An unusually vertical Frank Lloyd Wright building in Wisconsin will open its doors to the public for the first time since its construction in 1950. The Research Tower in Racine, Wisconsin has housed SC Johnson for 32 years, anchoring its 153-foot tall mass with a distinctive “taproot” foundation. Its tree-like core and wrap-around windows will now be open to visitors, beginning on May 2. Tours will run on Fridays and Saturdays through September 27. SC Johnson’s Wright-designed corporate campus is a glimpse of what the architect’s ambitious urban planning vision might have looked like had it taken root beyond a few scattered examples such as the site of the 15-story Research Tower. That building, as well as the company's 1939 Administration Building, are now on the National Register of Historic Places. The Museum of Modern Art in New York is mounting an exhibition on Wright's radical approach to urbanism, which included seemingly contradictory bids for a sprawling “Broadacre City” and mile-high skyscrapers that pushed density to the brink of absurdity. The show is called Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal. Research Tower is not the only bit of Wright’s portfolio to see some sunshine lately. In December the architect’s first independent commission—the William Winslow House in River Forest, Illinois—went on the market. Weeks later the balcony over Wright's studio in Oak Park announced it would open for public tours for the first time in decades.
Posts tagged with "Frank lloyd Wright":
After almost eight decades of constant use, Taliesin West is ready for a makeover. The Scottsdale, Arizona site was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio, and architecture school. Today, the campus houses the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and is also a popular tourist destination, with over 100,000 visitors annually. Now, time, climate, and footsteps have taken their toll on the landmark. A combination of heavy use and the complex's desert environment have left Taliesin West in need of significant restoration, as well as accessibility, sustainability, and safety upgrades. As a first step towards remaking Taliesin West, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has selected Chicago firm Harboe Architects to prepare a preservation master plan of the site. “[T. Gunny] Harboe and his firm rose to the top of a truly extraordinary field,” Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation CEO and President Sean Malone said. The selection committee—which included Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation staff leadership, its Preservation Committee, and a Preservation Oversight Committee made up of five outside experts—chose Harboe Architects from among more than forty contenders. “Harboe had such a remarkable understanding of Wright’s work and this particular project,” Malone said. Harboe will undertake a year-long study of Taliesin West, a National Historic Landmark site constructed between 1937 and 1959, to determine the scope of the restoration (including cost and timeline). Through research, multiple site visits, and a cultural and structural history of the location, the preservation team will answer two questions: what needs to be restored and why. “Why is a really exciting question,” Malone explained. “Part of the project is [defining a] preservation philosophy. Then once we make those decisions, that’s going to drive the decision about how.” Besides Harboe, the team also includes Michael Henry, of Watson and Henry Associates, and Dorothy Krotzer, of Building Conservation Associates. Harboe’s team faces particular challenges in preserving a site that was never meant to be static. “Taliesin West is more complicated than a lot of sites because change over time was an inherent part of the story,” Malone said. Unlike other Wright sites (except Taliesin, the architect’s Wisconsin home and studio), the Scottsdale campus was not built for one particular time. Instead, it was designed as a laboratory, a space within which ideas about architecture could develop and change. “It’s a living place. Its evolution is part of its history,” Malone said.
Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53 Street, New York, NY February 1 to June 1 Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal will represent the first exhibit resulting from the recent join acquisition of the architect’s archives by MoMA and Columbia University’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. The models, drawings, and films found within the extensive collection will allow the museum to illustrate the tension in Wright’s urban thinking in the 1920s and 30s. Even as he undertook projects that contributed to the increasingly vertical nature of American cities, he created a radical horizontal vision of urban life known as Broadacre City. The elaborate model of this agrarian metropolis created by Wright and his students will be displayed alongside the architect’s designs for the San Francsico Call Building, Mahattan’s St. Mark’s-in-the-Bouwerie Towers, and a largely theoretical mile-high skyscraper.
