Following a sharp rejection of a proposed visitor center plan for the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio it had labored on for three years, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust announced it will not appeal the ruling and will consider other options.
On Aug. 27, the Oak Park historic preservation committee unanimously denied the Trust’s proposed plan to change historic buildings so they could build a modern visitor's center to receive visitors to Wright’s Home and Studio. The Trust’s proposed plan called for moving or demolishing one home adjacent to the Wright Home and Studio and altering another as they pursued the construction of the new visitor center. Following the denial, the Trust could have appealed the ruling to the Oak Park village board, but it announced in a Sept. 5 statement it would no longer pursue the project.
“The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust will not exercise its option to appeal the decision of the Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission, but will reconsider its plan,” the statement read. “Cultural and educational values are central to the Trust’s mission and will continue to guide us.” More information here.
There are currently two houses for sale in north suburban Riverwoods, Illinois, designed by noted architect Edward Humrich.The low-slung glass and brick buildings blend in seamlessly with their wooded environments. “He was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian homes, [specifically] the simplicity of design that lives harmoniously with nature,” says listing agent Honore Frumentino of Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices KoenigRubloff. See them here.
In July, UNESCO recognized Frank Lloyd Wright's contribution to modern architecture by adding eight of his buildings to its list of World Heritage sites. Half are in the Midwest, since the architect spent most of his 70-year career in the Chicago area and Wisconsin, his birthplace. The Prairie State boasts the highest number of his structures, followed by the Badger State. Combined, the pair claim about 25 sites that are open to the public. Dozens more remain in private hands but can be viewed from the sidewalk or during special open house events, such as the Wright Plus Housewalk in Oak Park, IL, which the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust holds in May.
To shepherd travelers on their pilgrimages, the Illinois and Wisconsin tourism offices unveiled self-guided trails that connect the Wright dots. (In Wisconsin, hit all nine and earn a collectible mug.) More information here.
Elkins Park’s Beth Sholom Synagogue, completed the same year as the Guggenheim in 1959, is one of the most important buildings of Wright’s late career. It appears like a mountain on its exterior, while its main sanctuary, one of the most thrilling spaces in the Philadelphia region, feels light and airy, like a vast tent.
The Beth Sholom Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit, nonreligious organization created to care for the building has installed an excellent visitor center that tells the very interesting story of how a visionary rabbi, Mortimer J. Cohen, and a visionary architect were able to create the space.
A new installation by artist David Hartt, The Histories (Le Mancenillier), which will be on view from Sept. 11 to Dec. 19, is a step to increase the building’s profile and audience. It was funded by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and curated by Cole Akers, curator of another mid-century landmark, Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Conn.
David Hartt is the first artist commission to activate Beth Sholom's Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building. Comprising video, sculpture, music, and tropical plants, the exhibition will offer unexpected ways to experience the National Historic Landmark. More here.
Bakersfield, California found itself at an interesting architectural intersection in the late 1950s and early 1960s that resulted in a legacy of high-quality, midcentury homes and buildings.
The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ablin residence is perhaps the most well-known in the area, but other hidden gems are scattered about the city—from West High School to private residences in Oleander and the Bakersfield Country Club neighborhoods. These structures and the architects behind them will be celebrated this fall with Bakersfield Built: Architecture of the 1960s, a series of events including a symposium, lectures, a home tour and a downtown walking tour.
"A lot was being rebuilt during the 1960s and there was a period where we were expanding east, and we had the opportunity to build really modern structures," said Rachel Magnus, curator of the Bakersfield Museum of Art, one of the partners in the project. The museum's accompanying exhibit, opening Sept. 12, will feature photos, design plans, furniture and other artifacts of the era in an accompanying on display through January. The Kern County Museum, Cal State Bakersfield and the Society of Architectural Historians Southern California Chapter are also involved in the events. One of the headline events is a symposium and home tour on Sept. 21.
The symposium will feature an eclectic lineup of speakers and moderators, including former students of Cullimore's, the current president of Frank Lloyd Wright's school of architecture in Arizona, a Getty Research Institute curator and at least one architect who was practicing locally at the time.
Later that day, midcentury buffs can tour five local residences for a self-guided tour, including the Ablin residence. Perhaps the most famous architectural structure in Bakersfield, Frank Lloyd Wright designed the home as his last commission for local couple George and Millie Ablin.
"One of my favorite stories is while he’s designing the house, Millie gets pregnant with another child and Frank is not pleased because this impacts the design of the house," said Sian Winship, president of the Society of Architectural Historians Southern California Chapter.
Winship describes the home as "hexagonal-Usonian," which typically featured a single-story with a flat roof, and the fundamental unit of design is the equilateral triangle. Its most visually striking feature is an explosion of light and space from a dramatic 16-foot high, 48-foot expanse of glass, which provide views of the mountains and golf course.
More information about Bakersfield Built: Architecture of the 1960s here.
The Agape Ringers, Chicago’s premier handbell ensemble, will perform in concert at Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, Illinois on Sunday, September 15 at 4pm.
This performance is presented in partnership by Unity Temple Restoration Foundation (UTRF) and the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation (UTUUC).
The Agape Ringers are noted for beautifully orchestrated presentations of entertaining and varied music. Listeners are entranced by the ensemble’s energy, precision and musicality. Since its founding in 1992, The Agape Ringers has made over 315 appearances across North America, Puerto Rico, and England. The ringers have been featured as performers and teachers for events such as the Fellowship of American Baptist Musicians Conference for Church Musicians in Green Lake, WI, and local, regional and national gatherings of the Handbell Musicians of America. The fifteen musicians have a collective ringing experience of over 450 years and perform on 76 bronze Malmark handbells and 73 Malmark Choirchimes®.
The Agape Ringers will be performing in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, a national historic landmark and recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tickets for The Agape Ringers are $30, UTRF and UTUUC members enjoy a discounted price of $25. More info and tickets here.
An urban area has historically been limited by the availability of transportation to move the population within it. No matter whether we move on foot or by car, half an hour either way is about as long as we're prepared to travel to and from our place of work. That timeless truism is called "Marchetti's Constant," and it has a curious effect on the size of our cities.
As our modes of transport improve, the result is not that our commutes shrink, but that the distance between our homes and places of work increases. That, Jonathan English explains in a fascinating article over at CityLab, is why ancient Rome was tiny, and modern Atlanta is huge.
The predominantly American method, developed in part by Frank Lloyd Wright, was based on the car, and proposed dispersing the population over a much wider area, on individual plots of land – a recipe for what has become the classic American suburb. This model allows for a 20-mile commute in 30 minutes, and that extends the metropolitan diameter to 40 miles. An "expressway city" can thus cover more than 1,250 square miles. Read more about this interesting premise here.
Taliesin Preservation is pleased to announce the "Taste of Taliesin." This event is inspired by Wright’s Organic Architecture and draws from Wright’s vision that community, agriculture, and food are integrally connected with the land. Chefs, local producers, and the organic Taliesin farm, Fazenda Boa Terra come together to celebrate the bounty of the harvest season.
The seasonally infused menu will highlight the terroir of the Driftless Region and the agricultural and culinary community within. Guests will move through four stations, located by significant buildings on the Taliesin estate. Inspired by the landscape and the architecture, three stations will feature a savory small plate and beverage with the fourth featuring dessert and coffee. With short walks between each station, guests are given the opportunity to truly experience what has been called one of the most significant architectural anthologies in the world with buildings from nearly every decade of Wright’s career.
The Taste of Taliesin will be on September 29 and the cost is $150 per person. More information here.