Talking with Mr. Tischler, part 3 of 3

Figures

1  Detail of Alsynite scrap in workshop
2  Ceiling, showing daylight coming in from recessed light detail
3  South side, viewed from back of yard
4  Close-up, showing recessed light detail and plastic panel
5  Detail of recessed light at ceiling
6  Wall color as selected by Tischler (left) and as proposed by Schindler (right)
7  View from dining area to yard

8  View from master bedroom to yard

Besides the storage you added on the outside, are there any other things that you’ve changed? I have read that you put the plywood in the ceiling, because the house was too hot.

Yes, that was done after he (Schindler) died. There was one thing that developed. Putting the Alsynite all the way up , in blue, the reason he chose blue is because he was interested in bringing the outside inside, and making everything blue is close. But we had a lot of trouble with the Alsynite. In the first place, the blue started to fade. This was before my wife even moved in, right away. The Alsynite people sent somebody out to spray it. But running all the way up top like that was too hot, too blue, too much. So then we tried several things. We thought we could plant some things like eucalyptus trees outside, where the sun was coming. We never did that anyway. It wouldn’t work. We would have had to wait 25 years.

But we did have trouble with the Alsynite. It wasn’t the material that was leaking as much as the way the thing (the house) is constructed. One thing is the face in the front , the facing boards (fascias), he wanted light to show. See that light there (pointing up to top of ceiling) from the outside? (Fig 2) He had an idea to put lights there that would show inside and also show outside. (Fig 5) We cut that out. You know the switch is there, we used the plug.

Anyway, he wanted that thing to be transparent so that you could see it. You see that light coming in? It bends back on the outside, a flat spot. Its plastic screen and its embedded with clear plastic, I tacked it underneath. (Fig 3 & 4) I had a lot of trouble with water leaking all over. Everybody thought it was a seam, because it would start to leak and run down. But it wasn’t the joint, it was from up top. But fortunately I was able to do most of the stuff myself. Did a lot of construction, that kind of helped keep it like it was originally. You get a contractor in, they usually will want to change everything, so that the house is pretty much something different.

He (Schindler) was interested in the aesthetics more than anything else, and in many cases the building suffered because of it.

Is there anything else you’ve changed in the house?

Some things were done while he was alive. One change we did while he was alive. On the walls, he used masonite and the aluminum spreads out on top. You couldn’t put up a picture or anything and it was black and the walls were meant to be black to absorb some of the light. (Fig 6)

So this (wall panel) was black and this thin piece was aluminum?

Yes. But the thing that happened there was, he had these things sprayed he put them on the floor, after they were sprayed. Somebody came to see the house at night and they walked on it. He tried to take the stuff off, but when its not a glossy material he couldn’t take it off. He painted the stuff over glossy. Looked awful. It would have been much more attractive if it hadn’t been glossy. But then, the stripes had to go. I painted the aluminum and the black too. You know, you can’t live in a house 60 years without making some interior changes. The floor was wood, now its carpeted wall-to-wall.

What are some of your favorite things about this house?

I don’t know if its any one particular thing. Its a house that we enjoy. You know, maybe it’s the views more than anything else. (Fig 7 & 8 ) See, each room has a door to the outside, in every room there are windows with a view, I would miss that.

Is there anything you still don’t like or wish you could have changed, besides the leaks?

I fixed it so we wouldn’t have leaks, that’s been a real problem. We were trying to keep this house like the original. So if we want to change this house, maybe paint or equipment inside. You can change that, but not the configuration, never change that.

What was Schindler like as a person? He was maybe sixty, and you were maybe thirty.

He was very pleasant, had a good sense of humor. Everything to him was a joke. I mean, if you wanted to do something in the house, it was still funny. He wasn’t somber about anything. He tried to, like I said, we never saw the Alsynite until it was finished. But it worked out the way I expected.

Did he have an accent?

He had an accent, but not bad.

I just always wondered as a person what he was like.

He was very warm, very friendly. I used to joke too, he was easy to get along with, pretty easy, as long as you did exactly the way you were told.

When you worked with him, he seemed healthy?

He was fine. He must have got the cancer right after he finished this house. In three years, he was gone, 1953.

Did you see him much after the house was done and you moved in? Did he come by your business?

He came by, any complaints we had, he came by. She (Beatrice Tischler) once called him. It was leaking over there, it comes down. So she called him to tell him that water was coming from the floor! He thought that was funny. But see, it dripped down and collected on the floor.

I think you’ve answered all my questions, unless there’s any other stories or things you want to tell me.

Well, let’s put it this way. To begin with we had the site. I did talk to several architects, including Neutra and Craig Elwood. And when they started to build the house, I told you, we were short of money but we ran into a lot of extra expense. Digging out for the carport underneath, he ran into shale. And digging it out and getting rid of all that stuff was extra.

Did you notice the entry steps, they’re not just ordinary steps. He built the top separate, and he added on the rest. Everything was done differently. But I think its really more obvious on the outside. The inside, its all windows. Its not too obvious, but the windows start high (on the north side) and they gradually get lower (as you move round the front and then to the south side).  That’s so you, the way your eye went, you feel comfortable.

And there are certain things that you wouldn’t realize why he did it. But I will say one thing, see that (dining area) window there, its (sill is) waist high, solid. (Fig 7, window to the right of the door) See my wife, under construction, she wanted some sliding doors to the outside. And he put a straight window there, no sliding door. And we complained about that because she wanted a sliding door. So he sort of gave in to that. I talked to him and the reason he didn’t do it he said you’d only see the legs of the table and chairs, you don’t want to see that. It’s the distance (view) that counts, not the close. But it pleased my wife, so he let it go all the way down like that one there.

But its high now.

I covered it, the glass still goes all the way down. I built that thing below. And nobody can tell that was added later. See, that’s what I mean, its not changing, the glass is still there. And the Alsynite, on the outside, it still goes all the way up.

Is this the original Alsynite?

Yes. I found that they could spray it. They had trouble putting the blue together with the spray. But if I used plastic, clear, it would protect the outside and didn’t change the color at all. So the blue is what was there before, but I sprayed it on the outside with clear. That’s what made it last.

That covers it for now. If its OK with you, I’d like to take some pictures.

Sure

 

4 thoughts on “Talking with Mr. Tischler, part 3 of 3”

  1. Really fantastic, Steve! Thanks so much to you and Mr. Tischler for all the great detail, both about the house and Schindler as a man. Excellent!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *