Posts tagged with "Frank Lloyd Wright":
“The building has been home to DTC since its opening in 1959, and the renovation efforts aim to preserve the theater’s distinct architecture while equipping it to inspire a new generation. A steering committee made up of diverse community stakeholders selected Diller Scofidio + Renfro after a thorough selection process, and the firm —with DTC—also will create a master plan for the nine-acre Kalita Humphreys site, which will include new theater spaces and a connection to the Katy Trail.”Completed several months after Wright’s death, the Kalita Humphreys Theater is one of the final projects designed by the influential American architect. The design was technically conceived, however, decades earlier for another theater company in a project that was ultimately never realized. The theater was subsequently adapted for its current Dallas site, perched on a heavily wooded bluff above Turtle Creek, when then-fledgling regional theater company DTC approached Wright to design a venue. At the time he claimed he was too busy to design something new, and suggested that DTC use the never-completed design. The theater is named after a local actress who perished in a plane crash in 1954—a year before construction kicked off—and whose parents made a significant donation to DTC to ensure the building would be named in her memory. The building famously features a revolving stage that, in the words of DTC, “exemplifies Wright’s Organic Theory of architecture,” which stressed the unification of the building’s form and function.” The theater, which has suffered through shoddy previous renovations and years of general negligence, was declared a City of Dallas Historic Landmark Structure in 2007. In 2009, DTC relocated its administrative offices from the languishing Wright-designed building along Turtle Creek to the newly-built Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, designed by REX | OMA, at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in downtown Dallas. The Tony Award-winning organization currently stages performances at both venues. As detailed by DTC, the master plan will entail general restoration work of Wright’s deteriorating main building as well as the creation of two new, smaller performance venues to be used by other regional theater companies. The theater will also be further incorporated into the surrounding natural landscape. “By creating new spaces and opening up the site, the new master plan will boost the natural beauty of the theater’s surroundings and improve its ability to serve as a welcoming, accessible space for all,” said DTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty. Texas-born Charles Renfro, working in collaboration with his partners at DS+R, will lead the project. He remarked in DTC’s announcement that:
“As a native Texan, I am particularly excited to contribute to our state’s architectural heritage and partner with Dallas Theater Center, whose bold productions are equally matched by their bold commitment to architectural innovation. This project is an opportunity to restore the Kalita Humphreys—one of Dallas’s most overlooked pieces of architecture—to its rightful place in the pantheon of design masterpieces in the city. Not only is it Frank Lloyd Wright’s only built theater, but it has also made significant contributions to the way theater has been presented and seen. “Since it was built, the theater’s bucolic setting between Turtle Creek and the Katy Trail has been overwhelmed by parking lots and roadways. Our approach will seek to slow the site down and add new architecturally significant programs grown out of the surrounding urban green. The Kalita Humphreys complex will be an idyllic and iconic refuge surrounded by nature, merely footsteps away from the bustling city.”DTC is slated to present a master plan developed by Renfro and his colleagues to the Dallas Office of Arts and Culture by the end of this year. The Dallas City Council will then vote to give the plan final approval. The public and various local stakeholders have been invited to attend an information session to be held on March 4 at the theater, and are encouraged to provide feedback. In sharing the news, Lamster pointed out that the involvement of a firm with such a high level of prestige as DS+R is agreeable, but they have a mixed track record when it comes to preservation-based projects. He mentioned the expansion of the Museum of Modern Art and the renovation of Lincoln Center, both in New York City, involved demolishing beloved nearby spaces—a neighboring museum and public plaza, respectively. In 2018, Lamster referred to the Kalita Humphreys theater as “the most neglected, misunderstood, and mismanaged building in Dallas.” Preservation architect Ann Abernathy of advocacy group Kalita Humphreys Theater at Turtle Creek Conservancy also expressed reservations, particularly with regard to the potential for overbuilding at such a bucolic site. She told the Dallas Morning News that: “The way they’re looking to sustain this property is to build more venues, and to build an income-producing garage, and an income-producing restaurant, and by the time they do that, they lose the economic value of a property of immense cultural importance.” The renovation's estimated budget has yet to be disclosed, but as Moriarty told the Dallas Morning News, he expects “it’s gonna be a lot.” “The final figure will be contingent on the master plan, which would then require the approval of the City Council. Once that happens we will move earnestly and aggressively into fundraising,” he said. While the Kalita Humphreys Theater is the only Wright-designed public building in Texas, he did design three private homes in the Lone Star State during the last decade of his career, including a Usonian house in Dallas that was featured in the 1996 Wes Anderson film Bottle Rocket. Another, located in Houston, hit the market in June 2019 with a price tag just shy of $3 million.
