Posts tagged with "Frank lloyd Wright":

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John Portman was an iconic Atlanta architect who redefined urban interiors

John Portman told me that when he was a little boy, he was so poor that he didn’t have any toys, so he played in his backyard by making imaginary cities out of mud piles and old glass Coca-Cola bottles. I recall going with him to the incredible artist’s foundry Polich Tallix in upstate New York to check on the progress of a sculpture he was creating for one of our projects in India. This massive sculpture was underway, and after looking it over, Dick Polich took Portman over to some clay forms he’d set up, and Portman started playing with them. He was like that. He just loved to create, and was in his zone when he did. There was a movie made about Portman by Ben Loeterman called A Life of Building, and in it, Portman kind of dramatically says, “It’s about life!” He’s obsessed with creating and sustaining life, in his architecture and in his way of being. Going down to his house Entelechy II, on Sea Island in Georgia, you can see it there, everywhere. The building is essentially a big trellis with a lanai under the front half and a sculpture of indoor and outdoor spaces in the back. But the entire home is teaming with life, plants, vines, blooming, living material everywhere. The building is probably his most formally complex project, but it almost seems foremost like an armature for the plants. It’s pretty well known among Portman’s family and the people in his companies that he was inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frank Lloyd Wright. The story of how a young John Portman went to see Wright when he came to Atlanta was told when he was eulogized last week. Portman told me that story about ten years ago, but he told it differently. And the difference tells you a lot about his personality. Portman said, “I heard the Great Master was coming to Atlanta. So, I went and stood in this huge line for hours and hours to see the Man. Finally, my turn came. He was sitting there, and I inched up to him and said, ‘I want to be an architect. What should I do?’ and after all this time in line, he looked at me and said, ‘Go seek Emerson.’ Pause…‘Next.’” Portman was funny, and humble, self-deprecating, and had a real admiration for people, like Wright and others. At the memorial, they left out the “Next,” and maybe that was appropriate for the somber nature of the event. But when you hear Portman tell the story, it’s funny and endearing to imagine him, this Great Master in his own right, being shooed away by Wright all those years ago. But he did seek Emerson. He found a way of living that was rooted in self-reliance, and an ecumenical appreciation for life that permeated his architecture and his relationships. He took a group of us to see Wright’s Fallingwater in 2012. I think it was his way of pointing us toward Emerson and Wright and helping us to see, feel, and experience firsthand some of what he knew. It was raining, and the house is pretty deep in the woods, and the one iconic view that you get in all the photos is from down in a ravine. Portman must have been 88 at the time, but he went blazing down there, all over the property. We spent time taking it all in, and then that evening he’d arranged a dinner where we all went around and talked about what we got out of it. He ran things that way, provoking everyone to bring their ideas forward and then guiding, editing, and compiling the best ideas from each person into a cohesive project. Portman was always soaking up ideas. He was curious. He had stacks of magazines on his desk and liked to stay current, but eschewed anything he considered a “trend.” Atlanta was his favorite city and the place he drew his power from, but Venice, Italy, was his second favorite. We went there to be part of the Venice Biennale in 2010 and see what was new. I recall Portman being very interested to see the exhibits and, in particular, what was in the Japanese pavilion. We got there and it was a very cacophonous installation that is almost the polar opposite of what I would consider “Portmanesque.” He looked in, puffed out his cheeks, kind of shrugged his shoulders and smiled as if to say, “What’s this crazy thing?” But then he went in and soaked it up and talked at length with the curator with a film crew in tow. He was open-minded and always respectful. He never criticized anyone and was thorough in giving the reasons for his decisions. It would have been easy for him to say, “Because I said so.” But he never did. I think he remained open to the idea that others would see things that maybe he hadn’t considered. One time when we were walking through the skyway of Sun Trust Plaza Tower after I crashed and burned in a meeting, he put his arm around my shoulder and said, “You know, if you have a great idea and you’re trying to persuade someone to do it, it’s usually better if they think it’s their great idea.” Portman understood people, how they think and feel, and was generous in sharing what he knew. Portman always looked to the future. He kept moving forward, even as we weathered the Great Recession, during which time he did not lay off a single person. He told me once that it’s easy to be positive when you’re up, but it’s more important to be positive when you’re down; advice he got from his mother, whom he revered. John Portman touched the lives of many people over the course of his long and productive career. He had an artist’s heart. He painted outside the lines, and we’ll miss him.
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Sister exhibitions explore architectural furniture at Friedman Benda in Chelsea

