Spring and summer are the busiest seasons for both tourists and fundraising for the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, the Hemingway Birthplace, and Pleasant Home in Oak Park, Illinois. With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting Illinois just as spring began, local house museums found themselves in desperate times. Stay-at-home orders shuttered the house museums, and social distancing guidelines, on top of tourists wary of travel, curtailed the number of visitors who were able to visit this summer. Decreased revenue from ticket sales has led the local organizations to get creative with their fundraising efforts.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust was forced to cancel its largest annual fundraiser, the Wright Plus Housewalk, this spring. In May, the trust laid off 25 percent of its workforce. Faced with steeply declining revenues from tours at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, and purchases at the gift shop, the Trust sent out its annual appeal out in August, roughly two and a half months early. They also doubled their planned fundraising goal to $200,000. Tom Gull, director of development for the FLWTrust, says that generous donations from board members and others helped them in the spring, but the Trust is still looking to raise roughly $160,000 by the end of the year.
The problem is not limited to Oak Park. House museums across the country rely on foot traffic for ticket sales, and the stay-at-home orders followed by sharply diminished travel wreaked havoc on the normally busy summer tourist season. More here.
Frank Lloyd Wright fans and architecture lovers of all ages will once again experience one of Wright’s most personal creations, Taliesin West, now that his desert laboratory and famed winter home reopened to the public Oct. 15.
Taliesin West joins a handful of other Wright sites across the country that have recently reopened, including Taliesin in Wisconsin, Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, and The Guggenheim in New York City, which reopened Oct. 3.
The Taliesin West reopening offers:
- A Self-Guided Audio Tour. The debut of a new tour allows visitors a safe and interactive experience at Arizona’s only cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site. The highlight of the audio tour will be hearing Wright’s own spoken words firsthand through original audio recordings.
- Revamped Insights Tour. The tour offers a more intimate experience with fewer people per group, masks required, mindful social distancing in place, and more time spent outdoors.
- A Safe and Comfortable Experience. Additional cleanliness, safety measures and protocols are in place.
- More Access for Everyone. Recent ADA upgrades make the site more accessible.
“We are incredibly excited to welcome visitors safely back to Taliesin West, especially during this time when Frank Lloyd Wright’s inspiring work is needed most,” said Kevin Conley, vice president of public engagement for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. “For the past several months, we’ve all been feeling disconnected from the people and world around us. Wright’s work teaches us how to stay more deeply connected, to nature, to beauty and the arts, and to the people around us. In this difficult year, we know the experience of Taliesin West and these meaningful connections will inspire our visitors to live happier and healthier lives.”
Tickets for tours starting Oct. 15 are available to book online. Taliesin West will be open for tours Thursday through Sunday with hours on Thursday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm and Friday and Saturday from 10am to 7pm. The Insights Tour is $40 for adults, $30 for students (ages 13-25 with valid student ID) and $19 for youth (ages 6-12). Access to the self-guided audio tour and Taliesin West is $20 per guest with advanced online ticket reservations required, as capacity is limited for safe social distancing. More here.
For nearly a decade, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has invited a graphic designer to work full time on the Marketing and Communication team, which includes living and working at Taliesin West. This summer, 2019–2020 Graphic Design fellow, Rachel Minier, visited Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin for the first time. The Whirling Arrow gives us Rachel's personal take on "A Taliesin Pilgrimage." Read the article here.
"Wright and New York" by Anthony Alofsin on Tuesday, October 27th, 6pm-7pm via Zoom Webinar
Frank Lloyd Wright denounced New York as an “unlivable prison,” but in the 1920s the city gave him a refuge from personal and creative troubles, provided key clients and commissions, and helped him to resurrect a foundering career. The massive, sprawling metropolis unlocked new creative energies and later served as a foil for Wright’s work in the desert and in promoting organic architecture. And at the end of his life, Wright spent his final years at the Plaza Hotel working on the Guggenheim.
Anthony Alofsin discusses how he discovered Wright’s complex relationship to New York City with foundational research in the recently opened Wright archives at Columbia University and the Museum of Modern Art.
Award-winning architect, author, exhibition curator, and teacher, Dr. Anthony Alofsin, FAIA, is internationally recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and as an expert on the history of architecture. He is the author or editor of 15 books and has written over 80 articles, essays, reviews, and other publications. Anthony is also the Roland Gommel Roessner Centennial Professor of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin.
Westcott Lecture Series program was made possible by a CARES Act grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Register here.
An Afternoon with Cynthia Pappas at the Pappas House on Saturday, November 7th at 2pm with Special Guest Laura Pappas Bach.
Come join new owners Michael and Carol Miner as they welcome Cynthia Pappas, daughter of original Frank Lloyd Wright clients Ted and Bette Pappas. Cynthia will conduct an exclusive tour of the Pappas family home, followed by an intimate discussion of the home’s history, which will include sharing personal family stories and photos not available on regular house tours.
Also joining Cynthia will be Laura Pappas Bach, daughter of the late Ted Pappas, Jr. who will talk about her father’s experience of growing up in a Frank Lloyd Wright house, as well as his ongoing relationship with the home and his later efforts at home design. Cynthia and Laura will both participate in a Q&A at the end of the presentation.
Tickets are $100 each, which includes a copy of Better Pappas’s book “No Passing Fancy” which of course Cynthia and Laura will be happy to sign. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative. $85 per ticket is tax deductible.
Attendance will be limited to 10 people. Masks are required, NO EXCEPTIONS!
To purchase your ticket, go here to make a donation. Then select the $100 donation on the drop down menu, type in your name in the “name on your donation” field. Your name will then be at the door. A subsequent instructional email will be sent to you that includes directions and other details.
