From November 11-14 the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy will be hosting a virtual conference called Saving Wright Now. The conference will feature speakers and video tours of sites from all across the US and Japan.
Keynote by Justin Gunther, Director of Fallingwater (Mill Run, PA), on preserving Wright in a time of change.
Wright Sites x PechaKucha vol. 2 featuring rapid, highly-visual presentations from people who live or work in Wright buildings, including the Marin County Civic Center (San Rafael, CA), David and Gladys Wright House (Phoenix, AZ), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY), Hollyhock House (Los Angeles, CA) & more.
Panel assessing The Future of the Public Site, with leaders from Martin House (Buffalo, NY), Weltzheimer/Johnson House (Oberlin, OH), Rosenbaum House (Florence, AL), Burnham Block (Milwaukee, WI), and Taliesin (Spring Green, WI).
Roundtable & video tours of Prairie Houses for the 21st Century, showcasing sensitive updates to and daily living in Wright’s Prairie houses by owners of the Baker House (Wilmette, IL), William Ross House (Glencoe, IL) and Laura Gale House (Oak Park, IL).
Roundtable celebrating the many Partners in Advocacy who made it possible to save Booth Cottage (Glencoe, IL). Hear from the Glencoe Historical Society, Glencoe Village Manager Phil Kiraly, and other leaders involved, and be among the first to see inside the relocated cottage before restoration work begins.
Roundtable discussion of Last Resorts: Relocation of Wright Structures explores the difficult decision to relocate threatened structures. Video tours highlight notable successes Gordon House (Silverton, OR), Bachman-Wilson House (Bentonville, AR), Pope-Leighey House (Alexandria, VA) and two houses at Polymath Park (Acme, PA).
Roundtable on special issues in Preserving Wright’s Usonian Automatics, including video tours of three notable houses:Tracy House (Normandy Park, WA), Tonkens House (Cincinnati, OH), and Turkel House (Detroit, MI).
Roundtable on Preserving Wright in Japan with Japan-based experts and advocates who will discuss Wright’s key place in the historic preservation movement in Japan, and video highlights from the Imperial Hotel (Meiji-Mura, Inuyama), Jiyu Gakuen Girls’ School (Tokyo), and Yamamura House (Ashiya).
A special Gala evening celebrating the 2020 Wright Spirit Award honorees (previously announced) and featuring highlights from the Conservancy’s online silent auction (which includes Wright memorabilia, furniture, books, and exclusive experiences).
The full schedule, registration, and the latest details are available here.
Wright's Community Christian Church in Kansas City, MO is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, part of a strategy to revitalize the aging structure that opened in 1942, including the kick-off of a fundraising campaign to rekindle its signature “Steeple of Light.”
Wright had to do away with his plans for parking terraces, a rooftop garden and a rock ballast foundation, leaving him to lament that the building was only his in shape. Nevertheless, its unique rhombus form and ingenious use of pressure-sprayed concrete on corrugated steel still made the building cutting edge. The sanctuary seats 900 people and boasts exceptional acoustics. Though Wright’s perforated dome was constructed on the roof of the chancel, the searchlights intended to illuminate his “Steeple of Light” were not installed until 1994. With the help of light sculptor, Dale Eldred, lights projected through the dome, reaching three miles into the sky.
Rev. Shanna Steitz, senior minister at the church said the effort to achieve historic designation began two years ago when she was alarmed that the congregation of the nearby Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist, at 47th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, was planning to sell its building as a development site.
The first step was documenting Wright’s work. Avery Library at Columbia University in New York is the repository for Wright’s archives and the church was able to obtain 91 digital copies of his original drawings for Community Christian, invaluable in preparing its National Register application. The Kansas City church is one of 10 in the country designed by Wright.
About 250 people worship there on average Sundays, although services have been online during the pandemic. Steitz said Elizabeth Rosin of Rosin Preservation educated church members about what it meant to be listed on the Historic Register and prepared the application. In her application, Rosin acknowledged that while Wright didn’t finish the project, the structure clearly belonged to him:
“Although some portions of Wright’s original design were not built as drawn, such as an attached parking garage and chapel, the Community Church clearly conveys Wright’s design intent and provides an excellent example of the shift in his body of work from Prairie to Usonian while maintaining his consistent design philosophy that the site should provide inspiration for the building.”
Parallel to the push for the historic designation, the church established a “Wright on Main” non-profit group to allow individuals and foundations to make donations to help preserve the church without it being a religious donation. The decision was made to kickoff fundraising by setting a $100,000 goal to relight the
'Steeple of Light." It was envisioned by Wright and designed into reality by Dale Eldred in 1994, according to the church.
