Library Street Collective has developed a unique digital connection between the visual arts and the built environment, incorporating aspects of storytelling, architectural history and an artist’s unique perspective through the presentation of SITE: Art and Architecture in the Digital Space. Each exhibition featured within this digital platform will respond to its environment — making connections between art and place.
The newest iteration of SITE is set against the organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dorothy G. Turkel House. The only of Wright’s works within Detroit’s city limits, the house was completed in 1958 and remained the home of its namesake until the mid 1970s. In the years succeeding her ownership, the house faced decades of deferred maintenance and vacancy, and was at significant risk of "demolition by neglect" despite its protection as a City of Detroit landmark. By the summer of 2006, the house was in mortgage foreclosure and would require preservation-minded buyers in order to save it.
Working from original archived blueprints, buyers Norm Silk and Dale Morgan hired former Wright apprentice Lawrence Brink to lead the project and spent over 4 years in the pursuit of its rehabilitation. The Turkel House is an example of one of Wright’s Usonian Automatic designs, which grew out of the Usonian construction he originated during the Great Depression. These houses were built from a concrete masonry system that Wright created in 1949, and though there are hundreds of Usonian homes in existence throughout America, only 7 are Automatics, with the Dorothy G. Turkel house as the largest and the only one built with 2 stories.
For Wright, Usonian architecture provided the building blocks for mass customization as an idealized vision of the United States at its democratic zenith. The architect’s language of geometries, materials, and systems parallel that of the artist, whose unique vocabulary of ideas and forms translate as an essence that carries from work to work throughout their career, always at the service and encouragement of the viewer’s personal and social progress. It is against this backdrop that SITE examines the elemental and progressive ideas at play within the works of artists Amoako Boafo, Nick Cave, Beverly Fishman, Loie Hollowell, Tony Matelli, Josh Sperling, Frank Stella, Hank Willis Thomas, Blair Thurman, and Austyn Weiner. See the Turkel House photos and experience the artwork here.
Big ideas stimulate the imagination. They offer the promise of change, rebirth and exhilaration. If they’re big enough — and if they work — they can be life-changing for an industry or a city or even an entire region. Big ideas can be expensive, time-consuming and extremely difficult to implement. That’s why many of them simply fade away. A few may even boomerang on their creators, eventually causing more harm than good.
Business First has pulled together more than two dozen big ideas from Buffalo, New York's past. Some are familiar to us. A few are obscure, perhaps deservedly in some cases. Two entries on this list caught our eye.
The Larkin Administration Building was completed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1906. The headquarters building of the Larkin Co. was anchored by a massive tower at each corner. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, himself destined to rank as a great architect, hailed it as a masterpiece. But the Larkin Co. fell on hard times, and the city foreclosed on the landmark in 1945. The Common Council sold it for $5,000 in 1949 on condition that it be demolished in 1950. Wright angrily concluded that the Larkin family had been unworthy of his genius: "To them, it was just one of their factory buildings, to be treated like any other."
And then there is the Darwin Martin House. Darwin Martin, a director of the Larkin Co., had asked Frank Lloyd Wright to design its corporate offices. He also hired Wright to create a six-building residential compound on Jewett Parkway, which was completed in 1907. The Martins left in 1937, and the home fell into disrepair. But local officials had learned a lesson from the demolition of the Larkin Administration Building. Martin House Restoration Corp. was founded in 1992 to renovate and reconstruct the compound, which has since become a tourist attraction. Read the entire list here.
Modernism Week will offer an exciting array of online events during the Modernism Week Online Experience, February 1 – 28, featuring more than 25 newly created programs. An in-person schedule of events is planned for April 8-18, including the Modernism Show & Sale, April 8-11, at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
Created specifically for Modernism Week, the programs will be available for on-demand streaming starting Feb. 1, and available for viewing for the entire month. In addition to these programs, Modernism Week will offer an online auction with architectural experiences and specialty items not typically available to the public. The auction and tickets for these online programs will be available for purchase starting Feb. 1 at modernismweek.com.
Ticket prices will range from $15-$45 per event, with a few free documentary film screenings. The pricing allows for one household with one viewing device to participate. To see a list of some of the featured programs click here.
The Spaces reports that Midcentury modern living rooms, from futuristic conversation pits to modern takes of the modernist style, were among their most repinned Pinterest posts in 2020. But will 2021 see the aesthetic finally go out of fashion? Or will its reign continue as we spend more time in our homes?