Architects are no strangers to designing furniture, as they often strive for a visual homogeny throughout the interior and exterior of their built projects. At Friedman Benda in Chelsea, Manhattan, the historical legacy of architectural furniture is celebrated with Inside the Walls: Architects Design alongside its ambiguous future with No-Thing: An exploration into aporetic architectural furniture. Guest curated by Mark McDonald, Inside the Walls charts milestone furniture design across the 20th century from both domestic and international architects. The extensive survey extracts pieces of furniture designed for site-specific installations and displays them alone and with other items, drawing attention to how the designer’s influence and intent still shines through. The show’s focus might jump from piece to piece, displaying furniture by everyone from Charles and Ray Eames to Luis Barragán, but a “clarity of vision” threads throughout all of them. For example, a Frank Gehry-designed rocking chaise made from cardboard contains the same swooping curves and exploration of form as his buildings. Likewise, the collection of chairs, tables, and lighting fixtures designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, despite their simplicity, are immediately recognizable as his. Wright is inarguably the centerpiece at Inside the Walls. The show displays ephemera from across the architect’s career and presents him as an auteur. Visitors can examine the cantilevering sets of outdoor lighting fixtures from Wright’s 1914 Francis W. Little House up close, then study furniture from his 1956 Price Tower without missing a beat. No-Thing is located in Friedman Benda’s basement project space, and puts new commissions from up-and-coming studios front and center. Curator Juan García Mosqueda assembled a group showcase under the guise of a furniture exhibition, with works that implore the viewer to project personal meaning on the furniture within. This “non-dogmatic approach to object creation” is in direct contrast to the rigid visions of Inside the Walls in the space above, creating the titular “no-thing,” a work that is bestowed value by its users. A seemingly normal table built from leftover construction materials (MOS Architects) mingles with a blacked-out mirror (Norman Kelley) that challenges the viewer to see much of anything, playing with preconceived notions of what to expect from that typology. No-Thing features work by Andy and Dave (Brooklyn), Ania Jaworska (Chicago), architecten de vylder vinck taillieu (Gent, Belgium), Leong Leong (New York), MILLIØNS (Los Angeles), MOS (New York), Norman Kelley (New York, Chicago), SO–IL (Brooklyn), and Pezo von Ellrichshausen (Chile). Both Inside the Walls and No-Thing are on display at Friedman Benda at 515 W. 26th St, until February 17.
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Wanted: Architectural historians to vet homes designed by famous architects

With the housing market tightening, and homes by big–name architects commanding a 5 to 10 percent premium over comparable buildings, both homeowners and prospective buyers are turning to architectural historians to tie their houses to iconic designers. As The Wall Street Journal notes, the practice isn’t without merit. A post-purchase debunking of a house sold on the merits of its architect can wipe out the building’s value, akin to a forged artwork. Even "new" homes by Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect whose projects have been catalogued in extreme detail by Chicago’s Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC), still surface regularly. William Allin Storrer, a Wright historian, explained the appeal of marketing a home as one designed by Wright to the WSJ. “It maybe raises a building’s value by a factor of five or more. A $160,000 home would be worth $1.5 million if it was by Wright.” The FLWBC and other preservation groups have tried to thoroughly vet the claims that come their way, as the sale of a Wright-designed home often makes the news. The circular Normal Lykes House in Phoenix, Arizona, was designed by Wright in 1959 shortly before his death, and has been written about extensively in the last few weeks after it was put up for sale. Los Angeles County in particular is rife with single-family homes that have dubious architectural pedigrees. Paul Revere Williams, a Los Angeles native and the first African American to gain admittance to the American Institute of Architects, and Julia Morgan, the first woman architect licensed in California, built homes throughout the state, but their work has not been extensively catalogued. As homeowners reach out to the historians and non-profit groups to verify their claims, any newly discovered buildings would help flesh out the canon of these architects’ work. If those claims aren't possible to prove, then as the The Wall Street Journal Reports, brokers will often list the home as "in the style of" one of these architects. Putting in extra effort to determine a home’s architectural authenticity is especially necessary to help protect consumers, as brokers and sellers attempt to make use of the added value that these labels can bring. For instance, it’s unlikely that Paul Rudolph, who was known for his brutalist projects, would have designed a sprawling estate with teal terraced roofs and a helipad.
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Frank Lloyd Wright’s second to last building was just demolished in Montana

Despite the best efforts of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC), the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Lockridge Medical Clinic building in Whitefish, Montana, was demolished late last night. The building, designed in 1958 and only realized in 1959 after Wright’s death, was unmistakably Usonian. The single-story, horizontally-oriented clinic building featured a generous overhang with a sculpted edge, interior and exterior brick, and a central hearth. The FLWBC notes that this is the first viable, or mostly un-altered, Wright building to be torn down in 40 years, and that it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the site had originally been purchased by developer Mick Ruis in 2016 and listed for sale last year, public interest in preserving the clinic grew once Ruis announced that if the building wasn’t sold by January 10th, it would be razed. The Montana Preservation Alliance and the FLWBC had been working together for over a year to raise the $1.7 million that Ruis was requesting, and allege that the demolition had moved forward despite putting in a realistic offer. The FLWBC claims that the offer submitted through 341 Central LLC, which was formed to purchase the building, was rebuked, as were their conditions to examine, or salvage, the remaining architectural elements. Ruis’ legal counsel, Ryan Purdy, told The Daily Beast that Ruis had already delayed the demolition timeline to give preservation groups more time to scrape together an offer. “The building has been for sale for over a year,” said Purdy. “It’s a little bit frustrating that there are all these people are rushing to get things done when we’ve had it posted for sale and we’ve been talking with interested parties for over a year.” Real estate prices in Whitefish have increased dramatically in recent years, and the town has been developing at a rapid pace to increase its density. A three-story, mixed-use building will be replacing the Lockridge Clinic, which in recent years had served as a clinic, bank, and finally, a lawyer’s office. With the Lockridge Clinic gone, the only remaining Wright buildings in Montana are the Writer’s Cabin and Farmhouse on the Alpine Meadows Ranch near the town of Darby. Both buildings, now used as luxury vacation rental homes, were designed in 1905 and come from the very beginning of Wright’s career. A video of the demolition can be viewed here.
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Frank Lloyd Wright and NYC’s first public housing development together in new exhibit

