The Wright Stuff

“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.” –Frank Lloyd Wright

Words to live by.

This Friday, we toured the Guggenheim’s tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright, architect of the Guggenheim Museum, as a celebration of the building’s 50th anniversary.

FLW Fallingwater

Now when I think of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, I see Fallingwater or the Herbert Jacobs house–Usonian design, organic–at one with nature or Prairie Style and some Arts and Crafts motifs thrown into the mix. Rest assured, there is so much more to this exhibit. The number of drawings of built and unbuilt works is unbelievable.

FLW MarinFairPavilion

And the designs are far beyond my wildest F.L.W. imaginings…  For example, above is but one of the extensive drawings of the open air pavilion for special events at the Marin County Civic Center.

Or the Gordon Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium to be built atop Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland. Imagine what it would have been like to drive up the mountain, continue to circle round this magnificent structure arising from the mountain, park

FLW GordonStrongAutomobileObjective-

and then view the interior of the spectacular planetarium. Of all the models on display this one was just a sight to behold. Would that I had a picture of the interior of the model planetarium–lit up from the inside (but no cameras allowed).  The cross-section below does not do the model justice.

FLW Gordon-Strong-Automobile-Objective Planetarium

And then as a lover of all things asian style, I have to mention the Imperial Hotel built in Tokyo, Japan.  Just about the time of the opening, it sustained the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.  While the structure held, it did sink a bit, was ultimately considered structurally unsafe and was later demolished.  Love the reflecting pool.  My husband, a landscape architect, commented on the depth of colors on these drawings–really quite remarkable…


Finally, one cannot visit the Guggenheim without commenting on this iconic design.  First of all, Wright was no lover of the cities.  He had an entirely different vision of urban planning, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself when you visit the exhibit.  Note how the design elements from the unbuilt Gordon Strong Automobile Objective appear here in the Guggenheim… Imagine red?

FLW Guggenheim Red inkdrawing

According to Wright, the Guggenheim was to be “one great space on a single continuous floor.  The eye encounters no abrupt change, but is gently led and treated as if at the edge of a shore watching an unbreaking wave…one floor flowing into another…”

SRGM 004

The Guggenheim was completed in 1953 just 6 months after Wright died. Wright said his goal was to “make the building and the painting an uninterrupted, beautiful symphony such as never existed in the World of Art before.”  I would have to say he succeeded.

FLW GuggenheimReceptiondrawing


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