic life-style without the necessity of a complete teardown and rebuild which is capital extensive and ecologically expensive. This interior system will be the same as required by the Snowflake Project [link: nashville snowflake compound].
Return To INDEX
Return To postUsonian Index
Return To Post Usonian Project
postUsonian Prototypes
Matt Taylor

September 30, 2002


SolutionBox voice of this document:


posted September 30, 2002

revised April 17, 2006
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(note: this document is about 45% finished)

Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 Matt Taylor

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