Getting inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s only design in South Carolina’s Lowcountry is not an easy feat. The legendary architect’s C. Leigh Stevens House on Auldbrass Plantation in Yemassee was previously only open for public tours every two years, but that’s changing. The Beaufort County Open Land Trust, which manages the site, announced this week that tours of the house will be given now on an annual basis, with the first round of tours scheduled for November 10-11. Tickets go on sale August 9 for $175 each. Built in 1939 for Michigan industrialist C. Leigh Stevens, Wright famously designed the residential structure without any right angles. He was supposedly inspired by the lean of the live oak trees found throughout the local region. Hexagonal shapes and inward-sloping walls define the main features of the house and the surrounding slender, one-story structures, including the caretaker’s residence, barn stables, kennels, and cabins—all linked by esplanades and largely clad in brick and local cypress. An elongated swimming pool and bathhouse were also constructed for the complex. The 4,000-acre plantation sits on the Combahee River in Yemassee, about an hour west of Edisto Island and 1.5 hours south of Charleston. The plantation fell into disrepair in the 1960s after Stevens passed away and was purchased by Hollywood producer Joel Silver in 1987. Over the last three decades, Silver has worked with the architect’s grandson, Eric Lloyd Wright, to restore the site to its original elegance and complete Wright’s vision for several other never-realized buildings planned for the complex. Before buying Auldbrass, Silver restored Storer House, one of Wright’s Mayan Revival style textile-block houses in Los Angeles. Auldbrass Plantation was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and is one of only two buildings Wright designed in South Carolina. The other is an additional residential project called Broad Margin upstate in Greenville.
Posts tagged with "Frank lloyd Wright":
Following an extensive, more than a decade-long restoration, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House in Los Angeles is for sale. The 5,500-square-foot neo-Mayan hilltop house was designed by Wright in 1923 and is on the market for a cool $23 million. The home is the last and largest of Wright’s “textile block” homes in Los Angeles. The home was last listed for sale in 2009 for $15 million following a slew of upgrades and renovations, a figure that eventually fell to a mere $4.5 million in the fallout of the 2008 economic collapse. In 2011 the home finally sold to business executive Ron Burkle, the current owner. The home was previously owned by the Ennis House Foundation, which sold the property to Burkle with a requirement that it be open to public tours for at least 12 days per year, a stipulation that will follow the house as it changes hands once again. After the 2011 purchase, Burkle spent the next six years fully restoring the home with help from Wright’s grandson Eric Lloyd Wright, who was the historic preservation consultant for the project. Matt Construction executed the restoration work on the house, a project that involved structurally stabilizing the house as well as replacing nearly 4,000 of the home’s 27,000 textile concrete blocks. The building was also re-roofed during the restoration, and the home’s interior wood floors, ceilings, and art glass windows were restored. Prior to the restoration work, the home had sat in horrible shape after suffering extensive structural damage following the 1994 Northridge earthquake. In 2005, torrential rains in L.A. caused much of the roof damage and interior deterioration that the latest restoration corrected. The home is famous for being shown in a variety of films, including Blade Runner and House on Haunted Hill. The home was originally commissioned for Charles and Mabel Ennis and is currently listed on the market by Beverly Hill-based realtors Branden and Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland.