  This Friday, September 8, the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University's Manhattanville campus will open a new exhibition, Living in America: Frank Lloyd Wright, Harlem, & Modern Housing. Developed by Columbia GSAPP's Temple Hoyne Buell Center, the Wallach Art Gallery, and the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, the exhibition is presented in tandem with MoMA's current show Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive. This exhibit, however, will center two parallel narratives: Wright's vision for Broadacre City, an exurban solution to questions around housing as an alternative to dense urban environments, and the simultaneous development of Harlem's first public housing for working-class African Americans. Presenting a range of drawings, archival photographs and other paraphernalia from the late 1920s to the late 1950s, the show aims to present conflicts around what inclusive housing can and should look like, and the particular problems this question posed in an era of trenchant segregation and economic inequality. Tracing Broadacre's inception in 1935 and its afterlife in much of Wright's later work alongside the 1936 groundbreaking of the Harlem River Houses under Roosevelt's New Deal, Living in America abuts not just questions about housing but its social consequences, from the structure of the nuclear family to debates about the privatization of public space. The show's title is drawn from an inscription on panels accompanying the physical Broadacre City model – now iconic and highly disputed among planners, architects and landscape architects alike. In addition to the exhibit, The Buell Center will host a symposium on September 28 and 29 as part of its longer-term research project, Power: Infrastructure in America, which has previously presented programs with the likes of Forensic Architecture's Eyal Weizman and author Kim Stanley Robinson.
Location:
Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Gallery, Columbia University
Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 W. 129th Street
Opening reception:
September 8 from 6 – 8 p.m.
On view:
September 9, 2017 – December 17, 2017
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Chicago Architecture Biennial to offer free tours of Wright-designed Johnson Wax

Once again, the Chicago Architecture Biennial and SC Johnson will host free tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Johnson Wax corporate headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin. Located about 75 miles north of Chicago, the campus was built between 1936 and 1939. Along with the 14-story Johnson Wax Research Tower, the administration building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Tours will run from September 16th through January 7th, coinciding with the opening of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Leaving from the Chicago Cultural Center, the tour includes the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings as well as the Norman Foster–designed Fortaleza Hall. On Saturdays and Sundays the tour also stops at Wingspread, a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Herbert Fisk Johnson Jr., president of S.C. Johnson during the late 1930s. The Johnson Wax campus is often considered one of Wright’s masterworks, in spite of or possibly because of, the controversy surrounding its design and construction. Aside from the notoriously leaky details, which are found in many of Wright’s projects, the buildings were exorbitantly over budget. Scientists in the Research Tower also found the space to be drafty and uncomfortable. Even with these issues, the project was innovative on many levels. The famous dendriform lily pad columns are no less than an engineering feat. At only nine inches wide at the base and 18 feet wide at the top, few believed they would sustain the weight of the roof. When tested, they were able to sustain loads five times that needed. The Research Tower used a structural systemsimilar to Wright’s Price Tower in Texas, complete with cantilevered floor plates and an early curtain wall system. The tours are free, but seats need to be reserved online.
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Digital Frank Lloyd Wright catalogue is almost as good as the hardcover

In conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: Unpacking the Archive, a new online version of the exhibition catalogue book is now available to preview and purchase. 

Unlike a standard ebook, this digital version is designed specifically for an art book reading experience. While the catalogue is available in print format—and there still is nothing like thumbing through physical pages—the digitized version offers a user-friendly interface whose features make up for the lack of tactility.

Published through Musebooks, perhaps the best feature of this digital version is the ability to toggle between text view, image view, and page view while staying in the same section. The image view compiles all of the catalogue’s illustrations into one webpage and allows readers to zoom into the detailed drawings without losing much of the resolution, a feature that is critical for discerning readers.

The catalogue and exhibition highlight Wright’s expansive practice and feature architectural drawings, models, furniture, films, and television broadcasts. Focusing on objects from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives, they include essays penned by architecture professors and critics like Mabel O. Wilson, Michael Desmond, and Ken Tadashi Oshima, accompanied by almost 300 illustrations.

A preview of the digital version of Frank Lloyd Wright: Unpacking the Archive is available through Musebooks, where it is also being sold for $25.99. (The hardcover, meanwhile, will set you back $44.15 on Amazon.)

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As Frank Lloyd Wright turns 150, the MoMA immerses visitors in 450 works by the iconic American architect

The Museum of Modern Art is throwing Frank Lloyd Wright a birthday party by brushing the dust off of some of his oldest works in the new exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive.

Opening June 12, four days after the architect’s 150th birthday, the exhibit features approximately 450 works in the form of drawings, models, films, furniture, textiles, photos, and building fragments. The works are organized into 12 sections to present Wright’s work as an anthology, exploring the timeline of major events and projects in his life and career.

A catalogue will accompany the exhibition, featuring newly photographed drawings, models, and buildings, as well as a series of critiques and essays by guest scholars—including a piece by Barry Bergdoll, curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA and organizer of the exhibit.

Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive The Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53rd Street, New York June 12–October 1

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New interactive map charts Frank Lloyd Wright’s projects

June, 8th marks the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright's birthday. To celebrate the National Trust for Historic Preservation has launched an interactive map charting many of Wright’s projects across the country. Along with the map a virtual tour of Wright’s Pope-Leighey House in Alexandria, Virginia, was also launched. The National Trust worked with the geographic mapping company ESRI to compile the interactive resources. The map encompasses Wright’s lengthy career, from this work on the Jones Unity Chapel in 1886 through many of his unbuilt visions. Covering more than 60 projects, the map highlights the most famous of Wright’s estimated 400 built works. Each entry includes images and links to additional information. The virtual tour of the Pope-Leighey House gives a more intimate look into a single project from 1941. Designed in Wright’s low-slung Prairie Style, the interior of the home is open and visually connected to the rich surrounding forest. Through custom furniture and fixtures, Wright’s signature designs abound, from intricate patterning to extensive brick and woodwork. According to the tour, years after the house was complete the owners wrote to Wright saying, “we don’t think anyone ever built a house with more warnings in their ears than we did... but we were aware that a man isn’t shot at unless he towers too high above the herd.” Along with the map and tour, the National Trust has also posted a short quiz that matches your personality with one of Wright’s eccentric houses. I was matched with Falling Water, which somehow makes sense. The interactive map from the National Trust for Historic Preservation map can be found here.
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See Frank Lloyd Wright in three places this June

At three places this June, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to see Frank Lloyd Wright's work, and a bit of the man himself. New York's Yossi Milo Gallery is presenting Ezra Stoller's images of Wright's most iconic buildings on the 150th anniversary of his birth. Stoller, a master chronicler of modern architecture who died in 2004, first photographed Frank Lloyd Wright's schools in Spring Green, Wisconsin and Scottsdale, Arizona in 1945. Black-and-white images of Taliesin and Taliesin West (the summer and winter campuses, respectively) will share wall space alongside prints of the Marin County Civic Center, the SC Johnson Research Tower, Fallingwater, and the Guggenheim, just uptown. That exhibition, aptly named Ezra Stoller Photographs Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture, opens June 29 and runs through the end of the summer. Over at MoMA, curators are set to unveil a new anthology-style show that will address Wright's multiple practices as an architect, designer, builder, and thinker. Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive divides itself into 12 sections, each devoted to a selection of objects from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives. These items, from the 1890s through the 1950s, will be displayed alongside objects from the MoMA and other collections. Unpacking the Archive opens June 12 and is organized in collaboration with Columbia University's Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library. But wait, there's more: the Guggenheim Museum is celebrating Wright's birthday on June 8 with, among other things, reduced-price admission for all visitors and an actor/historian playing Wright who will blow out birthday candles in the rotunda.
Ezra Stoller Photographs Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture is on view at Yossi Milo Gallery from June 29 through August 25. More information can be found on the gallery's websiteFrank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive runs from June 12 through October 1 at MoMA, with hours and additional programming information at moma.orgFrank Lloyd Wright 150th Birthday Celebration will be held on June 8 at the Guggenheim, and the fête's full schedule is here.
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Charles Waldheim on the “profound implications” on urban farming for cities today

