While official confirmation of the destruction has yet to come, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy has posted word that Wright’s Arch Oboler complex in Malibu appears to have been lost to the devastating fires that raged through California recently. While loss of life is much more important than loss of structures, it is still terrible to see historic properties destroyed. Perhaps the building can be rebuilt if the masonry is at least intact. Slide the divider left and right to view the alleged destruction of the Oboler Complex here.
Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fla. continues its expansion. On Friday, the College celebrated the groundbreaking of the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Computer Sciences Center. The center will be a "distinctive" building, designed by architect and Frank Lloyd Wright scholar Jeffrey Baker. He has served as the lead architect for restorations of the college’s historic Frank Lloyd Wright structures. We'll let readers make up their own minds about how well this building will fit in to the rest of FSC's campus. Read more.
Last year, the city of Los Angeles approved a bumper crop of historic districts — five neighborhoods packed with distinctive architecture. Called Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, the districts now number 35 and harbor 21,000 properties safeguarded from undue alteration. The recent approvals represent “the city’s effort to address overdevelopment and mansionization,” said Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy at the L.A. Conservancy.
The city adopted its HPOZ ordinance in 1979 as a way to protect groups of historic homes that lend architectural relevance to their neighborhoods. In the newest districts there are many distinct architectural styles such as Arts and Crafts and period revival styles, such as Craftsman, American Foursquare, Tudor Revival and Dutch Colonial Revival. The Sunset Square district has a 1923 Mayan-inspired home designed by Lloyd Wright that marks the first use of his textile-block concrete construction method. Read more about L.A.'s newest historic preservation zones here.
The Washington Post ran an article asking "When does a name become a thing?" In Crystal City, Virginia, commuters and residents wonder how Amazon's newest headquarters will change where they work and live. Amazon’s announcement that it was splitting its long-awaited second headquarters between a New York borough and a Washington suburb. “National Landing is an urban community in Northern Virginia located less than 3 miles from downtown Washington, D.C.,” the company said.
Some perplexed Crystal City residents assumed Amazon had unilaterally changed the name of their neighborhood, the way a bank or an insurance company or an overnight delivery firm buys the rights to rename a stadium. Of course, nobody was going to argue with a company promising to create 25,000 jobs over the next decade. (At one point, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo offered to change his name to Amazon Cuomo if the tech giant chose his state for what it is calling HQ2.)
National Landing was born, not surprisingly, in a marketing office. For more than year, developer JBG Smith had been planning ways to rebrand the swaths of land it controls in Crystal City, Pentagon City and a patch of Potomac Yard in adjacent Alexandria.
In The Washington Post letters to the editor, Steve Lichtman writes, "In 1940, legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed a proposed development in what was the Temple Heights neighborhood of the District, along Connecticut Avenue north of Florida Avenue NW. This would have been what we now call a “mixed use” development of apartment buildings, office buildings, a hotel and retail space, all connected by a below-ground shopping complex and parking facility. Revolutionary for the time, the development never progressed beyond a design and a name: “Crystal City.”
"It seems more than coincidental that a complex of a similar mixed-use nature, connected by underground shopping, would develop just five miles away, but decades later, with the same name. It’s hard to believe the plan and the name were not influenced by the earlier proposal from the renowned architect." We agree. Read more.
After a busy career, 99-year-old Jack O’Hare is leading a quieter life these days in a retirement village on the outskirts of Waterford in Ireland. The Frank Lloyd Wright-trained architect, whose working years also involved teaching, painting and writing reflected on his life in a recent article in The Irish Times.
"Since I had studied Frank Lloyd Wright at college, I decided I’d write to him. He sent me a scholarship. And that was the beginning of my life really.” He worked first at Wright’s Taliesin estate in Wisconsin before moving on to Taliesin West, another sprawling Wright project in the Arizona desert. That was the new architectural training! It was crazy, but wonderful. We all helped to run that home. Cleaning, working, building chairs and things. In between, you were building.” Read his story here.
Climb aboard a horse-drawn wagon for an exterior tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright estate near Spring Green, WI on Dec. 1. The Visitor Center will be open for lunch and holiday shopping and lots of cheerful seasonal activities will take place. More information here.
The Arts and Crafts movement occupied a central place in discussions about modern life in Britain and America from the late 1840s to the early 1920s and beyond. Arts and Crafts reformers were concerned with the daily realities of the industrial age, and used design to envision and promote a new and improved way of living. This philosophy directly influenced artists, designers, and architects—like Frank Lloyd Wright.
An upcoming exhibit at the University of Texas at Austin titled The Rise of Everyday Design: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain and America will showcase over 200 items including books, drawings, furniture, decorative arts objects, photographs, and flyers, broadsides and advertising ephemera that offer a new and detailed look at the history of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Discover how theorists and makers—like John Ruskin and William Morris (along with lesser known figures like Lucy Crane) in Britain and Candace Wheeler, Alice and Elbert Hubbard, and Gustav Stickley in America—spread their ideas through books, retail showrooms, and world's fairs, and how Arts and Crafts objects, which were originally handmade and costly, came to be manufactured and sold to the everyday consumer.
Items on display from the Ransom Center's collections will include hand-drawn designs and sketches by Ruskin and Morris, a first edition copy of Owen Jones's Grammar of Ornament, books and marketing materials of the Kelmscott and Roycroft presses, stained glass designs by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones, and plates from Frank Lloyd Wright's Wasmuth portfolio. These items will be paired with photographs, furniture, and decorative arts objects from the University's Alexander Architectural Archives, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and private collections.
Opening on the 200th anniversary of John Ruskin's birth, the exhibition will show how the Arts and Crafts idea made its way into everyday homes, transforming the lives of ordinary people in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and remaining influential to this day. A companion volume, edited by exhibition curators Monica Penick and Christopher Long and published by Yale University Press in association with the Ransom Center, offers a new understanding of the Arts and Crafts idea, its geographical reach, and its translation into everyday taste. Read more here.