Fifty-four years after Frank Lloyd Wright’s death, the village of Wraxall, England just killed plans to build one of the architect’s designs. Last August, Dr. Hugh Pratt, a local parish councillor, petitioned the planning board to build a Wright-inspired house on greenbelt land. Some area residents argued that the building would elevate the community’s aesthetics, but others worried that the house would set a precedent for further intrusions into the greenbelt. Opponents also expressed concern that Wright’s design is out of keeping with present-day sensibilities. “A design from the 1940s is not what a contemporary and innovative eco-friendly architect would propose. Even with some modern refinements, it’s a museum piece,” one commenter wrote online in response to Pratt’s planning application, which rejected in December 2013, according to the Bristol Post. Wraxall representative Bob Cook took offense at the the proposal and Wright's legacy, according to the Post. "I do not see why we should allow this odd American-designed house in our countryside," he told the newspaper. "Outside of the USA and Japan there is not one Frank Lloyd Wright–designed house. He can't be that influential if the rest of the world doesn't want them. It would be so wrong to allow this house to be built in our beautiful green belt." Like many of Wright’s houses, the Dr. Hugh & Mrs. Judith Pratt Residence is long and low, with horizontal courses of rough-hewn stone dominating the north elevation. The south side of the house is primarily glass. Drawings show the structure nestled into hillocks surrounding an artificial lake. In plan, the house is a series of overlapping circles. The largest circle embraces the building’s forecourt and main entry, plus a carport, an oblong living/dining space, and the circular kitchen. A semi-circular study projects off the end of the living/dining area closest to the kitchen. Off the opposite end of the open-plan space is a circular library. A hallway adjacent to the library leads to the private wing of the house, with three smaller bedrooms and, at the far end, a circular master suite. The Pratt Residence is unusual in several respects. The design on which it’s based, the House for Dr. & Mrs. O’Keeffe, was intended for a site in Santa Barbara, California—seemingly a far cry from Wraxall, England. If Pratt had been successful in securing permission to build, the house would have been the last of Wright’s posthumous works to be built with the blessing of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The Foundation program through which Pratt acquired the rights to the design—as well as the assistance of a member of the Taliesin Fellowship—was discontinued in June 2010, over growing concerns about the program’s impact on Wright’s legacy. Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation President and CEO Sean Malone argued that the shift in site from Santa Barbara to England was not as radical as it seemed. Malone’s noted that Stephen Nemtin, the Wright-trained architect charged with transforming O’Keefe House into the Pratt Residence, was satisfied that Wraxall and the original site shared many key characteristics. “Stephen visited the proposed site at Tyntesfield Springs personally to assess if the site is suitable for this design,” Malone said. “He determined that the site has the desirable balance of water, mature trees, and open views which are essential for this design—and concluded that the site is entirely appropriate and will provide the right landscape setting for the building.” (Nemtin died in August 2013, after completing a full set of drawings for the Pratt Residence.) According to the Bristol Post, Dr. Pratt is considering an appeal to the decision. But no additional unbuilt projects will follow in the wake of the Pratt Residence, in part because the cutting edge of architecture today hardly resembles that of sixty years ago. “We believe projects built during Wright’s time maintain his legacy, but projects constructed after his death are different. They have to be different to meet contemporary building codes and in using contemporary materials and technologies,” Malone said. “Moreover, they are different because they can’t possibly reflect what Wright might have done during the important phase of taking the project from initial design to execution.” Wright’s first drafts were famously conceptual. With the pool of surviving Wright apprentices dwindling, predicting how the master architect would have completed a project becomes more a matter of guesswork than informed artistic interpretation. In addition, Malone said, the certification of designs as Wright-inspired can lead to misunderstanding. “We don’t want to suggest there are ‘new’ Frank Lloyd Wright buildings,” he explained. “It seems pretty obvious, but there can be confusion. So moving forward, we do not authorize, support, sponsor, or in any way encourage construction of unbuilt projects.”