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) has partnered with urbanNext to share articles on common topics every two weeks. This week, we’re pairing the urbanNext article below with AN’sTravel through space-time with the NYPL’s new map tool.”
The agrarian and the urban are two categories of thought that have more often than not been opposed to one another. Across many disciplines, and for many centuries, the city and the country have been called upon to define one other through binary opposition. Contemporary design culture and discourse on cities are, by contrast, awash in claims of the potential for urban agriculture. Enthusiasm for agricultural production in and around cities has grown through an increased environmental literacy on behalf of designers and scholars. Equally this renewed interest in the relation of food production to urban form has been made possible by increased public literacy about food and the forms of industrial food production and distribution that characterize globalization. This renewed interest in food production and consumption has been shaped by a variety of authors and interests, but has been most forcefully felt as a call for more renewable or sustainable agricultural practices associated with local food production, reduced carbon footprint, increased public health, and the associated benefits of pre-industrial farming techniques including increased biodiversity and ecological health. These tendencies have been most clearly articulated through the so-called ‘slow food’ and ‘locavore’ movements. While much has been written on the implications of these tendencies for agricultural production, public policy, and food as an element of culture, little has been written on the potentially profound implications of these transformations for the shape and structure of the city itself. Much of the enthusiasm for slow and local food in the context of urban populations has been predicated on the assumption that abandoned or underused brownfield sites could be remediated and repurposed with productive potential. Equally, this enthusiasm for urban agriculture has been based on the rededication of greenfield sites peripheral to the city, focusing valuable ecological assets on food production rather than suburban sprawl. While both of these remain viable and laudable goals, they shed little light on the implications of such transformations on the shape and the structure of urban form. For those interested in the city as an object of study and subject of design, this suggests the need for further inquiry into the possibilities for an agricultural urbanism. This essay proposes a history of urban form conceived through the spatial, ecological, and infrastructural implications of agricultural production. In the projects that form this tentative counter-history, agricultural production is conceived as a formative element of the city’s structure, rather than being considered adjunct to, outside of, or inserted within traditional urban forms. While this may remain an alternative or even marginal counter- history, it may be useful as architects and urbanists grapple with the implications for urban form attendant to their renewed interest in the agricultural. This alternative history of the city seeks to construct a useful past from three urban projects organized explicitly around agricultural production as inherent to the economic, ecological, and spatial order of the city. Much of the enthusiasm for slow and local food in the context of urban populations has been predicated on the assumption that abandoned or underused brownfield sites could be remediated and repurposed with productive potential. Equally, this enthusiasm for urban agriculture has been based on the rededication of greenfield sites peripheral to the city, focusing valuable ecological assets on food production rather than suburban sprawl. While both of these remain viable and laudable goals, they shed little light on the implications of such transformations on the shape and the structure of urban form. For those interested in the city as an object of study and subject of design, this suggests the need for further inquiry into the possibilities for an agricultural urbanism. This essay proposes a history of urban form conceived through the spatial, ecological, and infrastructural implications of agricultural production. In the projects that form this tentative counter-history, agricultural production is conceived as a formative element of the city’s structure, rather than being considered adjunct to, outside of, or inserted within traditional urban forms. While this may remain an alternative or even marginal counter- history, it may be useful as architects and urbanists grapple with the implications for urban form attendant to their renewed interest in the agricultural. This alternative history of the city seeks to construct a useful past from three urban projects organized explicitly around agricultural production as inherent to the economic, ecological, and spatial order of the city.
Many projects of 20th-century urban planning explicitly aspired to construct an agrarian urbanism. Often these agrarian aspirations were an attempt to reconcile the seemingly contradictory impulses of the industrial metropolis with the social and cultural conditions of agrarian settlement. In many of these projects, agrarianism offered an alternative to the dense metropolitan form of industrial arrangement that grew from the great migrations from farm village to industrial city in the 19th- and early 20th-century cities of Western Europe and North America. The agrarian aspirations of many modernist urban planning proposals originate in the relatively decentralized model of industrial order favored by Henry Ford and other industrialists as early as the 1910s and 20s. Following Ford’s organizational preference for spatial decentralization, industrial organizations tended to spread horizontally and abandon the traditional industrial city. In part as a response to the social conditions of the Depression era, agrarianism came to be seen as a form of continuity between formerly agrarian populations based on subsistence farming and the relatively vulnerable industrial workforce of the modern metropolis.By mixing industry with agriculture, many modernist urban planners imagined a rotational labor system in which workers alternated between factory jobs and collective farms. Most of- ten these new spatial orders were understood as vast regional landscapes, and their representation conflated aerial view and orthographic map. The emergence of these tendencies in the twentieth century might be read through three unbuilt projects advocating a decentralized agrarian urbanism: Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Broadacre City” (1934-35), Ludwig Hilberseimer’s “New Regional Pattern” (1945-49), and Andrea Branzi’s “Agronica” (1993-94) or “Territory for the New Economy” (1999). [1] While these projects were produced decades apart by three very different authors, taken collectively they illustrate the implications for urban form of agricultural production as inherent to the structure of the city. These projects also form a coherent genealogy of thought on the subject of agricultural urbanism as Branzi explicitly references Hilberseimer’s urban proposals, and Hilberseimer’s work was informed by familiarity with Wright’s urban project. Each of the projects presented their audiences with a profound reconceptualization of the city, proposing radical decentralization and dissolution of the urban figure into a productive landscape. The dissolution of figure into field rendered the classical distinction between city and countryside irrelevant in favor of a conflated condition of suburbanized regionalism. From the perspective of contemporary interests in urban agriculture, both tendencies offer equally compelling alternatives to the