As i mentioned in my Architecture post on Mies van der Rohe we sometimes come across teachers in school that really spur a passion that can last a life time. Well mine is design, and Mr Fraser if you are reading, you are still colouring my creative ideas and design thoughts.
About lesson five, 2005 - Frank Lloyd Wright; nature meet Utopia.
For those of you who have clicked on this link, i guarantee that you know who im writing about here. But here's a recap care of Wiki and the world wide web -
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1959) was an American architect, interior designer, writer and lecturer. His work included office buildings, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, museums, interior fit-outs, stained glass and furniture. He also was married three times, had seven children and was accused of running away to Europe and abandoning his children for a lover...afterall, i quote him "Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change."
The premise of Wright's design, particularly as he matured, based itself around creating structures that encompassed harmony and humanity within their environments. You'll see in many of his works the emphasis of horizontals over retreated verticals, echoing the lay of surrounding parklands and urban plots. He was also extremely interested in urban planning, beginning his thinking on suburban design and communities in 1900, with a proposed subdivision layout for Charles E. Roberts called the "Quadruple Block Plan", which was never realised.
In 1913, he entered a City Club of Chicago Land Development competition for the development of a suburban quarter section. His entry built on his Quadruple Block Plan, placing upscale homes in the most desirable areas of a development, with 'blue collar' homes and apartments separated by parks and common spaces. The design also included all the amenities of a small city such as schools, museums and markets, and effectively decentralised urban reliance on city centres.
These decentralising town planning projects led to a 'Utopian' vision that would span Wright's life time. Broadacre City, a sprawling 3.7m2 wooden model city built between 1934 and 1935 was named by Wright as “a new pattern for living in America” and first showed at the Rockefeller Center. It shows his vision for a Utopian city where each person was gifted their own acre of land linked to amenities with sound infrastructure and arterial highways. In the less crowded city, apartment dwelling was the minority and everyone had their own car, or flying machine (as his sketches depicted). Hence the meaning of the latin word, Utopia, being ideal societies, with near perfect qualities, portrayed only in fiction!
Wright obsessed over the plan for Broadacre City until his death in 1959, incorporating many of his unbuilt designs into its scheme.
Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as "the greatest American architect of all time". Here are some of my favourite FLW builds:
Fallingwater, completed 1939
This house speaks volumes about Wright's organic design intents as it moulds seamlessly into its environment, and is undoubtedly one of Wright's most famous private residences. The holiday house was built for department store magnates, Mr. and Mrs. Kaufmann, at Mill Run, Pennsylvania in the Bear Run Nature Reserve above a waterfall.
Influenced heavily by Japanese architecture, Fallingwater places its occupants close to its natural surroundings, with a stream and waterfall running under part of the building. Constructed over a 30-foot waterfall, the house appears as though it is without foundations. This floating house internally is remarkably small, despite its appearance of volume from the outside. It holds three bedrooms, a lounge and dining area, along with a series of cantilevered balconies and terraces. The interiors feature Wright's iconic hearth-of-the-home-fireplace, built in furniture, open plan living spaces and raw exposed timber and stone materials.
Emphasising harmony is in the way Wright isolates exterior materials in particular ways. In Fallingwater, he used limestone for all the verticals and steel reinforced concrete for the horizontals. A set of stairs fall away from the living area on level one, straight into the stream beneath the house.
Robie House, completed 1908
The Robie House was built for Frederick Robie, and was the first of Wright's Prairie style. The boldness of the style was emphasised by the long and horizontal nature of two rectangles that appear to slide past one another.
Some of Wright's most iconic design elements are clearly emphasised in this house - an expansive cantilevered roof, stain glass windows, and strong horizontal lines further highlighted with the use of a elongated red brick exterior facade. While inside he centres open plan living spaces around a central fireplace. Originally, there was the intention to build in Wright-designed furniture, however the owner's tenure in this home was short-lived. As a result of financial problems incurred by both the death of his father and the deterioration of his marriage, Robie was forced to sell the house after fourteen months.
In Wright's words the Robie House is a “cornerstone in American Architecture”.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, completed 1959
The Guggenheim Mueseum pushed the boundaries of traditional museum architecture, which relied on simple, squared off spaces that let its walls of art stand out. The build occupied Wright for 16 years and is maybe his most famous buildings.
The Guggenheim rises up from its Fifth Avenue position and is far from the typical straight halls of a museum or art gallery. Instead, Wright took a bold and active role in shaping the experience of looking at art by creating a 'white ribbon' wall that curls upward, through the Guggenheim, forming a cylinder that grows wider as it spirals up towards a geometric inspired glass ceiling.
The white ribbon levels boldly layer on top of each other, bringing out the strong asthetic of horizontals that are never missing from his designs, however in this piece they have a feeling of movement, carrying the viewer upwards, or downwards, through the non-objective, colourful and geometric Guggenheim art collection.
And there is even a colourful, fine dining restaurant inside :)
Rosenbaum House, completed 1940
The Rosenbaum House was built for Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum in Florence, Alabama as a single storey family home. The house is an example of Wright's Usonian house concept. 'Usonian' is a term referring to approximately sixty family homes designed by Wright in the 1930's and 1940's. The homes were typically small and single-story. They were often L-shaped to fit around a garden terrace on unusual and inexpensive sites. Constructed with native materials, lots of glass, flat roofs and large cantilevered overhangs for natural heating, cooling and lighting. The word 'carport' was coined by Wright during this period to describe an overhang for sheltering a parked vehicle.
The Rosenbaum house is in an L-shape and made from natural materials, predominately cypress wood, brick and glass, and features low, multi-level steel cantilevered roofs. The layered, horizontal roofs mimic the lie of the surrounding two acre block closely, fitting it cosily into its environment. Most of the rooms have their own door to the outside, and in typical Wright style, the house is centred around the living area, a large stone hearth and an adjacent spacious study.
“A professional is one who does his best work when he feels the least like working."