Frank Lloyd Wright fans have had plenty to celebrate lately. In December the Prairie School architect's first independent commission, the William Winslow House, went up for sale. Now there’s more good news, reports Blair Kamin for the Chicago Tribune: the balcony over Wright’s studio in Oak Park, Ill. will be open to the public during tours for the first time in 40 years. The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust will give two guided home and studio tours each day starting March 21, at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. An installation on the balcony at 951 Chicago Ave. in Oak Park will celebrate Wright’s work and that of his colleagues Marion Mahony Griffin, Walter Burley Griffin, and William Drummond. Wright, 22 at the time, designed the home studio for his family in 1889.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s first independent commission, the William Winslow House, is on the market. For $2.4 million, you can net this 5,000-square-foot home in River Forest, Illinois—a critical link in the development of Prairie Style, where Wright's horizontality and dynamic interior spaces began to take shape. The home at 515 Auvergne Place is made of roman brick, white stone and plaster, and features the architect's signature deep overhangs and stout, planar forms. A wide foyer, fireplace and built-in benches in the dining room are among its signature interior elements. Fans of the prairie style progenitor took note in October when the realtors announced their intention to sell the historic building. The family of the home's fifth and longest owners, Bill and June Walker, decided to sell shortly after June Walker died in April. Bill Walker died in 1994. It’s the first time the property has been listed since 1955. It has not been available to the public since it was included in a 1979 home walk. The William Winslow House sports Wright’s distinctive horizontal plan, but ornamented masonry and several large arches are among the elements that bear the influence of Wright’s predecessors, like Louis Sullivan. Its symmetrical approach is also somewhat atypical of the work Wright came to be known for. Winslow, publisher of House Beautiful, was Wright's first client when the architect began his own practice at age 26 in 1893. The home was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
A house designed by Edward Durell Stone, located in Darien, Connecticut, is under threat of demolition to make way for a developer’s vision: a neocolonial pastiche home. The 2,334-square-foot home is sited on a 1.1 acre wooded lot in the private community of Tokeneke. The house represents a transitional moment in Stone's multifaceted career. Constructed for client Walter Johnson, an IBM executive, the house is one of only two Stone-designed homes in the Constitution State. Designed in 1953, the house marks a pivotal turn in Stone’s architectural career. It was the end of what is defined as his austerely modern, “hair shirt” phase, a term loosely borrowed from a monastic practice of wearing horsehair shirts as repentance. Secondly, this was the year that the famously drunk architect committed to sobriety, at the behest of his second wife. Finally, the Darien house was his final work to outwardly emulate Wrightian detailing, a practice that began with Stone’s visit to Taliesin in 1940. “This is one of the last of father’s rustic vernacular homes that emulates the work of Frank Lloyd Wright,” his son, Hicks Stone, recently told AN. “The house is based on a dog trot house, which is common in the southern central U.S., but it’s a unique fusion of American vernacular and Wrightian style with Japanese elements.” Original finishes and detailing still exist in the home, such as textured rice paper shoji screens. Ornamental lighting and wood paneling also remains in good condition. At press time, sale of the home through Halstead Properties had not been finalized.
A never-before-built Frank Lloyd Wright house has been painstakingly constructed on its original site at Florida Southern College. The 1700-square-foot Usonian house, designed by Wright in 1939 as modest faculty housing, is the 13th structure by the renowned architect to be built on Florida Southern’s campus, but the first since Wright’s death in 1959. The house, which will serve as a museum dedicated to the architect and his work on campus, is the centerpiece of the college’s new Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center. As the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, a National Historic Landmark, and twice-ranked #1 Most Beautiful Campus in America, Florida Southern’s campus draws tens of thousands of visitors each year, all of which will pass through the newly constructed house. The two bedroom house is composed of 1,978 of Wright’s signature, interlocking ceramic textile blocks, handcrafted in 47 distinct shapes by an 81-year old artisan, as well as 6,000 colored glass blocks, each inserted by hand into the ceramic walls. The building’s modest scale, local materials, respect for the natural landscape, and self-consciously American style were meant to embody Wright’s “Usonian” architectural ideals. Along with an array of custom-made fittings and distinctly-Wright built-ins, the house contains reproductions of furniture Wright designed specifically for houses of this type, as well as a portrait of the architect by Yousuf Karsh. Nearby, a life-size bronze statue of Wright by noted artists Don Haugen and Teena Stern was also unveiled at the building’s opening on November 1st. “It is a singular privilege to be stewards of this paramount piece of American architectural heritage,” said college president, Dr. Anne Kerr, in a statement. “Frank Lloyd Wright is not only a part of Florida Southern’s history, but also a part of America's great history, and the Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center is a wonderful tribute to his legacy on our campus and his impact around the world." Aside from the newly constructed house, the college campus contains Wright’s only built planetarium, the only arena-style theater he ever designed, his largest built water feature, and the last specially design stained glass feature of his career.
The World Monuments Fund has announced its 2014 Watch List for cultural sites at risk by changes in economy, society, and politics within their respective countries and disrepair due to natural forces. For 2014, the Monument Watch List, compiled and released every two years since 1996, has cited 67 heritage risks in 41 countries and territories around the world. These sites range from Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1911-built Taliesin home in Wisconsin, submissive to elements of weathering, to the tree-lined Palisades cliffs in New York and New Jersey, jeopardized by corporate construction plans, to all of the cultural sites of Syria, risked by current war conflict. Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin The World Monuments Fund explains:
The low-lying structures of Taliesin seem in harmony with the rugged landscape, neither feature imposing upon the other. But the forces of nature, including exposure to the elements over time, have put the complex at risk. Taliesin was included on the 2010 Watch to draw attention to these issues, and now the Hillside Theater, the most public of the spaces at Taliesin, is suffering from water infiltration, perimeter drainage issues, a failing roof, and other problems with the building envelope. Due to the experimental nature of the design and materials used to construct Taliesin, the structures face special conservation challenges requiring extensive research and innovative solutions.Cultural Heritage Sites of Syria The World Monuments Fund explains:
Escalating violence in Syria since 2011 has had devastating effects on the country’s cultural heritage. From the ancient souk, or marketplace, in Aleppo, to the iconic Crac des Chevaliers—two castles that were built between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries as regional fortifications during the Crusades—to Qal’at al-Mudiq, an archaeological tell that forms part of the classical city of Apamea, the destruction of Syria’s most significant and symbolic sites is of urgent and primary concern, with irreversible implications for the country’s architectural legacy.The Cloisters and the Palisades, New York and New Jersey The World Monuments Fund explains:
The Cloisters Museum itself houses the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of European medieval art and incorporates monastic architectural elements in its design including stone and stained-glass panels for the doors, and windows. Since its opening in 1938, a defining feature of visiting the Cloisters is an extraordinary vista across the Hudson River to the Palisades. Plans are underway to construct a corporate headquarters and a residential complex on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, modifying zoning legislation to accommodate towers that rise above the once protected tree line of the Palisades. ... An appeal is underway, and it is hoped that inclusion on the Watch will raise awareness about the loss to future generations posed by this development and others that may follow.East Japan Earthquake Heritage Sites After a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and related tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011, the World Monuments Fund set the heritage sites of the coastal regions of Tohoku and Kanto on its 2012 Watch List. Since then, the WMF collaborated with the Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research to save over 700 national monuments affected by the disaster. Several historic architectural structures were damaged or destroyed by the power of the quake. Although progress has been made, the landmarks which are important to the tourism of the region, are still at risk, in need of grants for continued restoration. Güell Pavilions and Garden, Barcelona, Spain The World Monuments Fund explains:
After Güell's death the estate was converted into a palace for the Spanish Royal Family. The site was later acquired by the University of Barcelona during its expansion into this area in the 1950s, and it now forms part of the Avinguda Diagonal campus of the university. Public access to the garden has been limited, but a new master plan prepared by the university and the city's Municipal Institute of Urban Landscape and Quality of Life provides for improved access to the site by visitors and expanded use for university events. Repairs to the structures are necessary, and a project to rehabilitate the roof of the stable is already underway with funding from the Spanish Ministry of Education. More resources are needed to implement this well-conceived plan for the benefit of all citizens of Barcelona, and the millions who visit this enchanting city every year.Elevators of Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile The World Monuments Fund explains:
The Elevators of Valparaíso have been included on the 2014 Watch to emphasize the continuing need for the restoration of the city’s most picturesque feature and an important vehicle for social interaction. The elevators have served as the main method of transportation along the city’s steep topography and were fundamental to its urban development. They symbolize Valparaíso’s preeminence as a maritime center, a position it lost after the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. Of the 31 original elevators, only 15 remain, of which just 7 are operational. The loss of these vital transit arteries has had negative impacts on the city. A plan unifying community, municipal, and private entities in a collective effort to protect and maintain the elevators is needed to ensure their long-term survival and the revitalization of important neighborhoods in Valparaíso.Cultural Heritage Sites of Mali Since armed conflicts began in Mali in 2012, the country’s heritage sites have been endangered and have suffered some damage. According to the WMF, “nine of the sixteen mausoleums within the World Heritage Site boundaries of Timbuktu were destroyed by rebel forces.” And now, troops are advancing to encroach on the Bandiagara Escarpment in Dogon country and the natural material architectural structures there. Christ Church at Zanzibar, Tanzania The World Monuments Fund explains:
Stone Town has a number of important sites that together have created a vibrant tourist industry, but sectarian conflict, lack of financial resources, and political issues pose ongoing challenges to implementing restoration projects on many of its sites. Nevertheless, plans are under development for formal training and capacity-building programs at Christ Church Cathedral, and there are strong networks in place for local stewardship of the site. Christ Church Cathedral and the Former Slave Market Site is included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch to promote its conservation and its role in a broader revitalization strategy for Stone Town; one that will be compelling to the international community but will also support Zanzibari citizens and their local economy.Battersea Power Station, London, United Kingdom The World Monuments Fund explains:
Since 1983, Battersea Power Station has been closed to the public, marking a thirty-year period of abandonment and lack of appropriate maintenance. The station was first listed on the Watch in 2004, and its impending demolition was averted. Ten years later, the Power Station’s future is once again in question. Located on prime London real estate, the site is slated for imminent redevelopment. There is concern that current plans do not adequately protect the iconic chimneys and the important viewsheds of the power station’s silhouette. The local community is engaged and vested in the future of their swathe of London, and the international community recognizes the cultural significance of this twentieth-century icon. Inclusion on the Watch seeks to reinvigorate and contribute to conversations regarding the long-term stewardship of Battersea Power Station.The complete list by country is as follows: Argentina · Church and Monastery of St. Catherine of Siena, Buenos Aires Armenia · Bardzrakash St. Gregory Monastery, Dsegh, Lori Province Belgium · Collegiale Sainte-Croix de Liege, Liege Brazil · Serra da Moeda, Minas Gerais Chile · Elevators of Alparaíso, Valparaíso · Palacio La Alhambra, Santiago China · Pokfulam Village, Hong Kong Colombia · Ancient Ridged Fields of the San Jorge River Floodplain, Córdoba and Sucre Departments Comoros · Funi Aziri Bangwe, Ikoni, Grande Comore Ecuador · Remigio Crespo Toral Museum, Cuenca, Azuay Province Egypt · Bayt-Al-Razzaz, Cairo Ethiopia · Yemrehanna Kristos, Amhara Region France · Churches of Saint-Merri and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Paris Germany · Gaslight and Gas Lamps of Berlin, Berlin Guatemala · Uaxactun, Petén Department Guyana · Georgetown City Hall, Georgetown India · Historic City of Bidar, Karnataka · House of Shaikh Salim Chishti, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Uttar Pradesh · Juna Mahal, Dungarpur, Rajasthan Indonesia · Ngada Villages of Flores, Flores, Nusa Tenggara · Peceren and Dokan, Karo District, North Sumatra · Trowulan, Mojokerto, East Java Iraq · Khinnis Reliefs, Kurdistan Region Italy · Farnese Aviaries, Rome · Historic Center of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Abruzzo · Muro Dei Francesi, Ciampino, Province of Rome, Lazio · Venice, Venice, Veneto Japan · East Japan Earthquake Heritage Sites, Tohoku and Kanto Regions · Sanro-Den of Sukunahikona Shrine, Ozu, Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku Jordan · Damiya Dolmen Field, Damiya, Jordan Valley Kenya · Lamu Old Town, Lamu Macedonia · Monastery of Poloshko, Kavadarci Municipality Mali · Cultural Heritage Sites of Mali Mexico · Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Nuevo León · Retablos de los Altos de Chiapas, San Cristóbal de las Casas and Teopisca, Chiapas Mozambique · Island of Mozambique, Napula Province Myanbar · Yangon Historic City Center, Yangon Nigeria · Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, Osogbo, Osun State Pakistan · Shikarpoor Historic City Center, Shikarpoor Municipality Palestinian Territory · Ancient Irrigated Terraces of Battir, Bethlehem Governorate, West Bank Peru · Capilla de la Virgen Concebida de Kuchuhuasi, Quispicanchi, Cusco · Cerro Sechín, Casma, Ancash · Chan Chan, Trujilli, La Libertad · Gran Pajatén, Mariscal Céceres, San Martín Portugal · Fort of Graça, Elvas, Alentjo · Joanine Library of the University of Coimbra, Coimbra Romania · Great Synagogue of Iasi, Iasi · Wooden Churches of Northern Oltenia and Southern Transylvania, Northern Oltenia and Southern Transylvania Singapore · Bukit Brown Spain · Güell Pavilions and Garden, Barcelona · Iglesia Parroquial San Pedro Apóstol, Buenache de Alarcón, Cuenca Syria · Cultural Heritage Sites of Syria Tanzania · Christ Church Cathedral, Zanzibar, Stone Town, Zanzibar · Dar es Salaam Historic Center, Dar es Salaam · House of Wonders and Palace Museum, Stone Town, Zanzibar Turkey · Cathedral of Mren, Digor, Kars United Kingdom · Battersea Power Station, London · Deptform Dockyard and Sayes Court Garden, London · Grimsby Ice Factory and Kasbah, Grimsby, Lincolnshire · Sulgrave Manor, Sulgrave, Northamptonshire United States · Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas · George Najashima House, Studio, and Workshop, Bucks County, Pennsylvania · Henry Klumb House, San Juan, Puerto Rico · Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis, Missouri · Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin · The Cloisters and Palisades, New York and New Jersey Venezuela · Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas, Caracas
Unity Temple, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first public building, may come under new ownership as part of a $10 million deal to help restore the 105-year-old national landmark. Local nonprofit Alphawood Foundation Chicago and longtime owners the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation announced Tuesday a joint fundraising campaign aimed at fixing water damage that, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “urgently requires a multi-million-dollar rescue effort.” If the Oak Park church’s current restoration campaign raises 80 percent of the funds needed for repairs and provides an endowment for future restoration, the ownership transfer could go through. Alphawood's money counts toward that but, as Lee Bey reports, the total amount "is likely to be substantially more than the combined total of the proposed Alphawood gift and any contribution the Congregation makes." Alphawood could then oversee the restoration or create a new preservation organization to preside over the project. Unity Temple is currently presenting a series of events called Break::the::Box, which recently brought 99% Invisible podcast host Roman Mars to Oak Park.