canonical history of urban form. Implicit in the work of these three urbanists was the assumption of an ongoing process of urban decentralization led by an industrial economy. For Wright, Hilberseimer, and Branzi, the decreased density produced through the new industrial logic of decentralization came to depend upon landscape as the primary medium of urban form. These suburban landscapes were embodied and fleshed out with agricultural lands, farms, and fields. These projects proposed large territorial or regional networks of urban infrastructure bringing existing natural environments into relationship with new agricultural and industrial landscapes. Broadacres / Usonia In the depths of the Depression, lacking reasonable prospects for a recovery of his once-towering stature as the dean of American architects, Frank Lloyd Wright persuaded his lone remaining patron to fund a traveling exhibition of Wright’s conception of an organic American urbanism. Broadacre City, as it was referred to, consisted of a large model and supporting materials produced by student apprentices at Taliesin in the winter of 1934-35. While the premises underpinning the project were evident in Wright’s lectures as early as the 1920s and fully informed Wright’s 1932 publication The Disappearing City, the Broadacre model and drawings were not debuted until a 1935 New York City exhibition. Subsequently, the traveling exhibition toured extensively and the remarkably durable project was further disseminated in subsequent publications including When Democracy Builds (1945) and The Living City (1958). [2] Broadacre City offered American audiences the clearest crystallization of Wright’s damning critique of the modern industrial city, positing Broadacre as an autochthonous organic model for North American settlement across an essentially boundless carpet of cultivated landscape. Eschewing traditional European distinctions between city and countryside, Broadacre proposed a network of transportation and communication infrastructures using the Jeffersonian grid as its principal ordering system. Within this nearly undifferentiated field, the county government (headed by the county architect) replaced other levels of government administering a population of landowning citizen-farmers. Wright was clearly conversant with and sympathetic to Henry Ford’s notion of a decentralized settlement pattern for North America and the closest built parallel for Wright’s work on Broadacre can be found in Ford’s instigation of what would become the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). As an autonomous public agency, TVA was charged with the construction of hydro-electric dams and highways along the Tennessee River in the electrification of an entire region as a seeding process for future urbanization. [3] Enjoying ownership of one acre of land per person as a birthright, residents of Broadacre (or Usonia, as Wright would come to refer to it) were to enjoy modern houses set in relation to ample subsistence gardens and small-scale farms. This basic pattern of variously scaled housing and landscape types was interspersed with light industry, small commercial centers and markets, civic buildings, and of course the ubiquitous highway. In spite of the project’s extremely low density, most of the ground was cleared and cultivated. Occasionally this constructed and maintained landscape relented in favor of extant waterways, topographic features, or other pre-existing ecologies. Presumably the extrapolation of Broadacre City from its chiefly middle-western origins to the margins of the continent would have been accomplished with varying degrees of accommodation to local climate, geography, and geology, if not cultural or material history. The status of previously urbanized areas existing outside of Wright’s Broadacre remained an open question; presumably these would be abandoned in place, again following Ford’s lead in this regard. Wright’s critique of private ownership, conspicuous consumption, and accumulation of wealth associated with cities was no small part of the explicit social critique offered by Broadacre, as the worst of the Depression forced bankrupt family farmers to flee their mortgaged farms in the midwest for protest in the east or California in the west. Ironically, given his anxiety over the corrosive effects of accumulated wealth and speculative capital, Wright found in Ford’s notion of regional infrastructure the basis for an American pattern of organic urban development. Wright’s Broadacre provided a respite from the relentless demands of profit associated with the industrial city, even as the American city was well on a course toward decentralization, driven by the tendencies of Fordist production. The New Regional Pattern / The New City Another modernist architect/urbanist grappling with the impacts of decentralization on urban form was Ludwig Hilberseimer. Born and educated in Karlsruhe, Germany, Hilberseimer worked with Mies van der Rohe at the Bauhaus until the rise of fascism precipitated their emigration to Chicago and the Armour Institute of Technology (later IIT) in 1938. While Hilberseimer is most notoriously known for his earlier studies for totalizing rationally-planned schemes of modern urbanism from the 1920s such as Hochhausstadt (Highrise City, 1924), Hilberseimer quickly abandoned those schemes in favor of projects that explored decentralization and land- scape as remedies to the ills of the industrial city. This was evident as early as 1927 in a sketch titled “The Metropolis as a Garden-City.” [4] Hilberseimer’s work over the course of the 1930s was clearly influenced by European precedents for the garden-city and evidenced a strategy for the use of landscape and mixed-height housing in a low-density pattern. This is a pattern that would continue to appear in his work in the U.S. over the ensuing decades. Particularly formative in this regard was Hilberseimer’s project for Mischbebauung (Mixed-height Housing, c. 1930), the principles of which would inform the balance of his career. Hilberseimer during this period was committed to the inevitable decentralization of the traditional city as the resultant of industrial policy. This tendency was evident to Hilberseimer as early as the 1920s in Henry Ford’s decision to relocate industrial production outside the city of Detroit in the previous decade. By the 1940s, Hilberseimer’s notion of the “settlement unit” took clearer form through anticipating the development of an interstate highway system and articulating precise relation- ships between transportation networks, settlement units, and the regional landscape. Hilberseimer’s interest in an organic urbanism for North America was further fueled by civil defense imperatives encouraging decentralization in the years following the war. [5] In the wake of Hiroshima, Hilberseimer adapted his proposals to anticipate the construction of the interstate high- way system as a civil defense infrastructure and an extension of Fordist production logics. In this context —– and conversant with Wright’s Broadacre City as well as the progressive TVA project and its proponents in the Regional Planning Association of America —– Hilberseimer developed his “New Regional Pattern” as a strategy for the urbanization of a low-density North American settlement pattern based on regional highway systems and natural environmental conditions. Hilberseimer disseminated his proposals through a publication: The New Regional Pattern: Industries and Gardens, Workshops and Farms (1949). The principles and analysis informing Hilberseimer’s project was published prior to the project itself in The New City: Principles of Planning (1944) and was disseminated a decade later in The Nature of Cities (1955). [6] As with Broadacre, the “New Regional Pattern” was organized around the distribution of transportation and communication networks