Here's the last reminder! Don't miss the Wright Sites —x— PechaKucha '22 Live-Stream tonight. The Westcott House, Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, and PechaKucha HQ are teaming up for the fourth edition of a live online global event highlighting Wright's work and legacy.
The free virtual event, scheduled for Wednesday, September 14th, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. EDT, will feature Wright homeowners, curators and scholars. Presentations will be given in the highly visual and dynamic PechaKucha format, which consists of 20 image-based slides that automatically advance after 20 seconds, so each talk lasts only 400 seconds. Follow the link to get more details and view the event tonight.
Although Frank Lloyd Wright reportedly referred to the unique Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church as “my little jewel,” he never got to see it anywhere but on paper, and, of course, in his imagination according to Bobby Tanzilo of "Urban Spelunking."
The church, located at 9200 W. Congress St, will be open again as part of Historic Milwaukee Inc.’s annual Doors Open Milwaukee, on Saturday, Sept, 24.
One of Wright’s last designs – along with New York’s Guggenheim Museum – Annunciation is rooted in Greek Orthodox tradition, but with a decidedly modern twist. While a few things at the church have changed over the years – the icons on the altar screen were replaced with more traditional examples (the originals are hanging downstairs), the planned stained glass windows were, indeed, ultimately installed, and the blue roof tile was removed (except on the entry arch, which is somewhat protected from the elements) – much remains the same. The seats and even their Naugahyde cushions have been there since the building opened on July 2, 1961, and so has the gold carpet.
Like many of Wright’s works – including SC Johnson and Wingspread in Racine – the building was designed with a low-ceiling entrance, here called a narthex, that opens into a large stunning space, creating the architect's trademark feeling of "compression and release."
In this case that space is a church based in Greek Orthodox tradition and its traditional equilateral Byzantine cross, which is represented in ways big and small, both obvious and less so.
Take for example the three striking light towers. “There are 12 clusters for the apostles going through the pole with equilateral sides of the Byzantine cross design, and each cluster has three sections: Father, Son, Holy Spirit,” explains church member and tour guide Catherine Spyres, whose father, Judge Christ Seraphim, was the member who suggested initially Wright for the project. “So even in the placement of the light bulbs you see the cross within the circle and that's the theme ... our central focus.”
The floor plan also references the cross, and the number of pews (the ends of which are shaped like fish) and, well, pretty much everything at Annunciation, has some religious significance. For more of the interesting history of the church, and the Frank Lloyd Wright's designed building, and especially, to see the photos and renderings, click here.
The Vandamm House moved movie villains inside the sleek spaces of modern architecture. Christine Madrid French of Vanity Fair suggests that Alfred Hitchcock was one of the first major directors to co-opt the essential features of modernist design and turn those characteristics into totems representing the calculated fervor of a malevolent genius, and reconstructed the essential character of the screen villain.
In North by Northwest, Hitchcock’s team revealed these two new archetypes fully fledged for contemporary moviegoers, pairing a modern villain with a mid-20th-century modern building. This cinematic-architectural marriage of patron and design was so successful that it has been fully typecast as a storytelling device. In the years afterward, production designers, screenwriters, and directors recruited actual houses to play the part of the villain’s lair, drawing from a proliferation of modern designs in Southern California created by architects such as John Lautner, Richard Neutra, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Other creators designed fantastical modernist hideaways that existed only on film and in matte paintings.
The building that changed movies forever makes its first appearance almost two hours into North by Northwest and is onscreen a mere 14 minutes. Filmic structures are “evanescent as a flicker of light,” as noted by historian Alan Hess. Nonetheless, this design had a penetrating and lasting effect in the public consciousness. The Vandamm House itself is now a movie star with its own dedicated legion of fans. The high-quality production design of the film, and the hybrid mixing of recognizable locations with studio sets, led to many inquiries as to the “real” location of the home. Explorations in the area behind Mount Rushmore would prove futile, however, as the building is entirely conjectural, a set created by production designer Robert F. Boyle at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Los Angeles.
