To honor Frank Lloyd Wright’s early experiments in desert architecture, the Arizona Department of Transportation partnered with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. What was once a bleak bridge along the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway is now done up with red accents inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.
“ADOT had a unique opportunity with this project to partner with the Frank Lloyd Foundation and use freeway aesthetics to tell a story by showing differences in land uses, land uses, landforms and history as you progress throughout the 22-mile corridor,” ADOT’s roadside development, project landscape and architecture coordinator, Joseph Salazar said in a statement. “There are several elements, including earth tone base paint, that occur throughout the freeway corridor and serve to tie various aesthetic areas together in one project.” Read more.
Darcy Lewis of KCET writes, "Although Frank Lloyd Wright's textile block houses are widely referred to as being pre-Columbian or Mayan in design, Eric Wright doesn’t see them that way. “My grandfather never imitated anyone and his designs and concepts were all original,” he says. “A poured concrete block is very different from the carved blocks that were used in such a sculptural way in the Yucatan. The effect is similar, but they’re not an imitation.” But to understand how these elements fit together, you need to understand the blocks themselves. Like any modular system, their success depends on exacting tolerances: each block must be precisely the correct size and dimension so that it can fit snugly against its neighbors.
The blocks were all hand-cast on the premises using the site’s own sand. Wright designed three-dimensional geometric patterns especially for each house that were pressed into the block’s surface. “Each block is a piece of abstract art in its own right, but then together, they form something more,” says Eric Lloyd Wright, a Malibu architect who apprenticed with his famous grandfather for nearly a decade in the 1950s. The size of each block, 16” x 16” x 3.5”, was “intended to be about what one person can lift without too much effort,” says Wright. The blocks were stacked directly atop each other in parallel rows. “Just as with interlocking children’s building blocks, no mortar was necessary,” he adds.
Reinforcing bars were added, then concrete was pumped into the cavity between the rows to “lock” the blocks together. These bars are what give the textile blocks their name, Wright says: “My grandfather thought of the bars as being woven through the structure, like the warp and weft of threads being woven on a loom.” Read more.
Frank Lloyd Wright's works span all across the United States, but if you want to concentrate on the ones located in California, KCET has provided a map of Wright's buildings in the state. See the diversity of his home designs and even a few rare gems such as his only creation in the city of San Francisco (the V.C. Morris Gift Shop), a shopping mall in Los Angeles (Anderton Court Shops) or even a medical clinic in San Luis Obispo (the Kundert Medical Clinic). Read more.
As spring begins arriving (albeit slowly) in the Laurel Highlands, Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Fallingwater has opened again for public tours. The March 10 opening marks the Mill Run, Fayette County, site's 55th season, according to a news release.
Designed by Wright as a vacation home for Pittsburgh's Kaufmann family, the house is designated as a National Historic Landmark and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Treasure. Traditional hour-long tours are offered daily — except Wednesdays — from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Dec. 2. Read more.
We have an update to the issue of the two Buffalo, NY houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that were recommended for local landmark designation Thursday by the Buffalo Preservation Board, even though neither of the owners wanted the designation.
The 8-0 vote to landmark the William R. Heath House, at 76 Soldiers Circle, and a 7-1 decision to give the same preservation protections to the Walter V. Davidson House, at 57 Tillinghast Place, came despite the owners' objections.
"If you were starting a hall of fame of Buffalo architecture, these would have been on your inaugural list," said Tim Tielman, a recent Preservation Board member and the executive director of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo.
The homes were determined to meet seven of the nine criteria for landmarking, when just one was required. The board's Richard Lippes argued the board's mandate was to make decisions based solely on the landmarking criteria. The board's recommendations will now go to the full Common Council, which will hold a public hearing before reaching a decision. Read more.
The controversial "Fountain of the Pioneers" should be gone from Kalamazoo, Michigan's Bronson Park within the year. After a marathon meeting and hours of public comment, Kalamazoo city commissioners voted early Tuesday to take it out of the park.
The fountain, which has been in the park since 1940, shows a European settler standing over a Native American. It has long been the center of debate: Opponents say it’s racist while supporters call it art and say it forces people to reflect on history. The fountain was created by sculptor Alfonso Iannelli, who also created “The Rock of Gibraltar” on the Prudential building in downtown Chicago and worked with Frank Lloyd Wright on Midway Gardens. Officials at the Kalo Foundation in Illinois, which operates the studio where Iannelli did a lot of his work, said they are disappointed that the fountain is being moved.