“What if we decided we needed a little more Guggenheim?” asked New York- and Athens-based group Oiio Architecture Office. In a shocking announcement on its Facebook page, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum today disclosed that it will be expanding—vertically: "We are pleased to announce that beginning today, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will begin construction to expand the original Frank Lloyd Wright design by an additional 13 floors." The museum has always faced spatial limitations,and as the Whitney has taken to expanding over the High Line, renderings for Oiio Architecture Office show the Guggenheim rising vertically from its Fifth Avenue site, continuing the building's signature spiral form. While this expansion is sure to garner criticism from preservationists, as the buildings is currently listed with both the National Register of Historic Places and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, representatives from the museum have stated that the proposed addition will respond respectfully Wright’s original design.
The story goes like this: In 1949 an engineer named A.K. Chahroudi commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home on Petra Island in Lake Mahopac, New York, which Chahroudi owned. But the $50,000 price tag on the 5,000 square foot house was more than Chahroudi could afford, so Wright designed him a smaller, more affordable cottage elsewhere on the island. Fast forward to 1996 when Joseph Massaro, a sheet metal contractor, bought the island for $700,000, a sale that also included Wright's original yet unfinished plans. Though he says he only intended to spruce up the existing cottage and not build anything new, one can hardly fault Massaro for wanting to follow through on a home Wright once said would eclipse Falling Water. In 2000 Massaro sold his business and hired Thomas A. Heinz, an architect and Wright historian, to complete and update the design, a move that incensed the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, who promptly sued him, stating he couldn't claim the house was a true Wright, but was only "inspired" by him. Massaro was able to complete the house in 2004, fending off lawsuits by stating his intent not to sell. Now, however, he's ruffled the Wright Foundation's feathers once again by putting the house on the market for $19.9 million, 11-acre island included. Even though the house is not recognized by the Foundation, that hasn't stopped Massaro from listing it as a true Wright. In a statement to the Los Angeles Times he said, “You hear these purists that talk about how no unbuilt Frank Lloyd Wright house should ever be built because Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t here anymore. And then you take a look at this masterpiece of his—I’m sure Frank would rather have it built than not built at all." That may be true, but those purists are an outspoken bunch, citing four details in Massaro's house that Wright would never have approved of had he been alive to see its construction. First, the decorative "rubblestone," a Wright trademark, is not flush in Massaro's home, but protrude from the wall—a major Wright no-no. Second, the home's 26 skylights are domed, not flat, a choice Massaro apparently made citing flat skylights' propensity to leak (sealants, anyone?). Third, an exterior stairway that appears in several of Wright's original drawings was nixed by Massaro, as it would have landed in three feet of water due to the island's changed coastline. Lastly, Wrightians claim that the copper fascia are too shallow, a seemingly petty point of contention, but as Wright house owner Rich Herber pointed out, "It's the small details we'll never know about." To be fair, Massaro seems to have tried to stay as true to Wright's original intentions as possible. When the late Walter Cronkite, who knew Wright personally, visited the property he said, "I feel Frank in this house." Whether or not it's technically authentic and officially condoned by the Foundation, or the result of a Wright/Heinz collaboration, the world is probably a better and more beautiful place for the existence of the Massaro House, which interested buyers can arrange to visit to through Ahahlife.com. All images courtesy Ahahlife.