The pioneering decision to feature a modern house as the villain’s lair in North by Northwest arose from both the practical needs of the script and the desire to explore innovation in architectural representation. The building had to frame key story elements while visually articulating the villain’s character. Boyle’s sketches for the overall look of the Vandamm House demonstrate a well-developed modernist sensibility, with an emphasis on horizontality and an intimate relationship between the building and the natural site. The house is created from stone, wood, and glass, much like the nearby visitor center at the Mount Rushmore national monument. The house plan is asymmetrical and accented by a series of interpenetrating roof planes. The entryway is formal, rectilinear, and enclosed, whereas the interior living area is expansive and transparent, contained in a glass box balanced on structural beams over the valley below. This combination of spaces is in line with the physical sensation of compression and release articulated by Wright. In his work, he promoted designs that pushed people through an entryway to heighten the effect of entering the larger volumes of the living area. Even on film, this feeling of architectural movement translates to the audience.
In fact, inspiration for the style and form of the Vandamm House traces directly back to the work of Wright. Boyle and Hitchcock both referred to Wright’s work as the design prototype for the house, and screenwriter Ernest Lehman confirmed this architectural legacy, describing it in the script as a “sprawling modern structure in the Frank Lloyd Wright tradition set on a rise in the land at the end of a long driveway.” In an interview with fellow filmmaker Truffaut, Hitchcock mentioned that the building was “a miniature of a house by Frank Lloyd Wright that’s shown from a distance.” A popular anecdote holds that Hitchcock first inquired with Wright about designing the fictional house, but the director could not afford the master architect’s costs of design and construction. Read the entire article here.
Guests can eat, drink and enjoy music at Bourbon, Brisket & Blues, presented by the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Laurent House in Rockford, Illinois, on Saturday, September 24. The event will be held on the back terrace of the Laurent House from 4 to 7 p. m. and includes tours of the Laurent House.
Brisket with sides will be supplied by Pitmaster Little Nick’s BBQ with bourbon tasting provided by Artale. The first drink is complimentary but others will be available from Baker Street Burgers. BMR4 Blues Machine, a three-piece blues band from Chicago, will entertain with live music.
Tickets are $100 per person. Dress will be business casual/garden party attire. In celebration of the style of Frank Lloyd Wright and Olgivanna Wright, it is suggested that men were a pork pie hat, Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature, and women wear straw sun hats. Sensible shoes are suggested to walk the terrain of the backyard.
Parking and shuttle service will be located at Womanspace and Cor Mariae Center, 3333 Maria Linden Drive. No parking is available at the Laurent House or on neighboring streets. More information here.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy shares the news that Susan Jacobs Lockhart, a beloved long-time member of the FLWBC board and Taliesin Fellowship member who dedicated herself to living, enriching, and preserving the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright, passed away on August 22, 2022. Susan was able to see her childhood home, the Jacobs House in Madison, Wisconsin, inscribed in 2019 on the World Heritage list as part of The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.
As a member of the Talieisn Fellowship, Susan became one of the primary graphic designers for TAA, was part of the senior teaching faculty and a beloved mentor to many students. She was the director of the bi-annual Taliesin Day Symposium and Program Coordinator for arts and cultural events. She was arguably the most prominent face of Taliesin to the outside world, connecting people to the community and vice versa. In that role, she served on the boards of Jazz in Arizona, the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, the Wisconsin Rural Musicians Forum, and the American Players Theater in Spring Green.
Read more about Susan's wonderfully creative life at the FLWBC website here.
Compared with world-famous contemporary Wright designs such as Fallingwater, the first Jacobs House and the Hanna House, the Abby Longyear Roberts House in Marquette, MI, is relatively unknown. The project was first proposed in late 1935 and is dated 1936, at the same time Wright was working on these other projects, but the Roberts House, sheltered in the north Michigan woods, has remained comparatively unstudied.
On Wednesday, August 10, 2022, Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy preservation programs manager John Waters made a visit to the house, also known as "Deertrack," to meet with Abby Roberts’ descendants who currently own the house. They discussed the future of the house and much was learned about its past. John made a thorough photographic record of the house and investigated its current condition. Approaches to restoration and renovation were also discussed. The house has been much altered over the years, but once one starts exploring it, Wright’s original design becomes easily visible. Following up on the visit, John shared a written assessment of the house. This assessment included a preliminary analysis of the house as built and an outline of subsequent alterations, as well as a review of primary areas of the house that need attention. Read more here.