Realizing a Wright

After purchasing an 11 acre island in New York, Joe and Barbara Massaro were pleasantly surprised to discover that their new acquistion was the site for an unbuilt Frank Lloyd Wright home. In an article that’s more of a letter-letter to mac’s and Archicad, we learn how architect and Wright scholar Thomas A. Heinz painfully recreated the master’s drawings and did his best to interpret Wright’s intentions – a difficult task considering that the only documentation of the house was in the form of an eighth-inch-scale plan, section, and three elevations.

It’s an interesting article and makes a good argument for the utilization of BIM systems. Heinz used modern technology to stay true to Wright’s methods and planning. Although other Wright designs have been built posthumously, this would be the first since the architect’s death to be built exactly on the site for which it was intended, and very much like Fallingwater, the power and beauty of this house lies in its relationship to the immediate context.

Also, check out the trailer for “Building Wright,” an upcoming documentary focusing on the realization of the Massaro project. – No Place Like (this) Home

Frank Lloyd Wright posts [Life Without Buildings]

Tales from Taliesin

Finally. I have internet. The past few days have been pretty strange. Normally, I get most of my news from the internet – reading papers online, blogs, journals, etc. – but recently my only information source was the television and its many 24 hour news stations. Until now, I had no idea there was so much of a difference between the two forms of media. For days, It was nearly impossilbe to find any solid informatiion regarding my return to new orleans, or any solid information about anything. Sure, if I needed to see shocking pictures of drastic flooding and helicopter rescues, i’d go to the television…but i’m over that. Your heart can only be broken so many times. Most of this is probably old news to anyone reading this, but it was quite the realization for me. It’s never been quite so clear just how far removed the televised media is.

Anyway. that’s not why you read this blog. That is, if there’s anyone left who still reads this blog. On my recent cross-country jaunt I found myself in phoenix and made a stop at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Snowbird Hide-a-way, Taliesin West. (Taliesin West, by the way, is also the name of my prototype band franchise.) More and more, I’m finding that I love Frank Lloyd Wright. He deserves all the praise and acclaim he’s recieved.

A Welsh word, “Taliesin” means “shining brow,” so named because it sits on the brown of a hill overlooking a valley below. It was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, school, and studio. Started in 1937 by his apprentices, whose construction skills are evidetn throughout the complex, it is constructed almost entirely of materials found on or near the site. Taliesin West is very um..loosely assembled, to put it nicely. I loved seeing the crooked and splintering beams and loose mortars. FLW wanted it to be a place of the earth and a place where his apprentices could learn by doing. The building stands as a testament to his wish, and any flaws only make it more beautiful.

Statue marking the entrance to the compound. It looks like something FLW could have designed, but I’m not sure and the tour guide was also clueless. There was a lot of art at Taliesin but this was the only statue that I really liked. The other objects were mostly cheap ceramic sculptures bought in Japanese markets.

The rear of the building. This area is currently home to Taliesin Architects – a firm charged with continuing the design legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright. I expected TW to be frozen in time, museum-like, but it is an incredibly active place. Besides Taliesin Architects, it is also used by The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and it remains the summer studio for the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

The front door – infamously understated and adorned with kitschy asian sculpture.

The living room area. I loved the scale of this room. Thoughtfully proportioned and comfortable without being overbearing. Most of the rooms originally used only canvas panels for ceiling enclosure. Unfortunately, the canvas doesn’t hold up in the harsh dessert environment and has to be replaced often. I forget the numbers listed by the tour guide, but Taliesin West is incredibly expensive to preserve and maintain.

One last shot. All the water features on the site are fed by a series of wells designed by Wright. The bottled water sold in the gift shop, however, was not drawn from these wells. Stay tuned for more from the trip.

Unbuilt Works Find Life in Art

Manhattan Guardian and Seven Soldiers are two new comic books from Scottish writer Grant Morrison. The New York Times reports that the comics are noteworthy not only for the gritty realism and compelling ideas that Morrison always brings to the table, but also for their representation of a Manhattan that could have been. A veritable feast for conceptual design buffs, Morrison’s New York is filled with unbuilt proposals from some of histories most noteworthy architects. Frank Lloyd Wright’s unbuilt Ellis Island Key project, for instance – shown here in the comic and in FLW’s original drawing (click for larger images). If you look close enough, the fictional Manhattan skyline also includes an unbuilt office tower by Hans Hollein, an elevated highway long supported by uber-planner Rober Moses, and a hotel proposed by Antonio Gaudi – a tower that some wanted to be built on the WTC site.

The article reminded me of Wim Wenders’ ficitonal Paris in his phenomenal 1991 film Until the End of The World This epic adventure takes place in a not too distant future that includes as part of the Parisian skyline, Jean Nouvel’s unbuilt ‘La Tour Sans Fin.’ Planned for La Defense, Nouvel’s tower was an elegant spire whose transparency increased as it rose, until it appeared to dissolve into the sky. I seem to remember reading in a Nouvel monograph that the contextual presentation rendering was so realistic, some people believed it already existed.

So Where is Gotham City?