Frank Lloyd Wright proposed the revolutionary suburban utopia Broadacre City in the 1930s. He could not have expected it to inspire artists designing the campus of an online shopping website in China more than eighty years later. China-based Drawing Architecture Studio exhibited a series of panoramic drawings called Taobao Village – Smallacre City at the Venice Architecture Biennale this year, which is a speculative design for the headquarters of Taobao, a Chinese consumer-to-consumer retail platform that garners 580 million monthly active users. Drawing Architecture Studio is a Beijing-based art, architecture and urban research practice cofounded by architect Han Li and designer Yan Hu. In Broadacre City, Wright envisioned that American cities would no longer be centralized and limited to a central business district. Instead, families, each given a one-acre plot of land, would be self-sufficient households commuting mostly with the automobile. His concepts are especially relevant today in China where the rural and urban divide highlights many problems of inequality and inefficiency. The Chinese drawing studio combines Wright’s ideals and a fresh perspective from modern China. The masterplan of Broadacre is used as the basis on which the village of Taobao, the Alibaba-owned, popular e-commerce website, is imagined. According to the architects, their proposal tries to speculate how Taobao and the Internet will contribute to China’s goal to integrate urban and rural economies. The village consists of transport infrastructure and distribution networks of the online shopping empire. Bridges, roads and conveyer belts cross over and intersect each other, constructing a layered, lively cityscape enclosing both the enterprise and the rural-urban complex. The illustrations employ elements from both the East and the West. The composition of the village is symmetrical and organized along a straight axis, recalling the organization of Beijing’s Forbidden City. Eclectic, Western-classical building motifs used in rural Chinese villages alongside traditional Buddhist statues and Chinoiserie columns are depicted in the illustrations. The drawings are part of the exhibition titled Building a future countryside in the Pavilion of China at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
The owners of a famous Frank Lloyd Wright home in California are sick and tired of architecture aficionados walking up to their property to glimpse the beauty within. But, with the right bottle of wine, the Millard House's residents may let curious visitors have a look around. Wright built the Millard House (or La Miniatura) for George and Alice Millard in 1924. The structure was Wright's first attempt at modular building, but the house is far from ordinary. Its signature concrete facade and courtyard walls are covered in a textile pattern, which helps it blend into the steep but lush site. The Pasadena home, one of five concrete block abodes the architect designed in southern California, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. In addition to its beauty, La Miniatura exemplifies a turning point in Wright's practice as he expanded beyond the Prairie Style for which he had become known. Naturally, people are all about Wright and his work, and in the past, it was possible to wander up to the property, undisturbed. Last week, though, reader Ken Saylor sent The Architect's Newspaper (AN) a picture of a note outside La Miniatura taken by his sister, Michelle, on a recent visit. The missive reads as follows:
Dear Tourist, Thank you for your interest in Frank Lloyd Wright's La Miniatura. This is a privately owned residence and is not open for tours. Please do not wander past the driveway as you will be disturbing human and canine residents who are enjoying their privacy. Photographs can be taken from the driveway as well as through the fence on Rosemont. If for some reason you feel strongly that these rules can't possibly apply to you because *you* are so special that you must be entitled to a tour, then you are welcome to leave a bottle of wine, along with your full name and contact information, and your request will be considered. Medium to full-bodied California Pinot Noir with strong notes of fruit and spices, such as Foxen, Hocus Pocus, and/or Husch, preferred. Thank you and have a nice day!A "Private Property" sign appears to be hung just below the note, for good measure. AN reached out to the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office to learn the identity of the oenophile owners. (The county doesn't list owners in its online property database.) While the owners request full transparency on behalf of potential visitors, they've chosen to hide their identities behind a LLC. Records show the home is owned Acme Int Capital Mgmt, which is registered to an address in nearby San Marino, California. The property has changed hands three times in the past decade. It last sold in 2015 for $3.65 million. Efforts to contact the owners were unsuccessful.
