Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Frank Lloyd Wright

Some names simply intrigue me. Among them Frank Lloyd Wright. What I know about him stems from the fascinating novel Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. The story is based on the clandestine love affair between Mamah Borthwick Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright that began in 1903, when Mamah and her husband Edwin commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. The New York Times called the novel "truly artful fiction".
Wright was born in 1867 and died in 1959, "placing him squarely on the stage of the incredibly dynamic century bracketed by the Civil War and the space age, a century of tremendous technological advances and momentous political and social change", writes Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, who, in the 1950s, was a student of Wright, in the introduction.

Wright grew up and spent most of his life in rural Wisconsin. "He was brought up on the writings and teachings of the 19th-century transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau, and he would respect the spiritual and romantic values they inspired even as he embraced the scientific advances of the 20th century."

Wright wanted the architect to have complete charge of the architectural design, and "for him this meant interior furnishings as well as exterior landscape." He was however not often given this kind of freedom ...
When Wright died in 1959, The New York Times wrote: "His own philosophy of architecture was enunciated in low terrain-conforming homes that became known as "prairie architecture"; in functional office buildings of modest height utilizing such materials as concrete slabs, glass bricks and tubing; in such monumental structures as the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo that withstood the great earthquake of 1923."

Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer's compilation covers the whole spectrum of Wright's work and also includes projects that were never realised. Two of my favourite constructions are the Rose Pauson House placed on the crest of a small desert hill near Phoenix, Arizona, built in 1938 and destroyed by fire in 1943, and the futuristic Marin County Civic Center from 1957, in San Rafael, California. Spending time with the pictures of these two buildings will help you understand how very varied Wright's organic architecture did find its expression. 

Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer / Peter Goessel
Frank Lloyd Wright
English, German, French
Taschen, Cologne 2015

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