The only Lake Forest, Illinois, home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright sold last week, after about four months on the market, for less than 5 percent under its initial asking price. Completed in 1953, the Dolores Mummert and Charles F. Glore Jr. House was the last North Shore home designed by the legendary architect to be built before his death six years later.
Located on a nearly two-acre parcel the Glore House's 4,300-square-foot design mimics that of a yacht — the home's namesake was an avid boater who commissioned the famed architect to design something with a nautical feel. The long and open floor plan includes walls of south-facing windows overlooking a ravine. The house is among the largest of Wright's Usonian designs, and one of the only ones to originally include a servant's quarters.
By the 1980s, the home had fallen into disrepair. According to the architectural firm commissioned to renovate it, the house was at risk of being demolished when it was purchased for $1.425 million in 1999 by Richard and Beth Katz. The subsequent remodel turned a cramped terrace into a family room and added a three-car garage. The interior was updated with mahogany trim in the home's midcentury style, and its outdoor terrace was realigned to bring it more in line with Wright's original plan.
The updates won praise and an increase of nearly 50 percent in its next sale price. In 2007, the American Institute of Architects Northeast Illinois awarded the home a Merit in Architecture Award for restoration, and two years later Lake Forest Preservation Foundation awarded the home its Historic Preservation Award. See the photos here.
One of America’s great residential treasures, the Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs, CA, is on the market with a sky-high price of $25 million.
One of the last domestic commissions by Vienna-born architect Richard Neutra, and considered one of the finest examples of the International style of architecture in the United States, the sprawling, multi-winged home was designed and built in the mid-1940s as a winter retreat for Pittsburgh department store tycoon Edgar J. Kaufmann, the same deep-pocketed philanthropist and architecture patron who in the 1930s commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design and build the arguably even more famous Fallingwater residence in southwestern Pennsylvania.
After Kaufmann died in 1955, his dazzling desert retreat, originally designed to be occupied just two months per year, stood vacant for a number of years. Having deteriorated due to neglect and bastardized with clunky renovations, the house came for sale in the late 1980s as a major fixer-upper but did not sell until 1993 when it was acquired for about $1.5 million by financial executive Brent Harris and his now ex-wife, architectural historian and preservationist Beth Harris.
The Harrises saw a rare opportunity to save an extraordinary residence designed by one of the most innovative architects of his day. And that is exactly what they did, hiring esteemed Santa Monica architecture firm Marmol Radziner & Associates to bring the house back to its pristine original glory. In addition to removing all the tacky additions, they identified original materials and finishes, tracked down some of the original manufacturers and craftsman, and sourced new entities to restore and/or re-create every element of the house down do its door handles and lustrous birch-veneered plywood. The results are undeniably spectacular.
Neutra designed the roughly 3,200-square-foot vacation house to both facilitate privacy and promote a relaxed indoor-outdoor lifestyle, while at the same time offering respite and shelter from the blazing heat and sun. The central section of the glass-walled abode holds the living and dining rooms, while other areas pinwheel off the center of the house, with each wing dedicated to a specific function. Marketing materials prepared by listing agent Gerard Bisignano at Vista Sotheby’s International Realty show the separate north wing holds a pair of guest suites with outside entrances, while the southern extension accommodates the garage. The west wing contains a couple of additional guest or family bedrooms, plus the service areas, which include the kitchen, and the most private east wing houses the main bedroom that overlooks the swimming pool. Zoning restrictions did not allow for a second floor so Neutra’s clever solution to take advantage of views and breezes is what he called the “gloriette,” an outdoor room atop the house’s central section. With operable vertical aluminum louvers that modulate light and air, the partly covered space includes built-in seating, a massive stone fireplace and knock-your-bathing-suit-off views of Mount San Jacinto.
Immortalized in photographs by Julius Shulman in 1947, and then again in 1970 by high-society photographer Slim Aarons, the swimming pool remains the visual and psychic soul of the lushly planted 2.5-acre estate. More here.
"I think there will be a day when we wish we still had many of his structures still standing." A teaser trailer is available for an intriguing documentary film titled Goff, the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Britni Harris. It's not often we see films about architects, which already makes this unique.
Bruce Goff was an American architect, best known for his eccentric organic designs that flew in the face of conventional architecture. His design philosophy came from the abstract term called, “continuous present,” coined by Gertrude Stein, which he described as living the past and present in one continuous stream. Goff thought that was the ideal of architecture — architecture that had no conventional beginning, middle, or end — but continued.
Though well regarded in his time by Frank Lloyd Wright and cited as an influence by both Frank Gehry and Philip Johnson, Goff never attained the same level of canonization in the architectural world. With the future of Goff’s work uncertain, this documentary uncovers the mystery behind the man and the timeless nature of his designs.
Here's the first teaser trailer (+ poster) for Britni Harris' documentary Goff, from Vimeo (via SlashFilm)
If you missed the recent US/ICOMOS live webinar all about Robie House on Oct. 15, then you're in luck! The entire event has now been posted on YouTube.
Completed in 1910, the house Wright designed for Frederick C. Robie is the consummate expression of his Prairie style. The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust recently completed a comprehensive restoration of the building, revealing Wright’s extraordinary original vision. The visit was hosted by the architect who led the work and the architectural historian who served as Scholar-in-Residence in 2003.
Architect T. Gunny Harboe, FAIA shows the home's architecture and explains some of the critical processes and details that went into the recently completed restoration work.
Author and historian Kathryn Smith provides the history of the commission and explains the reasons why the Robie House became “the cornerstone of modernism” influencing the early development of “modern architecture” in Europe in the first half of the 1900s.
If you're not able to visit Robie in person right now, then be sure to watch the event here to learn all about it.