The objective of organic architecture is simple: honor nature. In this way it’s less of a style and more of an ideology—buildings shouldn’t take away from their natural surroundings, but should rather be integrated within and in service to their landscapes. The term is often credited to Frank Lloyd Wright, though as the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation explains, it was a concept he struggled to fully define throughout his lifetime. Even to this day there are varying interpretations: Some see it as the use of natural materials or an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living, while others understand it as structures designed following forms found in nature. “All of these interpretations have a basis in Wright’s words, and of course in his works, and so organic architecture is at once all of these things,” the foundation explains. It’s cases like these that prove some philosophies are better expressed in examples rather than explanations. To that end, Architectural Digest surveys nine incredible expositions of organic architecture.
In the mid-1960s, Americans decided it was time to preserve their past. That’s when federal protective status was first granted to historic districts, including Charleston’s in South Carolina and the Vieux Carré in New Orleans, and in 1966, the National Register of Historic Places was created. But for all of the interest in preserving America’s meaningful landmarks, the midcentury sense of history was narrow in scope; preservationist zeal largely focused its efforts on buildings and districts established before the Gilded Age, with a particular emphasis on the Revolutionary Era. (For example, the first site placed on the register was Slater Mill in Rhode Island, built in the 1790s.) The 20th century wasn’t yet considered worth preserving.
That began to change after major works of more recent architecture were destroyed, including New York’s original Penn Station and Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler’s Garrick Theater in Chicago, which was leveled for a parking garage. The tide shifted in the early 1970s as preservationists and the surviving families of important American architects began to understand that if modern architecture wasn’t protected, then it would be perpetually endangered. And a significant change was spurred by the work of one architect in particular: Frank Lloyd Wright. Protecting his work was a paradigm shift in historic preservation and, in response, a number of organizations (foundations, a trust, and conservancies) were formed to protect individual buildings. The result today is a web of nonprofits that effectively own different pieces of Wright and his work, sometimes with competing visions for his legacy and what it entails. This patchwork approach isn’t specific to Wright, but as arguably the most famous American architect, he produced work that is effectively the model for protecting architectural landmarks in the United States—for better and for worse.
Wright died in 1959, leaving behind a vast body of work scattered throughout the nation after executing over 500 buildings in his lifetime. Despite his fame, Wright’s work wasn’t immune to the urban reshaping that led to the destruction of many 20th- century landmarks. The Chicago home he designed and built for Oscar and Katherine Steffens, for instance, was demolished in 1963, making way for a housing development, and other works of his were torn down in his lifetime. Protecting Wright’s work, however, was a complicated endeavor. Most of his work was in private hands, and homeowners like the Steffenses were free to sell to the highest bidder, regardless of architectural significance.
It became clear that if there wasn’t a concerted effort to protect Wright’s work, much of it would vanish, eroding not just our collective architectural inheritance but Wright’s reputation as well. In response, distinct groups of preservationists sought to protect his homes and workspaces—namely, his Oak Park Home and Studio in Illinois, Taliesin in Wisconsin, and Taliesin West in Arizona—but their interpretations of Wright’s legacy often differed. Follow the link to read the entire Dwell article.
In an always evolving city like Los Angeles, CA, where old houses, even those that bear some architectural distinction, are not infrequently razed to make way for larger, more modern homes, it’s rare for an almost untouched 80-year-old home designed by one of the world’s most revered architects to become available.
In the historic and historically Outpost Estates neighborhood that rises in a steep canyon above the western end of Hollywood, a 1941 residence by iconoclast architect R.M. Schindler described in marketing material as being in “original condition with minor alterations” has come to market with an asking price of $2.4 million. Brien Varady and Matthew Berkley at Compass hold the listing.
Known as the J.H. and Margaret Druckman House, after the original owners who commissioned it, the modestly sized residence is mostly obscured behind a thicket of mature greenery near the top of the canyon, where it meets Mulholland Drive. There are three bedrooms and two and a half baths, plus a study, in 1,662 square feet.
At the front door, a flat, cantilevered roof creates a tile-paved alfresco living space with an unadorned but notably oversized fireplace. Schindler used humble materials such as brick and rotary-cut plywood to great effect throughout the house. Vaulted ceilings add volume, and windows were strategically placed to harness light and provide glimpses of the sky via clerestory windows and open views over the leafy canyon thanks to vast planes of glass.
The main floor comprises a fireside living room, a dining area with plywood built-ins, and a galley kitchen with tile countertops on plywood cabinets. The kitchen’s original built-in dining banquette hovers just above the surrounding treetops.
There’s a powder room and a study just off the entrance, while the primary bedroom on the lower floor is joined by two guest bedrooms, both on the small side by today’s standard. The lower floor also includes a den, a laundry room, and two vintage bathrooms, one swaddled in lavender tile and the other with turquoise tile work around the tub/shower.
A balcony outside the dining area is complemented by a brick terrace that runs along the back of the house, overlooking an oval-shaped swimming pool placed in a shady glade and surrounded by handsome flag stone terracing.
Born and educated in Austria, Schindler moved to the U.S. in 1914 and later worked with other trailblazing icons of modern architecture, including Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra. (According to family lore, the pool at the Druckman residence was designed by Neutra.) Among Schindler’s most recognizable commissions are some of his earliest residential works as a solo practitioner, including his own home in West Hollywood and the Lovell Beach House on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach.
As the story goes, Frank Lloyd Wright was enduring a bit of a career slump in the late 1920s when his cousin, Tulsa Tribune publisher Richard Lloyd Jones, asked the legendary architect to create a home for him on what was then the southern outskirts of Tulsa, OK. One of only three Wright-designed structures in Oklahoma—including the Price Tower and Harold Price Jr. house—the textile block residence was built at a total cost of more than $100,000, or $60,000 over the original estimate.
Last sold to local developer Stuart Price of Price Family Properties for $2.5 million in October 2021—and subsequently restored and modernized, complete with extensive tweaks to the exterior, glasswork and landscaping—the notable property first popped up on the market in April asking a speck under $8 million. Now it’s being auctioned off with no reserve in collaboration with Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions, bidding expected to start between $1.5 million and $3.25 million.