By the time Steitz arrived at Community Christian five years ago, the steeple had dimmed considerably. The church finally pulled the plug on its architectural feature about a year ago.
“The restoration of the steeple isn’t cheap, but it seemed to be something that would gather enthusiasm and attention to the building,” Steitz said. An Omaha firm, Strong Lighting, has been retained to replace the four “light cannons” that transmit the beams. It also does the lighting for the St. Louis Arch. The dome protecting the equipment also needs temporary repairs.
Once the funding is raised for the lights, the next phase will be lining up money for what’s called a historic structure report. The church already has been helped by Strata Architecture + Preservation on that front.
The report will be necessary to guide what Steitz ultimately will be a plan for a complete restoration of the building, which like many of Wright’s renowned designs, has its practical problems.
“We have all those issues of leaking buildings and internal plumbing,” she said. “That’s where the historic structure report comes into play to create long-term sustainability plans.” More here.
Anne Quito of Quartz has thoughts about how would America’s greatest architect design a home office. Could Frank Lloyd Wright, who had visionary solutions for contemporary living—from sustainable design, air conditioning, even open-plan offices—have an answer to the search for ideal COVID-era remote working configurations?
Quito believes a clue lies in the meticulously-restored Martin House in Buffalo, New York. Commissioned by workaholic businessman Darwin Martin in 1902, Wright considered it among one of his greatest achievements, along with Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum. Scholars cite the Martin House as a prime example of Wright’s Prairie Era design—a building characterized by broad, flat structures, and a free-flowing interior layout.
Wright designed over 500 homes over the span of 70 years, but the jewel of Buffalo’s Parkside neighborhood is one of the few with a dedicated work space. The Martin House’s 12 ft by 15 ft bursar’s office, as it was called, was designed to accommodate the owner’s compulsive work habits.
As corporate secretary of the Larkin Soap Company, Martin was in charge of the bookkeeping of the thriving business. He worked 14 to 16 hour shifts, six days a week. Apart from his all-consuming job at Larkin, Martin had investments in Toronto, Buffalo, and the western US, which meant more administrative paperwork. The custom-designed bursar’s office was a space where Martin could focus and to attend to those matters at home without distraction.
Wright introduced several solutions: First, he created a dedicated and discreet entrance to Martin’s office, concealing the door behind a low brick wall from the outside and behind a small door from the living room. Wright’s signature art glass windows were smaller and positioned above the 4.5 ft bookshelves so Martin won’t be distracted by street traffic when he was seated. (He was 5 ft 6). He also included a stained glass skylight to infuse some light in the room.
The bursar’s office had thick walls, and cocooned Martin from the din of horse-and-buggy and car traffic on his street. Wright built Martin a three-sided desk, akin to an open cubicle. The Martin House home office mirrored details in Wright’s design of the Larkin Company Administration Building—a major commission for the 35-year old architect. He installed built-in drawers for a type of client filing system Martin invented.
How might Wright deal with today’s home office woes, such as the need to be on constant Zoom meetings, interruptions from social media and domestic chores, and the spaghetti tangle of cables?
“Wright was working in a very different era, of course, with technologies that amounted to a telephone, a mechanical typewriter, some bookshelves, and file cabinets,” says historian Jack Quinan a leading scholar on Wright and curator emeritus of the Martin House Restoration Corporation. “I can’t begin to say how Wright would deal with today’s complex home office requirements other than to fall back on his consistently organic approach to such things.” Read the entire article and see the photos here.
Zach Brooke of the Milwaukee Magazine asks, "As the weather cools, and the pandemic continues to keep people away from public spaces, cozy weekend getaways are starting to seem increasingly appealing. And what better home to hole up in than a gorgeous rental designed by Frank Lloyd Wright?"
"Still Bend," a one-of-a-kind house in the tiny lakeside town of Two Rivers (90 miles north of Milwaukee), was designed for an unusual client: Life magazine. In 1938, the magazine asked the master modernist to produce the ideal abode for the modestly affluent.
Businessman Bernard Schwartz, fresh from a trip to Taliesin, saw so much of himself in the plans that he commissioned Wright to bring the house to life with slight alterations. Eighty years on, Still Bend’s third pair of owners live elsewhere and rent out the property.
Nightly rates at the 3,000-square-foot dwelling begin north of $400 and peak at $700 during the holidays. The four-bedroom home sleeps up to eight people.
