|Frank Lloyd Wright preferred the long, low proportions|
of Roman brick, as famously found in his Robie House
in Chicago (1909).
Later, the Romans kept their brickworks running overtime to supply materials for their burgeoning empire. They preferred an unusually long, flat brick which, two thousand years later, Frank Lloyd Wright decided was the cat’s meow for his Prairie houses. We still refer to that shape as Roman brick.
|Victorian era polychrome brickwork in England.|
Brick is still available in a huge range of colors, and quite a few shapes as well. It’s also more durable than ever—properly fired, brick will actually outlast many kinds of stone, because its surface is harder and less porous.
That’s all dandy. But in many parts of the country—like mine—there's that nasty earthquake thing, right? Not necessarily. Brick is too fine a material to be ruled out by seismic worries alone. In residential design, the trick is to avoid using it for structural walls, which require costly reinforcement, and to use it as a nonstructural veneer instead.
|Veneer brick: some looks real, some not so real. This project|
looks pretty promising.
|Four basic kinds of brick bond.|
|Flemish bond utilizing two colors of|
brick (John W. Bush House,
Buffalo, New York.
Architects: Lansing & Beierl, 1903)
A wall of stretchers staggered in the normal fashion is called “running bond”. When there’s a row of headers in every sixth course, it’s called “common bond”. Alternating courses of headers and stretchers are called “English bond”. Staggered courses of alternating headers and stretchers are called Flemish bond, and when used in combination with two or more colors, can produce various lovely patterns.
The strangest of all bonds is called “stack bond”, and predictably, it’s a Moderrnist invention: it has all the bricks stacked one above the other rather than staggered, so the wall has an ultra-rational gridded look, but much less strength than running bond. Even in 3000 BC, bricklayers knew better than that.