The preservation nonprofit Docomomo US has announced the winners of its 2018 Modernism in America Awards, recognizing 13 people or projects that have sensitively preserved, or advocated for the preservation of, modern icons throughout the country. “By recognizing the important design and preservation work being done around the country that often is overlooked,” said Docomomo US president, Theodore Prudon, “the Modernism in America Awards program is bringing further awareness to the substantial contribution that preservation in general - and the postwar heritage in particular - makes to the economic and cultural life of our communities. " The 2018 recipients of the annual Modernism in America Awards, now in its fifth year, will be honored on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at the Design Within Reach Third Avenue Studio in New York City. This year’s jury was composed of Docomomo US’s Board of Directors. The prizes were awarded in the following categories: Design Award of Excellence, one Special Award of Restoration Excellence, and the Citations of Merit. Design Award of Excellence winners: General Motors Design Dome and Auditorium Location: Warren, MI Original Architect: Harley Earl and Eero Saarinen Restoration Team: SmithGroupJJR (See Docomomo US for full list) Client: General Motors Award: Commercial Design Award of Excellence From the jury: “This is the perfect example of how to treat an icon.” Jury member Eric Keune adds, “The renovation demonstrates the great care that was given to the original design team’s vision, while simultaneously bringing the spirit forward with a gentle guiding hand and using contemporary technology. It is noteworthy and commendable that General Motors was willing to invest and upgrade the building for the same use even though the company has continued to transform themselves over time.” Lenox Health Greenwich Village Location: New York, NY Original Architect: Albert C. Ledner Restoration Team: Northwell Health, Perkins Eastman, CANY, Turner Construction, BR+A, Silman, Cerami & Associates, Russell Design, Sam Schwartz, VDA, Langan Engineering, Louis Sgroe Equipment Planning Client: Northwell Health Award: Commercial Design Award of Excellence From the jury: “This beautiful and unique building is an incredible piece of urban architecture whose restoration respectfully honors the building’s original concept while creatively adapting a dramatic structure to a new purpose. This project offers clients and cities alike valuable lessons about the transformative impacts of architecture and design; specifically, the often-surprising elasticity which waits patiently, and at times unexpectedly, in certain works of modern architecture.” Hill College House Renovation Location: Philadelphia, PA Original Architect: Eero Saarinen and Dan Kiley (landscapes) Restoration Team: Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC (Architecture), Floss Barber Inc. (Interior Design), Keystone Preservation Group (Materials Conservation), OLIN (Landscape Design) (See Docomomo US for full list) Client: University of Pennsylvania Award: Civic/Institutional Design Award of Excellence From the jury: “This project highlights the commitment to restore a beautiful but overlooked campus structure and honors the lasting values found in modern architecture. The work accomplished by the design team not only respects the original vision, but also addresses the needs of students today, improving functionality and gaining a LEED certification – Saarinen for the 21st century.” George Kraigher House Location: Brownsville, TX Original Architect: Richard Neutra Restoration Team: Lawrence V. Lof (Project Lead), Texas Southmost College Client: City of Brownsville and Texas Southmost College – Dr. Juliet V. García, president, and Dr. José G. Martín, provost Award: Residential Design Award of Excellence From the jury: “Restoration of the Kraigher House is a compelling story of the power of public and private partnerships. Beginning with the grassroots advocacy efforts of Ambrosio Villarreal, to the Kraigher House's inclusion on Preservation Texas’ and the National Trust for Historic Preservation's endangered lists, restoration of this rare and significant Neutra residence by the Brownsville community is a strong testament to the power of partnerships.” Imagining the Modern: The Architecture and Urbanism of Postwar Pittsburgh Location: Pittsburgh, PA Project Team: Chris Grimley, Michael Kubo, and Rami el Samahy with Ann Lui, Mark Pasnik, Cameron Longyear, Shannon McLean, Brett Pierson, Andrew Potter, Rebecca Rice, Valny Aoalsteindottir, Silvia Colpani, Lindsay Dumont, and Victoria Pai - over,under (Architects-in-Residence) (See Docomomo US for full list) Client: Heinz Architectural Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh Award: Survey/Inventory Award of Excellence From the jury: “This comprehensive and multi-dimensional project established a broad context to understand a cross section of modernism through multiple lenses in the context of a single city. The project team is recognized for this deeply researched and beautifully presented exhibition that encouraged participants to take a fresh look at the architecture and urbanism of postwar Pittsburgh.” Starship Chicago: A Film by Nathan Eddy Location: Chicago, IL Project Team: Nathan Eddy (Director) Award: Advocacy Award of Excellence From the jury: “When most preservation efforts are reactionary, Nathan Eddy has taken a unique and proactive approach and sparked much-needed conversation and action before a building faces demolition. Starship Chicago is thoughtful, beautiful, informative, and engaging and brings to light what a powerful medium film can be.” Tom Little: Georgia Advocacy Location: Atlanta, GA Recipient: Docomomo US/Georgia chapter president Tom Little Award: Advocacy Award of Excellence From the jury: “As a result of Tom’s dedication and advocacy, he has been instrumental in saving a number of significant buildings in the region. As the founding president of the Georgia chapter of Docomomo US, Tom continues to be a steadfast advocate for modern buildings and we acknowledge his dedication in sharing the organization's mission through local leadership and advocacy.” Special Award of Restoration Excellence: Unity Temple Location: Oak Park, IL Original Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright Restoration Team: Harboe Architects, PC (Restoration Architects), Project Management Advisors, Inc. (Project Management), Berglund Construction Company (Contractor) Client: UTP, LLC From the jury: “This is a comprehensive restoration of one of the canonical and pioneering works of American modern architecture. It allows future generations to not only use, but learn from, and see this building as it was originally designed by Wright.” Citations of Merit: 115, Geotronics Labs Building Location: Dallas, TX Original Architect: Printz and Brooks Restoration Team: DSGN Associates (Architecture), Constructive – Rick Fontenot From the jury: “It is important to call attention to a project that takes a typical, small company office building and revitalizes it as an example to others who may embark upon similar projects.” Jury member Meredith Bzdak added, “This is a well-executed restoration and a good model for the treatment of other modest mid-century buildings like this around the country.” George Washington Bridge Bus Station Location: New York, NY Original Architect: Dr. Pier Luigi Nervi Restoration Team: The Port Authority of NY & NJ – Engineering Department, Architectural Unit, STV, Inc. From the jury: “As bus stations continue to be lynchpins of modern urban transportation infrastructure, the restoration of the GWB Bus Station was thoughtfully executed and serves as an important example of a government agency choosing to invest in the restoration of a significant modern resource instead of opting for new construction.” Lurie House Location: Pleasantville, NY Original Architect: Kaneji Domoto Restoration Team: Lynnette Widder (Lead) (See Docomomo US for full list) From the jury: “This is a beautiful and well-considered renovation done with extreme care and appreciation of environmental efforts as well as the Japanese-American architect’s cultural orientation.” Banking on Beauty: Millard Sheets and Midcentury Commercial Architecture Location: California Project Team: Adam Arenson From the jury: “Arenson’s research has uncovered an extensive legacy of ‘every man modernism’ that was largely unknown and underappreciated, and brings attention to main street architecture with real design value and the impact of individual grassroots efforts.” UC San Diego Campus-wide Historic Context Statement and Historic Resource Survey Location: San Diego, CA Project Team: Architectural Resources Group – Katie E. Horak, Principal, Andrew Goodrich, Associate, Micaela Torres-Gill, Paul D. Turner, PhD, NeuCampus Planning – David Neuman UC San Diego, Physical and Community Planning - Robert Clossin (AICP, Director), Catherine Presmyk (Assistant Director of Environmental Planning), Todd Pitman (Assistant Director and Campus Landscape Architect) (See Docomomo US for full list) Client: UC San Diego From the jury: “This project is significant because of the ever-increasing pressures universities face in improving their campus building portfolios while maintaining significant architectural resources. The inventory will help better protect these resources and has the potential to educate this particular campus community and other college and university systems across the country.”
On April 20, the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) announced the 2018 awardees of the SAH Publication Awards and the SAH Award for Film and Video. The seven awardees are divided into six categories, ranging from exhibition catalogues to documentary film. The Society of Architectural Historians is an international organization advocating the study and preservation of architecture and urbanism. The organization was founded in 1940 at Harvard University, but is now located in Chicago’s Charnley-Persky House, a residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan. Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award: This award annually recognizes distinguished scholarly publications in the field of architectural history by a North American scholar. There are two winners: Kathryn E. O’Rourke Modern Architecture in Mexico City: History Representation, and the Shaping of a Capital O’ Rourke’s Modern Architecture in Mexico City presents a narrative of Mexico City’s distinctive modernist movement, one blending Aztec motifs and International Style architecture within the same context. O’Rourke looks toward educational centers, government ministries, and private residences to construct her interpretation of this distinct historical moment. Mrinalini Rajagopalan Building Histories: The Archival and Affective Lives of Five Monuments in Modern Delhi Rajagopolan’s Building Histories examines the historical memories constructed around “five medieval monuments in Delhi–the Red Fort, Rasul Numa Dargah, Jama Masjid, Purana Qila, and the Qutb complex.” Through archival research, the author seeks to demonstrate how colonial and post-colonial authorities have manipulated architectural history and artifacts to suit their political needs. Philip Johnson Exhibition Catalogue Award: This award acknowledges an exhibition catalogue that explores architectural history in a unique and engaging way. Nina Stritzler-Levine and Timo Riekko, Editors Artek and the Aaltos: Creating a Modern World Atrek and the Aaltos: Creating a Modern World began as a Bard Graduate Center exhibition focusing on Finnish architects Alvar Aalto and Aino Marsio-Alto and their design company, Artek. A catalogue of this exhibition, the book features images of over three hundred objects designed by the company and critical interpretations of their work. Spiro Kostof Award: This award recognizes interdisciplinary studies of urban history that advance our understanding of urban development. John North Hopkins The Genesis of Roman Architecture Hopkins’ The Genesis