across an essentially horizontal field of landscape. Within this extensive horizontal territory, housing, farms, light industry, commercial buildings, and civic spaces formed vari- ously scaled networks across a field of decentralized distribution. The organizational pattern of “New Regional Pattern” did not defer to the abstraction of the grid, but was informed by the natural environment; topography, hydrology, vegetation, wind patterns, among others. It conflated infrastructural systems with built landscapes and found environmental conditions to produce a radically reconceived settlement pattern for North America. While Hilberseimer’s exquisite drawings (many are the uncredited work of IIT colleague Alfred Caldwell) did not make an explicit case for the kind of ecological awareness apparent in contemporary landscape urbanism, they clearly inflected urban infrastructure to ambient environmental conditions. [7] In this regard, the project offers a profound critique of traditional nineteenth-century urban form, as well as the architectural and urban practices associated with that that persisted into the twentieth century. Agronica / Territory for the New Economy The work of the Italian architect and urbanist Andrea Branzi might be found equally relevant to the emergent discourse on agrarian urbanism. Branzi’s work reanimates a long tradition of using the urban project as a social and cultural critique. This form of urban projection deploys a project not simply as an illustration or ‘vision,’ but rather as a demystified distillation and description of our present urban predicaments. In this sense, Branzi’s urban projects can be read less as a utopian future possible world, and more as a critically engaged and politically literate delineation of the power structures, forces, and flows shaping the contemporary urban condition. Over the past four decades Branzi’s work has articulated a remarkably consistent critique of the social, cultural, and intellectual poverty of laissez-faire urban development and the realpolitik assumptions of much urban design and planning. As an alternative, Branzi’s projects propose urbanism in the form of an environmental, economic, and aesthetic critique of the failings of the contemporary city. Born and educated in Florence, Branzi studied architecture in the cultural milieu of the Operaists and the scholarly tradition of Marxist critique. Branzi first came to international visibility as a member of the collective Archizoom Associati (mid-1960s) based in Milano but associated with the Florentine Architettura Radicale movement. Archizoom’s project and texts for “No-Stop City” (1968-71) illustrate an urbanism of continuous mobility, fluidity, and flux. While “No-Stop City” was received on one level as a satire of the British technophile of Archigram, on another level it was an illustration of an urbanism without qualities, a representation of the ‘degree- zero’ conditions for urbanization. [8] Archizoom’s use of typewriter keystrokes on A4 paper to represent a non-figural planning study for “No-Stop City” anticipated contemporary interest in indexical and parametric formulations of the city. Their work prefigured the current interest in describing the relentlessly horizontal field conditions of the modern metropolis as a surface shaped by the strong forces of economic and ecological flows. Equally, these drawings and their texts anticipate current interest in infrastructure and ecology as non-figurative drivers of urban form. As such, a generation of contemporary urbanists has drawn from Branzi’s intellectual commitments. This diverse list of influence ranges from Stan Allen and James Corner’s interest in field conditions to Alex Wall and Alejandro Zaera-Polo’s interest in logistics. [9] More recently Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara’s project “Stop-City” directly references Branzi’s use of non-figurative urban projection as a form of social and political critique. [10] Branzi’s urban projects are equally available to inform contemporary interests within architectural culture and urbanism on a wide array of topics as diverse as animalia, indeterminacy, and genericity, among others. Branzi’s “No-Stop City” proposed an explicitly nonfigurative urbanism. In so doing, it renewed a longstanding tradition of non-figurative urban projects as a form of social critique. In this regard, Branzi’s “No-Stop City” draws upon the urban planning projects and theories of Ludwig Hilberseimer, particularly Hilberseimer’s “New Regional Pattern” and that project’s illustration of a proto-ecological urbanism. [11] Not coincidentally, both Branzi and Hilberseimer chose to illustrate the city as a continuous system of relational forces and flows, as opposed to a collection of objects. In this sense, the ongoing recuperation of Hilberseimer, and Branzi’s renewed relevance for discussions of contemporary urbanism render them particularly relevant to discussions of ecological urbanism. Andrea Branzi occupies a singular historical position as a hinge figure between the social and environmental aspirations of modernist planning of the post-war era and the politics of 1968 in which his work first emerged for English language audiences. As such, his work is particularly well suited to shed light on the emergent discussion around ecological urbanism. Branzi’s “Agronica” project (1993-94) illustrated the relentlessly horizontal spread of capital across thin tissues of territory, and the resultant ‘weak urbanization’ that the neoliberal economic paradigm affords. Agronica embodies the potential parallels between agricultural and energy production, new modalities of post-Fordist industrial economy, and the cultures of consumption that they construct. [12] More recently in 1999, Branzi (with the Domus Academy, a post-graduate research institute founded in the 1980s) executed a project for Philips in Eindhoven. These projects returned to the recurring themes in Branzi’s oeuvre with typical wit and pith, illustrating a “Territory for the New Economy” in which agricultural production was instrumental in deriving urban form. [13] Branzi’s ‘weak work’ maintains its critical and projective relevance for a new generation of urbanists interested in the economic and agricultural drivers of urban form. His longstanding call for the development of weak urban forms and non-figural fields has already influenced the thinking of those who articulated landscape urbanism over a decade ago and promises to reanimate emergent discussions of ecological urbanism. [14] Equally, Branzi’s projective and polemic urban propositions promise to shed light on agrarian urbanism, and its potential for shaping the contemporary city and the disciplines that describe it. While this brief pre-history of agricultural urbanism raises more questions than it answers, and may do little to convince contemporary readers of the efficacy of organizing the city in this way, it seems a useful (if not necessary) exercise in understanding the broader implications of contemporary food culture for the design disciplines. In this regard, it is significant that each of the three architect/urbanists presented here as pursuing an explicitly agricultural urbanism did so as part of a broader critical position engaged with economic inequality, social justice, and environmental health. Wright, Hilberseimer, and Branzi, each in their own way, embodied a longstanding tradition of using the urban project as a form of social critique in which the production and consumption of the city, its economy and ecology, are available as tools of analysis and critique. While Wright, Hilberseimer, and Branzi were responding to different economic and ecological contexts, each of them found the urban project an effective vehicle for critiquing the form of their contemporary cities, and the economic, social, and political orders that produced them.

