Artist Andrew Pielage’s photographs of Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings, temples, churches, and homes reveal how the architect masterfully creates an experience that feels sanctified and sacred. Viewed as part of the tour of Taliesin West, the exhibition Sacred Spaces consists of more than 30 large-scale images and allows visitors to draw comparisons while also contrasting the distinctive features of these structures designed by Wright. Experience Sacred Spaces on a tour through January 29, 2023. Get more details and your tickets here.
Ian Volner of Architecture Today describes how the home of Rudolph Schindler, the Vienna-born architect, was, at the time, the cultural Wild West of the United States. Having been dispatched to LA by Frank Lloyd Wright, Schindler put down roots and put out a shingle for himself, then turned his private home into the center of operations for his mission to turn Tinseltown into a mecca for Modernism in art and architecture.
The house’s design opened up a key front in this larger battle. Los Angeles in the second decade of the 20th century was, in the words of author Nathaniel West, a “dream dump,” a vast and dismal “Sargasso” of poorly-constructed, poorly-furnished homes unconvincingly stylized in shades of Tudor, French Renaissance, and the ubiquitous Spanish Mission. The incursions of Schindler, Wright, and Irving Gill had thus far only begun to strike a blow for good taste; by 1922, having spent the last two years as the grand old Chicagoan’s designated West Coast factotum, Schindler decided it was time to make a gesture of his own.
Pinwheel in plan, with multiple spokes protruding outward into the landscape, the Kings Road house is a confounding whirl of private and public, work spaces and social spaces, with garden courtyards penetrating inwards towards the central node. The planar and spatial complexity marks Schindler’s first assault on the plodding processional normalcy of the prevailing residential scene; the program presses the attack, breaking up the typical domestic arrangement with a two-family, communal living arrangement centered around a shared kitchen and dining space.
Clerestory windows and canvas partitions condition the light, which filters down to splash across the burnished concrete floors. The gardens surround the house, and a high hedge surrounds the garden, giving the whole place a feeling of total campestral seclusion. Worlds away from the typical houses of its time, the house is also a world unto itself, less like a building one enters than like a kaleidoscope held to one’s eye, now brown and yellow, now grey and green. Read the entire article by clicking here.
When Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava was hired to design an addition for the Milwaukee Art Museum in December 1994, he was 43 years old and though not unknown, he hadn’t yet seen any of his works built in the U.S. and had little name recognition here.
But nearly immediately after his stunning Quadracci Pavilion was completed in 2001, everyone began calling it “The Calatrava” and his fame in Milwaukee was – just like his avian structure – cemented into the city’s collective consciousness. Bobby Tanzilo of Milwaukee Talks interviewed Calatrava when he returned to celebrate in delayed fashion the 20th anniversary of the October 2001 opening of the addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum.
When asked how familiar he was with Milwaukee when he got the invitation to come and do this project, Calatrava replied, "I knew the area and a little bit the spirit of the area through my studies, and studying the work of Frank Lloyd Wright particularly, and also (Louis) Sullivan. I knew that this area was a ferment of interesting architecture."
"I knew also that Mies van der Rohe who was born in, I think, in Aachen, and came here and establish in the post-war time in Chicago, and has now made an important contribution."
"Mostly it was the figure of Frank Lloyd Wright, you see, who has here in the city a home he designed, and also he has also the church, the Greek Orthodox church, very important buildings both, I visit them." Read the article and see the photos here.
Even though there were more than a few less-than-glowing reviews of the film Don’t Worry Darling, even the film’s harsher critics agree that Olivia Wilde’s second directorial feature is visually impressive, chock-full of gorgeous Palm Springs vistas, swinging Eisenhower-era fashions, and more than a few excellent examples of Mid-Century architecture.
Chief among those architectural marvels is Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann Desert House, which the celebrated modernist architect built in 1946 for Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr. (the same Pittsburgh department store mogul that charged Frank Lloyd Wright with designing Fallingwater). The International Style structure plays off the nearby San Jacinto mountains using walls of windows that thoughtfully frame vistas and natural materials such as sandstone and birch-veneered plywood. Vertical aluminum louvers protect the various wings from harsh desert temperatures and create a strong connection between the inside and outdoors.
Neutra novices might recognize the home’s adjacent poolside pavilion from photographer Slim Aarons’s quintessential 1970s photo, "Poolside Gossip," which featured a couple of mod, bubble-haired socialite types perched on lounge chairs while in candid conversation. A writer for the New York Times once said the image "has become as much a symbol of modernism" as its setting. Olivia Wilde certainly did. As she told Variety, the director actually had a print of Aarons’s photo on her wall when she was beginning work on Don’t Worry Darling, and had visions of using the home as a model for the film’s set design.
But it wasn’t until she and production designer Katie Byron started to scout for locations in Palm Springs that location manager Chris Baugh told them they might actually be able to shoot there. Prior to Don’t Worry Darling, no Hollywood productions had been allowed to shoot in the architecturally significant residence, which is designated a Class 1 Historic Site by Palm Springs City Council. Baugh, however, had made headway with the home’s longtime owners, Brent and Beth Harris, through an acquaintance and thought he might be able to get Wilde and company in to at least see the space. (The Harrises, he a financial executive and she an architectural historian, bought the house in the early 1990s, but sold it this May to an undisclosed owner for a reported $13 million.)
Baugh did manage to convince the owners to let them use the Kaufmann House as a filming location; it’s actually where the first day of shooting on Don’t Worry Darling took place. In the run-up to the shoot, Byron and her team toured the home several more times to prepare, which she says led her to develop an even greater love of Neutra’s work. "When you prep a location, you spend a lot of time there," Byron explains. "You keep going back and measuring details and looking at every single nook and cranny of the place in order to create plans for the art department. A lot of that time, we were also studying all of the details like every little piece of hardware." More here.
Steeply graded home lots seem to suit architect Robert Harvey Oshatz. To build on such parcels, homes are designed to cantilever over slopes, offering exceptional views. The residences seem to soar and can appear untethered, existing in the air. It's an Oshatz signature refined during 50-plus years of work: architecture that looks to have been manifested out of the ether. Stunning architecture is born from such challenges, including Oshatz's 3,500-square-foot home, originally built as a speculation project. The home, with expansive views of the Willamette River and Mount Hood, is elevated at such a pitch that Oshatz looks down on soaring geese, ducks, bald eagles and other winged creatures. "I wanted to capture that feeling of defying gravity in the structure," Oshatz says. "But at the same time, psychologically, I wanted to feel secure and comfortable." Read more here.