2017 ended on a sad note with news reaching us that Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice, archivist, and author, Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, passed away on December 31.
As noted on the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation's Instagram page...
"Through his work as the steward of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives, and as an author of more than 50 works about Wright and his architecture, Bruce was a sustaining force in ensuring that the legacy of Wright’s work and words are available to all of us, and to future generations.
Bruce joined the Taliesin Fellowship in 1949, where he worked as an apprentice until 1956 when he left to study at the École Nationale Superiéure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Following Wright’s death in 1959, Bruce became the director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives, where he catalogued the collections of Wright’s drawings, manuscripts, letters, and other documents. Through this work, Bruce became the consummate resource for information on Wright’s legacy. His invaluable assistance in providing archival materials aided the work of many in the fields of historic preservation and architecture scholarship.
Bruce did much more than collect Wright’s materials in the archives; he also collected them for such critical works to Wright scholarship, including the five volumes of Frank Lloyd Wright: Collected Writings (1992); three massive volumes of photographs and drawings in Frank Lloyd Wright: The Complete Works (2009); and his most recent book, The Life of Olgivanna Lloyd Wright (2017). Of Taliesin West, Bruce said “I have never lost the feeling I first had coming up that curved driveway in 1949. I wasn’t going somewhere, I was returning somewhere.” Taliesin West became, and remained, Bruce’s home, and his construction of Wright’s Jester House design on our campus is a highlight for many of our tours. (It is and shall remain known as the Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer House at Taliesin West.)
His loss is deeply felt by the Taliesin community. Along with Wright admirers across the globe, we will be forever grateful for his contributions to architecture, scholarship, and the preservation of Wright’s legacy."
Tributes were quick to pour in, including a very special photo montage of Bruce posted on Mark Hertzberg's Wright in Racine blog.
Thank you, Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, for all you've done for Mr. Wright's legacy and for being a wonderful friend. Read more.
One of the last things that Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer wrote was an essay for the Journal of Organic Architecture + Design on his beloved circular desert home, based on Frank Lloyd Wright's original design for Ralph Jester. It's a poignant first-hand account of the Pfeiffer Residence's history, creation, and a life beautifully lived within its circular walls. Read more.
Patrick Quinn is a Lake Geneva native who is the University Archivist Emeritus at Northwestern University. In this article he waxes poetic about his past in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. He includes:
"I miss the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hotel Geneva (1911) that was located on the north side of the lake’s outlet where the Geneva Towers is today. I miss it not only because of its architectural eminence, but also because as an underage teenager I used to go to the bar in the basement of the hotel where the bartender, Bugs Moran’s son, would serve me a long neck bottle of beer every time I placed a quarter on the bar’s counter." Read more.
Blair Kamin recently reminded us in one of his Chicago Tribune articles how fortunate we are to have Tim Samuelson—official Cultural Historian for the City as well as all around walking encyclopedia for its colorful past. Tim does it all with a wink and a smile as generous as he is. Follow the link to learn more about our resident master storyteller. Read more.
Shelby Deering of Clever says that while researching Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonia, he had the realization that the design tenets still hold up today. Highlighting Wright's principals, Deering tell us how to apply them to our home designs. Read more.
The historic Burnham Block, located at 2714 W. Burnham St. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is home to a rare group of Frank Lloyd Wright’s American System-Build Homes. Constructed between 1915-1916 by Arthur L. Richards, the Burnham Block designs consist of two bungalows and four duplexes; considered early examples of prefabricated housing. The models symbolize the challenge faced by Wright to create beautiful and affordable spaces, and an example of his devotion to creating affordable housing. The original six homes designed by Wright and built in the Burnham Park neighborhood were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
The organization, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block, Inc. focuses exclusively on the Burnham Block historic site. They are planning more restorations, expanded programming, and the creation of necessary space to house their educational programs. Read more.
A Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired "Fireproof" house that seems to have been taken almost directly from an early 20th century design that Wright produced for the Ladies’ Home Journal is for sale in Mamaroneck, New York.
Susan De Vries of Brownstoner writes, "the Mamaraneck house is based on a Wright design that appeared in the April 1907 issue of the magazine as “A Fireproof House for $5,000.” Calling for the house to be built of concrete meant, according to Wright, that “a structure of this type is more enduring than if carved intact from solid stone.” Construction costs for the house, if built in Chicago, were estimated at $5,300, including plumbing, wiring and painting. Full construction plans were available upon request for 10 percent of the cost of the house." Read more.
AZ Big Media notes that Frank Lloyd Wright was an architect ahead of his time, with an approach to design that defied convention and, decades after his death, still defines how we build and live in America.
Taliesin West, Wright's winter home and studio, served as a laboratory for some of his most innovative ideas including the open floor plan concept for bringing families together, creating harmony with nature by bringing the outdoors in through indoor/outdoor living, and exploring the practice of shared use, a concept embraced today by companies like Uber and Airbnb. Determined to change the way we live by what he coined as “organic architecture,” Wright once said his approach to design makes it “quite impossible to consider the building as one thing, its furnishing another and its setting and environment still another.” Many of Wright’s once radical ideas that are now commonplace today. Read more.
December 30, 2017 marked the 80th anniversary of the telegram sent by Frank Lloyd Wright to the Fellowship in Wisconsin, telling apprentices of the new site in Arizona that would later become Taliesin West. The Whirling Arrow gives us an excerpt titled “The Conquest of the Desert,” that was taken from the fifth section of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “An Autobiography". Read it here.