This article appeared as "Notes Towards a History of Agrarian Urbanism" in urbanNext, and was first published in Bracket 1 [on Farming], 2010.
[1] Frank Lloyd Wright, The Living City (New York: Horizon Press, 1958); Ludwig Hilberseimer, The New Regional Pattern: Industries and Gardens, Workshops and Farms (Chicago: Paul Theobald & Co., 1949); Andrea Branzi, D. Donegani, A. Petrillo, and C. Raimondo, “Symbiotic Metropolis: Agronica” The Solid Side, ed. Ezio Manzini and Marco Susani (Netherlands: V+K Publishing / Philips, 1995), 101-120; and Andrea Branzi, “Preliminary Notes for a Master Plan,” and “Master Plan Strijp Philips, Eindhoven 1999.” Lotus, no. 107 (2000): 110-123. [2] The principles underpinning Wright’s Broadacre project were published in 1932 in Frank Lloyd Wright, Disappearing City (New York: W. F. Payson, 1932); and subsequently reformulated as When Democracy Builds (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1945). For an historical overview of Broadacre’s influ- ences and contemporary reception, see Peter Hall, Cities of Tomorrow (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), 285-90. [3] For an overview of the Tennessee Valley Authority, see Walter Creese, TVA’s Public Planning (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1990); and Peter Hall, Cities of Tomorrow, 161-3. [4] For an overview of the origins of Hilberseimer’s interpretation of the garden city, see David Spaeth, “Ludwig Hilberseimer’s Settlement Unit: Origins and Applications,” In the Shadow of Mies: Ludwig Hilberseimer, Architect, Educator, and Urban Planner, ed. Richard Pommer, David Spaeth, and Kevin Harrington (New York/Chicago: Rizzoli/Art Institute of Chicago, 1988), 54-68. [5] Hilberseimer and Caldwell advocated for decentralization as a civil defense strategy in the wake of Hiroshima. See Caldwell, “Atomic Bombs and City Planning,” Journal of the American Institute of Architects, vol. 4 (1945: 289-299); and also Hilberseimer, “Cities and Defense,” (c. 1945) reprinted in: In the Shadow of Mies: Ludwig Hilberseimer, Architect, Educator, and Urban Planner, ed. Richard Pommer, David Spaeth, and Kevin Harrington (New York/Chicago: Rizzoli/Art Institute of Chicago, 1988), 89-93. [6] Ludwig Hilberseimer, The New City: Principles of Planning (Chicago: Paul Theobald & Co., 1944); The Nature of Cities: Origin, Growth, and Decline, Pattern and Form, Planning Problems (Chicago: Paul Theobald & Co., 1955). [7] For a detailed account of Hilberseimer’s professional relationship with Caldwell, see Caroline Constant, “Hilberseimer and Caldwell: Merging Ideologies in the Lafayette Park Landscape,” CASE: Lafayette Park Detroit, ed. Charles Waldheim (Cambridge/Munich: Harvard/Prestel, 2004), 95-111. On Caldwell’s life and work, see Dennis Domer, Alfred Caldwell: The Life and Work of a Prairie School Landscape Architect (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997). [8] Archizoom Associates, “No-Stop City. Residential Parkings. Climatic Universal Sistem,” Domus 496 (March 1971): 49-55. For Branzi’s reflections on the project, see Andrea Branzi, “Notes on No-Stop City: Archizoom Associates 1969-1972,” Exit Utopia: Architectural Provocations 1956-1976, ed. Martin van Schaik and Otakar Macel, (Munich: Prestel, 2005), 177-182. For more recent scholarship on the project and its relations to contemporary architectural culture and urban theory, see Kazys Varnelis, “Programming After Program: Archizoom’s No-Stop City,” Praxis, no. 8 (May 2006): 82-91. [9] On field conditions and contemporary urbanism, see James Corner “The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention,” Mappings ed. Denis Cosgrove (London: Reaktion Books, 1999), 213-300; and Stan Allen, “Mat Urbanism: The Thick 2-D,”CASE: Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital and the Mat Building Revival, ed. Hashim Sarkis (Munich: Prestel, 2001), 118-126. On logistics and contemporary urbanism, see Susan Nigra Snyder and Alex Wall, “Emerging Landscape of Movement and Logistics,” Architectural Design Profile, no.134 (1998): 16-21; and Alejandro Zaera Polo, “Order out of Chaos: The Material Organization of Advanced Capitalism,” Architec- tural Design Profile, no. 108 (1994): 24-29. [10] See Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara, “Architecture as Framework: The Project of the City and the Crisis of Neoliberal- ism,” New Geographies, no. 1 (September 2008): 38-51. [11] Ludwig Hilberseimer, The New Regional Pattern: Industries and Gardens, Workshops and Farms (Chicago: Paul Theobald, 1949). [12] Andrea Branzi, D. Donegani, A. Petrillo, and C. Raimondo, “Symbiotic Metropolis: Agronica” The Solid Side, ed. Ezio Manzini and Marco Susani (Netherlands: V+K Publishing / Philips, 1995), 101-120. [13] Andrea Branzi, “Preliminary Notes for a Master Plan,” and “Master Plan Strijp Philips, Eindhoven 1999” Lotus, no. 107 (2000): 110-123. [14] Andrea Branzi, “The Weak Metropolis,” Ecological Urbanism Conference, Harvard Graduate School of Design, April 4, 2009.
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Guggenheim Museum to celebrate Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday

If Frank Lloyd Wright were still alive, June 8 would be his 150th birthday. Sadly, the architect who is one of America's most renowned is no longer with us, but the occasion can still be celebrated. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, one of Wright's best works, is putting on a series of events to mark the date.

The activities will be about the museum building itself and Frank Loyd Wright's involvement with it. June 8 will kick off with a special open day, starting at 10 a.m. and running through to 5.45 p.m. Admission will be reduced to $1.50 in reference to architect's would-be age. The Guggenheim’s newly renovated Cafe 3 will display large rare photographs of the museum during its construction phase. A special birthday cake will also be on the day's menu.

Between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., an actor-historian will be walking around playing the role of Frank Lloyd Wright. (Hopefully, he will not emulate all of the architect's traits—one of which was to be often aloof and a no-show.)

In case you miss it, further activities will be put on throughout the month including architecture-specific tours of the museum as part of the Art in the Round program, sketch workshops such as Drawing the Guggenheim, and a variety of family programs. In addition to this, the Guggenheim Store will also be selling new Wright-related merchandise, and the museum’s website will feature new content about the architect.