"Wingspread," located along the shores of Lake Michigan in Racine, Wisconsin, has added an immersive 360 degree virtual guided tour to its website. Filmed in the Great Hall, this firsthand video tour gives viewers a chance to learn about the iconic Wright-design and history of this remarkable 14,000-foot building, once the home of Herbert Fisk Johnson, Jr. of SC Johnson.
Wingspread, now home of The Johnson Foundation, and part of the Wingspread Retreat & Executive Conference Center, has hosted many notable private events over the years. Beginning in 2018, The Johnson Foundation has opened the doors of Wingspread to businesses and organizations looking to utilize this same space for their meetings and leadership retreats.
A Wingspread virtual tour featuring “The Wigwam and The Necklace” can be viewed in The Whirling Arrow here.
Each Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern time (10 a.m. Pacific), many public Frank Lloyd Wright sites will share #WrightVirtualVisits via their social media. These short videos introduce sites to new audiences and provide interesting and informal glimpses into their design, history, and more. For your easy enjoyment, The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy has conveniently collected all the #WrightVirtualVisits videos that were shared on May 7 here.
Architect Magazine features the dramatic tale of a famously taciturn architect, his disenchanted client (and spurned lover?), and the celebrated house they created together that gets a new telling in Alex Beam’s Broken Glass: Mies van der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth, and the Fight Over a Modernist Masterpiece, published in March by Random House. Beam, a Boston Globe columnist, builds his narrative from archival research and countless documents, including 3,800 pages of trial manuscripts as well as Farnsworth’s journal and letters.
"It had started as a dream, the collaboration between Edith Farnsworth and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. She a Chicago doctor, he one of the great midcentury architects, they met in 1945, at a dinner party. When Mies agreed to design a country retreat for her in Plano, Ill., she wrote that “the effect was tremendous, like a storm, a flood, or other act of God.” Together they aspired to create an enduring work of architecture—a shared passion that reportedly spilled over into an affair. In 1951, when the house was completed, Architectural Forum was rapturous in its praise, calling it “a concentration of pure beauty, a distillation of pure spirit” that has “no equal in perfection of workmanship, in precision of detail, in pure simplicity of concept.”
By then the dream was over. Mies initially had anticipated a cost of $40,000, but after it soared to more than $74,000 (nearly $740,000 today), Farnsworth refused to settle the outstanding balance. (“My house is a monument to Mies van der Rohe and I’m paying for it,” she griped to her nephew.) Their dalliance long over, architect and client faced off in court, their private falling out becoming an ugly public feud." Read about this fascinating story and see the photos of this iconic house here.
Last July, after almost 20 years of restoration and reconstruction, the stewards of Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House celebrated a milestone. Landscaping on the 1.5-acre estate in a suburban neighborhood of Buffalo was complete. It still looked raw and unformed, but the planting was done and now it was just a matter of waiting.
“They say the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, and the third year it leaps,” says Mary Roberts, executive director of the nonprofit that conserves one of the most important and ambitious building complexes Wright designed during his more than 70-year career.
The gardens, just emerging from the long, gray Buffalo winter, are creeping now. The bulbs — nearly 7,000 of them — are coming up, including the daffodils, narcissus, and bluebells. There are buds visible on the new bushes, but the wisteria is still asleep.
Unfortunately we'll all need to wait a little longer to enjoy it all— the house, a National Historic Landmark, is closed, like just about everything else because of the novel coronavirus. That’s particularly sad, says Roberts, because this was the year the Martin house was to emerge in its full glory. Read more here.
News reaches us that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Walter Burley Griffin Society of America has decided to cancel their annual meeting and tours that were supposed to held in June of this year in Elmhurst and Crystal Lake, IL. The hope is that Elmhurst will be the setting for the next annual meeting, whenever it may be safe to hold it. The group will post any new information on their website as it becomes available. In the meantime, consider becoming a member of the organization here to support their education and preservation efforts.