Charles Marshall writes about Frank Lloyd Wright in Dallas, saying the story of modern Dallas cannot be told without Wright. Before the Kalita Humphreys Theater was built, and long before the sleek geometries of Dallas’ skyline, the vision of Frank Lloyd Wright set the stage for it all.
When Wright first visited in the 1930s, in the midst of the Depression, Wright gained a client in a young retailer Stanley Marcus, for whom he designed a long, airy, horizontal home for the Dallas landscape and climate, accentuated by overhanging eaves, ribbons of windows, and terraces cantilevered in all directions. Though it remained unbuilt, the ribbon windows and open terraces would reappear in the Kalita Humphreys Theater.
Wright returned to post-war Dallas for a 1946 hotel project for an East Texas wildcatter. The Rogers Lacy Hotel was a soaring 47-story tower wrapped in translucent diamond-shaped glass panels rising above an immense interior court covering a city block. Although the Rogers Lacy project too remained unbuilt, its prescient vision of the future captured Dallas’ imagination.
Enter a tall, eccentric bachelor and oil engineer/geologist, John A. Gillin, who commissioned one of the largest, most expansive Wright houses ever built. Gillin was given freedom to tinker with elements of the design, and his details were drawn on the letterhead of his company, National Geotechnical (later acquired by Teledyne). Because of his height, ceilings of the Gillin house are much taller than other Wright houses.
Drawings commenced in 1950 and continued through 1957, and the house was completed in 1958 the year that construction started on the Kalita. Both projects were managed by Wright’s supervising apprentice, W. Kelly Oliver. Both projects were designed on an equilateral parallelogram grid, and both had angled wings extending from a central domed space, round at the Kalita and hexagonal with a gilt ceiling at the Gillin House. Built on a gentle slope along a creek, the sinuous house extended dramatically to the edges of its 7-acre site. To the west, this form was built almost entirely of native stone, and to the east, the walls were almost entirely glazed. Like the Kalita, the terraces surveyed a creek below and, in both projects, the angled bridge over the creek was never built. Read more here.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is already looking forward to their 2019 conference. The focus will be on Wright’s Influence in Postwar Southern California, with Wright’s work and recent attempts to preserve his legacy as well as the influence he had on other architects and popular culture during the post-WWII era. They are soliciting proposals for papers and panelist participation that range from recent attempts to conserve houses by Wright and related architects, to an exploration of the relationship of his work to that of his disciples, students, offspring, and second- and third-generation designers and architects that followed, including John Lautner, Lloyd Wright, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Whitney Smith, Buff and Hensman, and the early work of Gehry and Walsh, among others. The development of the California ranch house and the concept of indoor-outdoor living as well as the coffee shop and the so-called Googie style should also be considered. More information here.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation's Whirling Arrow blog features an article by Aris Georges, who writes about Frank Lloyd Wright establishing a foundation for design with nature, abstraction, and geometry as the source of graphic design. This has been the inspiration for the past, present, and future Taliesin community.
Georges says, "The most interesting and attractive kind of graphic design is unafraid. Such design rearranges the order of familiar things, experiments with conventions, steers clear of popular stereotypes, and has the power to shift paradigms. Frank Lloyd Wright was as much an experimental graphic designer as he was a groundbreaking architect. He recognized that image was a force of influence on society and culture well before that idea developed its present prominence. His vision for an organic, American, democratic architecture reached its historic significance because it etched unconventional images into our collective memory. Wright created images that endure undated. There is a geometric quality in his graphics that eludes “fashion or sham.” This quality renders his work as relevant in today’s design culture as it was when it was created, if not more." Read more.
Located in scenic Bernardsville, New Jersey, Frank Lloyd Wright's James B. Christie House house exemplifies the hallmarks of Wright’s famed Usonian design. The house, having been on the market for two years, has recently lowered its asking price in an effort to attract buyers to the iconic property. Originally asking $2.2 million in 2016, the property has lowered its asking price to $1.45 million. More here.
The Whirling Arrow informs us that the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Marden House, part of a 3.2 acre estate overlooking Virginia’s Potomac River, is for sale. "The Falls", an astounding estate in the Washington region of Virginia, has been listed for the equally astounding price of $62,950,000. Included in the 9-bedroom, 13-bathroom estate is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Marden House.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Luis Marden House was designed in 1953 for National Geographic writer and photographer, Luis Marden and his wife Ethel. See the photos here.
For the upcoming issue of the Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly magazine, focusing on Wright’s unbuilt projects designed for automobile use, The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has enlisted the talents of architect David Romero to create a series of renderings of the unbuilt Gordon Strong automobile objective, a tourist attraction designed by Wright in 1924 to sit atop Maryland’s Sugarloaf Mountain. Romero uses advanced techniques of 3D representation to take what no longer exists or what never existed, to turn Wright’s designs into striking images that are so highly detailed, they appear to be contemporary photography. Read more here.
Wright scholar and author Anthony Alfosin's newest book Wright and New York: The Making of America’s Architect will be coming out next May, but news reaches us that it is available for pre-order on Amazon.
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) took his first major trip to New York in 1909, fleeing a failed marriage and artistic stagnation. He returned a decade later, his personal life and architectural career again in crisis. Booming 1920s New York served as a refuge, but it also challenged him and resurrected his career. New York connected Wright with important clients and commissions that would harness his creative energy and define his role in the future of modern architecture, even as the stock market crash took its toll on his benefactors.
Wright denounced New York as an “unlivable prison” while reveling in the city’s culture. The city became an urban foil for Wright’s work in the desert and in the “organic architecture” he promoted as an alternative to the modernist modes of American Art Deco and the International Style. New York became a major protagonist at the end of Wright’s life as he spent his final years at the Plaza Hotel working on the Guggenheim Museum, the building that would cement his legacy. At once a biography and a glittering portrait of early twentieth-century Manhattan, this volume provides a crucial new understanding of Wright’s life, his career, and the conditions that enabled his success. Pre-order a copy here.
Architectural Digest reports that the wildfires in Southern California have wrought much devastation and sadly claimed dozens of lives. Along with the destruction of property, historic and cultural structures have also been wiped out by the raging flames. At this point, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Arch Oboler Complex has survived. But if the fires keep raging and spreading, who knows for how much longer. Read more here.