The Oscar B. Balch House is a home located in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois, United States. The Prairie style Balch House was designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1911. The Balch house is listed as a contributing property to a U.S. federally Registered Historic District.
The Balch House is one of Wright’s first flat-roofed houses and its proportions are taller compared with later flat-roofed homes he designed. Wright brought new drama to his Prairie style with the addition of the flat roof. The expansive roof further refined the simplicity of Wright’s Prairie style house. The house has broad, overhanging eaves, common to Prairie houses and in the case of the Balch House they further emphasize the Prairie theme. The exterior is sheathed in stucco which provides a sculpting effect on the exterior. The original color of the stucco on the exterior is unknown but photographs show that the house has undergone color changes.
The design of the house is symbolic in its heightened terrace walls, the security walls and its hidden and obscured entryway. The house clearly shows the signs of someone who feels trapped or “under siege.” The events of Wright’s personal life may be reflected in the design of the Balch House. Regardless, the house has a remarkable linear proportion and Wright managed to raise the eyeline with the rows of windows on the home’s second floor. The home is part of a series of geometric, cubic homes with overhanging, flat roofs designed by Wright in the early 20th century. The first was the Laura Gale House in Oak Park, Illinois, followed by the Oscar B. Balch House, also in Oak Park, Coonley Kindergarten, the Bogh House and then the Bach House.
The first floor plan is similar to the Edwin H. Cheney House; both have a three part first floor layout that includes a library, a dining room and a living room. The interior spaces are separated by “low decks set at the window heads.” In the living room the house is anchored by a Roman brick fireplace at its center and there are libraries on either side of two small setback pavilions. These features help the building’s interior flow and symmetry. Copious use of glass brings natural light into the interior.
Contributed by ArchiTeam
Photo © Teemu008 | CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr
Photo © Jonathan Rieke | CC BY-NC 2.0, via Flickr
Photo © Oak Park Cycle Club | CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr
Photo © IvoShandor | CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Photo © -jamesn- | CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr
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