Aesthetically, the home evokes the promise of yesterday’s house of the future. Period housewares accent original built-in furniture. Three fireplaces protect occupants from chilly northern air. And the interior, made of red brick and tidewater cypress board, along with red concrete floors, evokes the surrounding riverside landscape. For more information, visit this link.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Spoke Art teamed up once again in 2020! The follow-up to the popular “Frank Lloyd Wright: Timeless” exhibition made its debut in late October as a virtual showcase and now has limited edition artworks available.
The popular “Frank Lloyd Wright: Timeless” art exhibition returned this year in a new format featuring live-streamed events and limited-edition, Wright-inspired works from over a dozen international, contemporary illustrators and artists. 2020’s exhibition will be entirely virtual, debuting in late October.
Again this year, the pieces are designed in the style of a 1930s-era Works Progress Administration-style travel posters depicting artistic interpretations of Wright-designed buildings. A limited amount of high-quality, hand-numbered posters featured in the series will be available to purchase at Spoke-Art.com as serigraphs or archival pigment prints, also known as screen prints or giclées, ranging in price from $40 to $75 per print. Get your favorites before they sell out here.
Last week we shared info on an upcoming special event and tour at the Pappas House near St. Louis, MO on Saturday November 7th at 2pm. Apparently the event has already sold out in one day! Since it was so popular, Cynthia Pappas and Laura Pappas Bach have agreed to do a second program on the following day, Sunday November 8 at 1pm. Follow this link to learn more and reserve your space before it sells out!
The Frank Lloyd wright Foundation's Whirling Arrow blog recently posted on the important and prestigious wetland designation of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, near Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin summer home.
If you’re looking to view the explosion of fall color then head no further than the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, which was recently recognized as a Wetland of International Importance by the United States and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. What is Ramsar? It is an international treaty that promotes wetland conservation and sustainable use. It does not impose any land use restrictions and has no regulatory authority. This designation follows the final 92 miles of the Wisconsin River from the Alliant dam at Prairie du Sac to the confluence with the Mississippi River near Prairie du Chien, and includes 44,000 acres within the riverway that are owned by federal and state agencies and the Ho-Chunk tribe.
This designation is not just a feather in the cap for people from the great state of Wisconsin, it is much more. It promotes the identity of cities and villages along the river as an attractive place to live and where outdoor recreational opportunities are endless. It draws tourists, which in turn is a boon to local economies, especially during these times when local businesses are struggling as a result of the pandemic. Read more about this important designation here.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust is pleased to announce the receipt of two 3-year grant awards for its Teaching by Design program, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Teaching by Design integrates design-based inquiry and creative problem-solving into K-12 curriculum, connecting Wright's design philosophy to current issues in STEAM subjects. The program’s goal is to provide educators with an interactive art and design experience aligned with national learning standards that can be applied to classroom learning.
Celeste Adams, President & CEO of the Trust stated, “Funding over the next three years from both IMLS and the Terra Foundation for American Art will allow the Trust to expand this important design program for teachers, making it easily accessible on a local, national and international level at a time when the arts are so needed in the curriculums of schools everywhere.”
Piloted by the Trust from 2016 to 2018, the initial program resulted in a dedicated educators’ website with 50 downloadable lesson plans. Developed in cooperation with Chicago Public Schools teachers, the pilot program was funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Over the next three years, the current expanded project will engage 90 educators from over 40 area schools with the Trust’s Wright sites, and reach thousands more across the country with 100 additional online lesson plans and resources. The Trust’s Education department is committed to promoting an art and design learning community among educators and to hosting professional development seminars year-round.
“While we are targeting educators in Chicago Public Schools with low-income populations, our Teaching by Design lessons can also be adapted to accommodate home school and virtual classrooms,” said Kate Coogan, Trust Manager for Education. “Now more than ever, access to quality educational materials is important, and the Trust is pleased to add to those online resources,” she said.
For more information, click here.
Mark Hertzberg's Wright in Racine blog explores the newly re-built gate lodge greenhouse at Frank Lloyd Wright's Penwern estate on Delavan Lake in Wisconsin. Bill Orkild, who has been called "The Wizard of Penwern," invited Mark to an open house a few weeks ago to show off the new / old gate lodge greenhouse constructed this year. It replicates the original one which was demolished in 1983. Mark dubbed Orkild "The Wizard" not only for the magic of his restoration abilities, but also because he is the construction master of virtually every phase of Penwern’s rehabilitation since Sue and John Major became the estate's stewards in 1994. Read and see more here.