“The posturing these days of being politically correct in everything — history wasn’t always politically correct. …They should not interpret it as an offensive piece. It’s art,” Kalo Foundation Co-President Judy Barclay told WOOD 24 Hour News 8 over the phone. Read more.
The Whirling Arrow has reprinted an article about some of the fascinating women who gave historic commissions to Frank Lloyd Wright. An example:
The baroness Hilla von Rebay had never seen a building by Frank Lloyd Wright when she reached out to him to design a museum for her patron, Solomon Guggenheim. But she had seen pictures of Wright’s work in Berlin and she knew he was the one to do it.
“I need a fighter, a lover of space, and originator, a tester and a wise man,” she wrote to Wright on June 1, 1943. “I want a temple of spirit, a monument! And your help to make it possible… may this wish be blessed.”
Wright charged at the opportunity. Fifteen days later there was a signed agreement, there was a payment in the bank, and the museum that would transform all museum-making was on its way. “In retrospect,” says Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer in The Guggenheim Correspondence (1986), “it was Hilla Rebay whose efforts on all fronts, initiated, propelled, and in truth inspired the building.”
Feisty, determined women like Hilla Rebay were responsible for a large portion of Wright’s completed work. Read more.
"Frank Lloyd Wright started the Taliesin Fellowship with a group of 23 young apprentices in 1932, creating a legacy of learning by doing that continues today with the School of Architecture at Taliesin. Throughout the decades, generations of architects have honed their craft in the same drafting studios where Wright created masterpieces that continue to push the limits of design and construction. Since that time, technologies have altered the experience in in the Taliesin studios; views of the Arizona desert are obscured by laptop screens and the music of Wisconsin songbirds are muffled by the sounds of a 3D printer."
Jeff Goodman of The Whirling Arrow gives us an exploration of technology’s impact on architecture through the perspectives of three different generations of Taliesin apprentices. Vernon D. Swaback, apprenticed under Wright for more than 2 years, until the master’s passing in 1959. He started his own firm, known today as Swaback, in 1978. Larry Heiny was an apprentice in the 70s and 80s, and is now a partner at heibrid architecture, an international boutique design firm in Arizona. And, finally, Conor Denison is currently pursuing a master’s degree in architecture at the School of Architecture at Taliesin. Read Goodman's findings here.
AZ Big Media tells us that this year visitors have a whole new reason to frequent Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed Taliesin West. A new speaker series, "Taliesin Next", that explores how Wright’s legacy can inform the future while continuing to influence innovators to create a more beautiful and sustainable world.
Over the course of seven weeks, speakers of Taliesin Next present their ideas through a variety of perspectives as diverse as the great architect’s multifaceted legacy. Speakers will travel from the past to the future of Wright’s legacy through topics such as the quest for sustainability, Wright’s interchange with Japan and understanding how our cognitive experience of the built environment shapes our lives.
“As we embrace the rich history of innovation and social good at Taliesin and Taliesin West, we also explore what this can mean for our future,” said Foundation President and CEO Stuart Graff. “With Taliesin Next, we’re inviting the community into this conversation about how to live and build better.”
Most talks will take place in Taliesin West’s Music Pavilion or Cabaret Theatre, complementing the School of Architecture at Taliesin’s lecture series. Read more.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation informs us that Heloise Crista passed away on March 11, 2018, at her home at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Heloise was born in Kobe, Japan on March 9, 1926. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California. Heloise joined the Taliesin Fellowship in 1949, not to become an architect, but rather to be in “the atmosphere of such ideas and such people as Mr. and Mrs. Wright and the community of apprentices.”
Over time, however, Heloise became known for her sculpture, an interest sparked at Taliesin. Her first major work was a bronze bust of Wright, in 1956, which remains on display in the Garden Room at Taliesin West. Her sculptures have been incorporated throughout the campus at Taliesin West — where they continue to inspire visitors — and structures designed by the Taliesin Associated Architects, the architecture firm created by apprentices of Wright, following his passing.
“We cherish the magic that Heloise’s work and creativity has brought, and will continue to bring to our community,” said Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation President and CEO Stuart Graff. “Her spirit will live on through her sculptures, which have become an indelible part of the Taliesin West experience.” Read more.