The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, in partnership with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, announced today Wright Virtual Visits, a social media initiative highlighting Frank Lloyd Wright-designed public sites that are currently closed due to COVID-19.
A dozen partner sites from around the country will allow virtual visitors to explore some of Wright’s most treasured buildings. Every Thursday at 10 a.m. PST beginning April 2, each site will share a short video tour of another site via social media. These tours will help each site’s social media followers discover and experience new places and raise public awareness for all of these important landmarks. Taliesin West, Fallingwater, Unity Temple, and Hollyhock House are participants, to name a few. The full list is available with more information here.
Blair Kamin offers an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune about Parker Noble Berry, a young architect of tremendous promise before succumbing to the 1918 Flu Pandemic.
Berry was a native of Nebraska who was raised in Princeton, Illinois, and became the chief draftsman for Louis Sullivan before striking out on his own in 1917. A year later, he was dead at age 30, a victim of the global flu pandemic of 1918 that killed an estimated 50 million people. Berry “may have evolved into one of the country’s great architects had he not succumbed” to the flu, according to Tim Samuelson, Chicago’s official cultural historian.
Drawings of Berry’s lone remaining commercial project, the old First State Bank of Manlius, Ill., about 130 miles west of Chicago in Bureau County, are in the collection of the Art Institute. Read more about Berry and his work here.
Herculean efforts are underway by the Kalita Humphrey's Theater at Turtle Creek Conservancy to preserve the future of Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark Kalita Humphreys Theater in its park setting, but also continue to be vigilant and pro-active because of concerns related to the theater restoration and potential over-development of the site.
Even though the organization's Spring events are on hold, it still remains so important to show wide public support for the theater restoration and site enhancements. The best way now is to catch up on the efforts thus far in the group's past newsletters and donate to support the efforts at this link. You can also learn more here.
If any single structure represents Sarasota, Florida's cultural stature and architectural heritage, it is the Van Wezel. The 1,741-seat Van Wezel’s future has been the cause of discussion as the Bayfront 20:20 group envisions a master plan for 42 acres of city-owned land on the bay north of downtown.
Some people believe the building has outlived its usefulness and must be replaced. Others recognize its landmark status, the efforts made by the city and hall management to renovate and update the structure in the past two decades, and believe it should be an important part of a revitalized bayfront.
William Wesley Peters, Wright's loyal apprentice and later son-in-law, is the architect of record for the building—but it's Wright's 3rd wife, Olgivanna Lloyd Wright, who selected the Van Wezel’s famous purple color, which duplicates the hue of a seashell she found near the Sea of Japan. That shell is on display in the hall’s lobby. Learn more about the building here.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs often paid special attention to the acoustics—how a room or a space sounds. In this Education Activity: Acoustics!, The Whirling Arrow encourages you to try different noises and sounds in your home’s rooms and observe how different rooms absorb or reflect sound. Find out more about this activity here.
Completed in 1939 to designs by iconic architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, the Alan I W Frank House in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has largely steered clear of the books and exhibitions by which its architectural style and practitioners achieved fame. The Frank House has had some notable local press just recently, but only now is it the subject of a nationally distributed book, Alan I W Frank House: The Modernist Masterwork by Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer from Rizzoli International Publications.
Alan I W Frank, the book’s primary author and current resident, was 5-years-old with two older sisters when his parents Robert and Cecilia Frank commissioned Gropius and Breuer to design the house. The elder Frank was a third generation Pittsburgh industrialist, engineer and philanthropist whose newly formed Copperweld Steel was a growing enterprise. Gropius had just delivered a particularly persuasive lecture in Pittsburgh, and the Franks considered him the world’s leading architect, beyond likely comparisons to Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe or Le Corbusier, perhaps Rudolf Schindler or Richard Neutra.
The Frank House was a singular opportunity. An unconstrained budget allowed realization of a Gesamtkunstwerk—a total work of art in landscape, architecture and industrial design—that their earlier European social housing projects could not fathom. And Robert Frank was a uniquely expert client, whose frequent multi-page, single-spaced letters per week during design and construction suggested specific technical innovations for the house. Industry-minded Gropius had declared that “architecture begins where engineering ends.” A close collaboration suited all parties.
Very much “free of untruths or ornamentation,” in Gropius’s phrase, the Frank House retains much of the geometric severity of the European projects. Yet it is transcendently luxurious. Sprawling, with 12,000 square feet of indoor space and 5,000 more of outdoor terraces, it houses nine bedrooms and a full 13 baths, as well as a swimming pool. Read more about this remarkable house in Charles Rosenblum's article here.
The Westcott House is launching a series of online programs, including a Virtual Book club with a first discussion scheduled for April 28 and featuring Nancy Horan and her book Loving Frank. Other programs in works are a webinar with FLLW Conservancy to reflect on 15 years of the Westcott House being open to the public and the restoration process; PechaKucha online event focused on Wright sites and Wright in Ohio short documentary watch party. Get more details here.