Among those featured is the Palm Springs landmark Frey House II. With a natural rock formation as a dramatic focal point inside, this is the eponymous property designed by Palm Springs architect Albert Frey. Inbuilt seating and cabinetry facilitates conversation and provides a neutral framework for living that emphasises the landscape beyond floor-to-ceiling glass.
Also, a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Connecticut home. Allan J. Gelbin was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin, and he picked up a trick or two from his famous tutor. This Connecticut home features an extra-long living room and dining room framed by ribbon windows and a huge field stone fireplace.
Then there is Richard Neutra’s Wilkins House in South Pasadena. To take a look at this and the rest of the most re-pinned midcentury living rooms, click here.
Designed by Wisconsin architect John Randall McDonald in the 1950s, now on the market in Brookfield, Wisconsin, this MCM home features an interior of wood cladding, built-ins, and stacked stone. The home offers just over 3,000 square feet of interior space, including four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The second level features a bookshelf-lined hallway that runs the length of the house, as well as a parallel balcony that connects to each bedroom along the rear facade. Modern changes include updated bathrooms and a revamped kitchen, as well as restored terrazzo floors and system upgrades.
McDonald—who studied under Louis Kahn, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and other modernist masters at Yale University in the 1940s—designed hundreds of structures throughout his decades-long career, continuing to practice until his death in 2003. At one point, he became well known for delivering the stylings of Frank Lloyd Wright at a comparatively affordable price.
According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, this particular home is one of five by McDonald that was designed and built in Brookfield, although his body of work stretches from Utah to New York. He also reportedly designed homes for celebrities, such as Mickey Mantle, James Garner, and Maureen O'Hara. To see photos of this property, currently listed for $369,000, click here.
The Price Tower in Bartlesville received national attention recently when it was one of 16 structures included on CNN.com’s list of “Famous Buildings in the American South”. The website featured an architectural tour of must-see buildings and landmarks and touted Frank Lloyd Wright’s world-renown Price Tower as one of his most influential designs.
Price Tower Executive Director Rick Loyd said the team at Price Tower was elated about the designation. “We are so pleased to hear the tower is part of this impressive list,” Loyd said. “When a national media giant such as CNN identifies the uniqueness and important aspects of Price Tower, it’s a great reminder to visitors near and far that it’s worth your time to see what the tower is all about.”
In the portion of the story featuring Price Tower, CNN writer Forrest Brown refers to the building as the only skyscraper designed by noted “horizontalist” Frank Lloyd Wright. He outlines the tower’s original intended location in New York City and its coming to life in the mid 1950s as headquarters for a pipeline construction company located in Bartlesville. Brown then enlightens readers on Wright’s poetic, nature-based tree design with the Tower’s “trunk” (elevator shafts and structural walls) serving as support for “branches” (concrete slabs) that extend outward — and the Tower’s “leaves” being the copper panels and sun louvers.
Price Tower houses a 19 guest room boutique inn, Copper Restaurant + Bar and and a free art gallery open seven days a week. Historic tours of the iconic Tower are offered daily and more information can be found at PriceTower.org. To read the entire list of buildings featured, click here.
Write on Wright features an interview by Brian R. Hannan with author, Bob Hartnett, whose book ‘Frank Lloyd Wright’s $10,000 Home’ is about the home Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Emil and Anna Bach.
Taking a page from his tour guide training, Hartnett said, “My original thought for the book was to describe who Emil and Anna were and how they came to build their house with Wright as their architect. I also decided to briefly discuss the other owners so that readers would get a sense of who lived in the house.
“I did feel it was important to describe the efforts former owners took to secure the house and those who changed the house from the way Wright had designed it. I closed the book with a description of the restoration.”
Hartnett, 64, is a retired public works administrator for the city of Rolling Meadows. He said his “passing interest” in Wright grew as he learned more about the Wisconsin-born architect and the opportunity to lead tours at his home and studio in the Chicago suburbs.
“I thought this might be a fun thing to do, and I signed up,” Hartnett said. “I enjoy interacting with the guests and being able to share interesting stories about an incredible man and a beautiful home. This book grew out of that love and desire to extend my outreach and appreciation even further.”
To read the entire interview, click here. “Frank Lloyd Wright’s $10,000 Home: History, Design and Restoration of the Bach House”, published in 2019 by Hilton Publishing Co. and Master Wings. Purchase the book here.