Over 500 drawings, blueprints, and related items of historical documentation are now publicly accessible for the first time, giving the public another method of exploring the home following the debut of its Virtual Accessibility Experience and the self-guided tours available to the public four days a week. The online archive adds a significant amount of history concerning the many renovations, restorations, architectural details, furnishing, and the building additions on the 36-acre property. “The Department of Cultural Affairs is thrilled for the opportunity to make this archive material available to those interested in Aline Barnsdall's vision and Frank Lloyd Wright's work,” said Danielle Brazell, general manager of the DCA, in a press release. “Viewing the collection gives anyone interested in the history of the property a deeper understanding.” While highlights include schematic site maps and perspective renderings from the architect himself, the public archive also contains plenty of minutia for the Wright-obsessed, including an electrical schedule blueprint and plenty of corbel details. The home was completed in 1921 for the art collector and socialite Aline Barnsdall, who gave it up to the city shortly afterward in 1927 under the condition that the California Art Club could use the site as its headquarters through a fifteen-year lease. After the club relocated in 1942, the site was renamed Barnsdall Park and has since hosted several public events and exhibition spaces, including the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG).View this post on Instagram
Today is a very special day at Barnsdall Art Park! Did you know that Frank Lloyd Wright started plans for @unesco World Heritage Site Hollyhock House exactly 100 years ago? To celebrate this huge milestone, @hollyhockhouse is unveiling a digital archive of original drawings and blueprints for online study via their website. Check out their IG story to see highlights, or click on the link in our bio to view the complete set of 81 images. Pictured here: Elevations (detail), courtesy Hollyhock House Archive
“It is not enough to leave behind you monuments of buildings, you owe it to future generations to leave monuments of human beings” - Olgivanna Lloyd Wright
The imminent closure of the School of Architecture at Taliesin has left its student body stunned and deeply distraught. To discontinue 88 years of an alternative pedagogical model is at least as destructive as the demolition of a physical architectural masterwork. To close this school is to dismantle one of the great visions and traditions of the past century; and to preserve the culture that sustains a built environment such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin is equivalent in importance to any material evidence of history. A building is merely a shell if void of those who keep its legacy alive.
Beyond losing our school we are losing our home, our deeply interwoven community, and the chance to pursue our education at a truly unique, experimental institution: A platform designed to express pedagogy as a way of life. As graduate students in the year 2020, we have been incredibly fortunate to experience an education that transcends the classroom. At the School of Architecture at Taliesin, we live in shelters in the Sonoran Desert built by our colleagues and predecessors. We wake with the sun beaming over the mountain and the choir of the quails. We cook meals for each other, enjoying the bonds of communal living which have united humans throughout history and which are increasingly rare in our culture today. On the same day that we might troubleshoot a 3D printer, we troubleshoot fires to keep warm at night. The experience of living fundamentally with nature and with each other, literally building the roofs over our own heads while learning current software and design methodologies, is profound and represents what it means to be a student here. This community of Taliesin students, along with our esteemed Fellows and alumni, are the living embodiment of a legacy.
Designing an architectural education as a holistic approach to life was part of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fellowship from its inception, and is the way he and Olgivanna Lloyd Wright, who played a coequal role in the development of the Fellowship, intended for the legacy to be maintained. From the beginning of the Taliesin Fellowship in 1932, “the apprentices participated in the construction, operation, and maintenance of the school, including raising the food which sustained them.” The notion that the Taliesin campuses would cease to be a training ground for future architects is antithetical to the ethos of the Wrights’ creation. It would be a powerful loss not only to their legacy but to the future of the profession itself. The philosophy of “learning by doing” is as consequential as ever, in an era in which architectural theory and practical knowledge are increasingly divorced. The education at the School of Architecture at Taliesin bridges this critical gap.
From our perspective, the destruction of this profound legacy and jewel in the American cultural landscape is a preventable disaster. The end of this great institution is not a foregone conclusion, and we feel the results of this outcome do not reflect the best interests of the school, its students and faculty, and the vision of Frank Lloyd Wright.
We are exceedingly grateful to all of the individuals and institutions who have reached out to extend their support and offers of opportunity moving forward, and we look forward to new relationships blossoming as a result of this tragic fissure. However, we feel that there is no replacement for what will be lost in closing the School of Architecture at Taliesin, and no other experience that replicates what we sought in coming here. We have made this educational investment in order to earn our Master of Architecture degrees, and a solution which does not include the conference of accredited degrees, such as staying at Taliesin through a non-accredited program, is no solution at all. The alternative transition to finish our degrees elsewhere is not only disruptive to the fabric of our lives as individuals and as a community but deprives many of us of the opportunity to realize the education in which we have invested so deeply.
The School of Architecture at Taliesin is a seed, planted in a living soil: this is the unique condition that generates visionary architects, with sustainable ethics and sensibilities. We feel a deep calling to speak on behalf of not only ourselves, but of the many people who have built this community over past generations and who continue to embody its ideals of operating collectively, locally, and intelligently to support one another. In Wright’s own sentiments “[people] derive countenance and sustenance from the ‘atmosphere’ of the things they live in or with. They are rooted in them just as a plant is in the soil.”
If this community and great tradition were to be uprooted, it is not only the constituents of the school who will suffer but the idealism and altruism that are woven into one of Wright’s most outstanding creations.