of Roman Architecture tracks the development of Roman architecture as the dominant stylistic influence of the Mediterranean world. Additionally, the book examines cultural exchanges between the growing Roman Republic and neighboring civilizations and their impact on Roman artistry. Honorable Mention Michele Lamprakos Building a World Heritage City: Sanaa, Yemen Building a World Heritage City examines Yemen’s capital as a historic city that has continued its traditional building methods and ways of life to the present day. With the backdrop of the ongoing Yemeni Civil War, the book provides an eloquent account of the threatened ancient settlement. Elisabeth Blair MacDougall Book Award: The MacDougall Book Award annually awards a distinguished work focusing on the history of landscape architecture. John Beardsley, Editor Cultural Landscape Heritage in Sub-Saharan Africa Beardsley’s Cultural Landscape Heritage in Sub-Saharan Africa is a collection of essays focusing on pre-colonial African landscaping. The sites discussed in the book range from pathways to ceremonial spaces. Through this discussion, the author highlights how these sites were perceived by colonial authorities and by contemporary nation-building policies. Founders’ JSAH Article Award: The Founders’ Award recognizes an article published in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Sabine von Fischer “A Visual Imprint of Moving Air: Methods, Models, and Media in Architectural Sound Photography, ca. 1930” Von Fischer’s “A Visual Imprint of Moving Air” examines the role of photography and images in the early 20th century study of architectural acoustics. In particular, von Fischer focuses on the experiments of Franz Max Osswald, a Swiss academic who used the schlieren technique for photographic sound. SAH Award for Film and Video: This award recognizes a film or video that deepens the understanding of the built environment and delivers it to a new audience. Peter Rosen, Director Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future Rosen’s documentary on Eero Saarinen chronicles the life and work of the Finnish-American architect, and is part of PBS' American Masters television series. The film includes interviews with contemporary architects Cesar Pelli, Robert A.M Stern and Rafael Vinoly.
Richard Weinstein, an architect whose contributions helped to rethink traditional zoning and urban planning in both New York and Los Angeles, passed on February 24 at the age of 85 from complications related to Parkinson’s disease. Weinstein, a proponent of public-minded urban planning, was known for crafting zoning regulations that were specific to the context of individual neighborhoods rather than conform to a universal template. Weinstein began his academic career in the field of psychology, receiving his B.A from Brown University and an M.A from Columbia. As reported by the New York Times, Weinstein’s professional tenure as a psychologist based in Washington D.C exposed him to the works of Frank Lloyd Wright that dot the capital’s landscape. Spurred by this exposure, Weinstein enrolled in Harvard’s architecture program but ultimately transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his master’s in 1960. The architect’s planning career began following John V. Lindsay’s successful campaign for mayor in 1965. Under the Lindsay administration, Weinstein served as the director of the Office of Planning and Development for Lower Manhattan and was a founding member of the Urban Design Group, a revolutionary body that embedded architects and planners within city governance and decision-making. With the authority of the mayor’s office, the Urban Design Group negotiated directly with the development community to guide New York towards an inclusive and pluralist policy of urban design. Prior to his involvement with the Lindsay administration, Weinstein worked for the firms of Edward Larrabee Barnes and I.M Pei. Weinstein’s approach to planning is described by UCLA as grounded in the belief that “the city’s mandate was to preserve and enrich the life of the public and cultural street as the city grew taller with private investment,” increased tax revenue was not to be considered a valid exchange for building variances. While working for the Lindsay administration, Weinstein was crucial in the protection of Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, Cass Gilbert’s United States Custom House, and pushed for the creation, and expansion, of the Times Square Historic District. His knowledge of New York's complex system of air rights facilitated economic self-sufficiency for the city's landmarks and simultaneously guided development along predetermined channels Weinstein took up the post of dean of UCLA’s Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning in 1985, a post he held until 1994. He remained at UCLA as a professor of architecture and urban design until 2008. There, his influence on a generation of architects was immeasurable. As Thom Mayne, founder and principal of Morphosis, and a professor of architecture at UCLA, stated, "Richard saw architecture/urbanism as a noble profession with immeasurable potential to shape everyday life, inextricably linked to its social, political and cultural circumstance. We often discussed the seemingly unknowable nature of our profession which only propelled us to stubbornly attempt to achieve the impossible — in every project.” Weinstein is survived by his wife, Edina, and two sons – Nikolas and Alexander.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Gallery, Columbia University
Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 W. 129th Street
September 8 from 6 – 8 p.m.
September 9, 2017 – December 17, 2017