Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Wright way to live

Frank Lloyd Wright turns 150—and his architectural creations don't look a day over...well, who can say?

Few other architects have transcended the centuries, challenged conventions, mastered materials, brought us back to nature, and rethought how we live (or should live) as much as the wonderman from Wisconsin who strove to make architecture mirror life itself—the life of nature, the life of mankind, the life-giving properties of the organic materials and geometrics he integrated into his designs. 

In his quest for the natural house, he hugged the earth, pierced the sky, romanced the stones, talked to the trees, and let the sun shine in by putting natural resources to wisest use while honoring their origins, exposing their essence, and letting them breathe in the spaces they created and grew out of—rather than keeping them in boxes the way the cookie-cutter colonialism he abhorred was doing, and still does.

Image by Freiluft, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Unlike the erectors of those prefab Colonials, Levittown cottages or Lustron houses that could be thrown up and torn down quickly without regard for craftsmanship, context or creativity, Wright took his time to work out the intricacies of how the interior spaces would interact with one another to reflect domestic circulatory patterns. 

Weltzheimer/Johnson House (1949), Oberlin, Ohio. Photo by Dirk Bakker.
Courtesy of Allen Memorial Art Museum and Wikimedia Commons.
He also considered how the materials would merge with the right balance of light and shadow, color and neutrality, and solid and void, and how the house could best relate to its site rather than molest it into something other than what nature planned. As Wright wrote in his 1932 autobiography:
No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill.
Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.
Hanna-Honeycomb House (1937), Stanford, California.
Photo by Fizbin, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
No wonder so many people are unhappy with their homes after a few years. Wright designed his Usonian houses, like those pictured here, for the owners' long-lasting pleasure and use in styles so eternally modern and flexible they never go passé the way the styles of past ages go. 

That's why we can't tell on first glance how old Frank Lloyd Wright's designs are. They're perpetually fresh, new, and as self-renewing as the nature that originated them, so they take their time with the aging process.

Photo by Sailko, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
And so did Wright, leaving us at 91, before he could see his final magnum opus, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, to completion. For it took its time, too; its nautilus shell structure, swirling up in a helix rather than shooting up in an elevator, was harder to build than the towers of the kind Donald Trump slapped his name on. 

(Which means the Guggenheim would also take its time being torn down. As a New Yorker cartoon put it upon its completion in 1959, it would be "a bitch to implode.")


Happy birthday, Frank. You don't look a day over 150. Nor do any of your designs—all because of the timelessly self-renewing powers of nature that built them. Frank architecture done the Wright way, indeed.

Thank you for visiting. I welcome your comments!
No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/f/franklloyd143144.html
No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/f/franklloyd143144.html
No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/f/franklloyd143144.html

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