Frank Lloyd Wright House; Relocated and Reacquainted With Radiant

Wright had built the house on a grid system, which crews had to duplicate for the concrete pour.

Workers first installed Watts RadiantPEX+ tubing in alternating sections, with terminations in the basement below, leaving other sections untouched so that they could work in the areas without causing damage.

“Another tricky piece to the puzzle was the patio in front, and to the side of the Bachman Wilson House,” said Faber. “Because of year-round visitors from the museum, Crystal Bridges needed to ensure a safe and dry environment in the occasion of snow.”

Snowmelt, Too

“The patio was heated with radiant snowmelt. Wright designed the home so that the entire structure — patio and all — would have one big concrete slab foundation,” said Cary Pestel, owner of Tulsa, OK-based Boone & Boone Sales, the manufacturers representative firm for the job.

To accommodate those plans, the 1,400 s.f. patio was included in the sections to be poured. The interior sections of radiant are served by ½-inch Watts RadiantPEX+ that will have a steady 126°F flow of water going through it. The patio is warmed with 5/8-inch RadiantPEX+ with a 50-percent glycol/water mix running at a constant 136°F.

“The sectioned radiant installation and concrete pour also ensured that if there was ever damage to one section of the floor throughout the whole rebuilding process, only that section would need to be repaired, instead of having to jackhammer the whole thing and start over again,” explained Pestel.

‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ Home Decor

The Bachman Wilson House was designed with a second story — which is rare for a Wright home. Adding to the oddity are the home’s original, built-in mahogany beds, which appear to grow out of the mahogany flooring. Conventional forced air heating and cooling is delivered to the two bedrooms and a bathroom up there. The air moves through hidden vents — some visible only by close inspection under abandoned, but still standing radiators (vestiges of the original heating system), or tucked within the bedframes.

A basement mechanical room is now the main area of operations for all things mechanical and hydronic. A modulating 104 to 285 MBH Viessmann Vitodens boiler will provide for all radiant heating and snowmelt.

To conserve space and on-site mechanical fabrication time, Pestel specified the installation of three Watts Radiant Hydronex panels. The preassembled, pre-engineered hydronic control panels include a PM-4-PO primary panel, a DD-2-2 direct panel for distribution to the snow-melted surfaces, and a D-Mix, DM-2-2 for the inside floors.

“We’ll use the tekmar 664 snow-melt control with their outdoor slab sensor to control the snow-melt,” said Pestel. “Also, we’ll use the Tek519 thermostats for the inside zones. These will be mounted in the basement so they won’t be seen on the walls upstairs. They weren’t available in Frank Lloyd Wright’s times, so we are hiding them.

“Additionally, we’ll use in-slab sensors for the concrete floors, with wiring that’s run into sleeves that were installed under the slab prior to pouring the floors,” he said.

Humidity Challenges

Arkansas summers can reach highs in excess of 100°F, with sweltering humidity. Winter temperatures can dip into the negatives, all while holding that same humidity level. To reduce the possibility of sweating, thin vents in the concrete floor below the authentic single-pane glass walls and windows will constantly bathe the windows in dry air.

“Because this area is so humid, we also installed a whole-house dehumidifier system in the basement,” said Jeff Handley, owner of Seligman, MO-based Handley Heating. “An open plenum return pulls air from several different locations in the house to the basement, where it is dehumidified before being introduced back into the HVAC system.”

Masterpiece Restored

“For everyone involved in the process of rebuilding the Bachman Wilson House, it was a job unlike any before it,” said Eccleston. “Disassembly, relocation and reconstruction of a historical masterpiece — saving it from what otherwise would have been its certain demise — was an amazing feat.”

Beginning the summer of 2015, the Bachman Wilson House will be open to Frank Lloyd Wright devotees and museumgoers. Crystal Bridges Museum draws more than 500,000 visitors a year. People from all over the country are already scheduling trips to Bentonville just to see the house.

Somewhere, up above, the master architect is smiling.

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Posted by on Apr 1st, 2017 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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