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Frank Lloyd Wright

.. ever-present factor in his work. Frank Lloyd Wright had a response to the modern city, which maintained that the city and the countryside were to be made into one Broadacre City. This model of Wrights became his lasting achievement and was produced by a vision that sought for a decentralized, agrarian, democratic place. Frank Lloyd Wrights utopian model came about in response to the social and economic misfortunes of the Great Depression.

As Fishman points out, the 1929 stock market crash strengthened Wrights belief that the nation needed a change in its physical and economic organization (122). The change that Wright suggested was to be brought through a model that decentralized the physical and the social power of the modern city, with the inclusive fusion of Jeffersonian democratic ideals with technology. The imagery of Broadacre City was developed through a philosophical convergence of the organic and the inorganic. From the structure of the homes to Wrights notion of work, there was an inherent attempt to fuse the ideas of pre-modern agrarian life with the ideas of modern industrial life. Wrights merging of town and country is an attempt to unite the polarized aspects of the city and the country.

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As Fishman explains, Wrights Broadacre vision was one that sought to have no more distinction between urban and rural lifestyles as technology served as a mechanism for the promotion of democratic beliefs and citizen connectivity that serves to unite the rural landscape into a viable city. The architecture used to create a city within the valley represents the simple or organic use of structure. Brought from his childhood experiences in the countryside, Wright explains that organic architecture shapes democratic life through its simplicity. Wright notes that organic architecture connects the citizen to her land in such a way that roots her in freedom from the constraining notion of the centralized city. Contrary to the city upon the hill, Wright envisions a city without walls, a city without limits, stretching across an infinite plane.

Organic architecture places the individual into this plane where democracy triumphs and builds the great new city and where no person will live as a servile or savage animal; holing in or trapped in some cubicle on an upended extension of some narrow street (96). Therefore, Wrights use of organic architecture was one that sought to create a city where the citizen is free in both mind and body. Broadacre City is seen as Frank Lloyd Wrights enduring legacy. The creation of Broadacre City represents the accumulated knowledge and beliefs that Wright envisioned for the design of a democratic city. Although Wrights vision of the Broadacre City was in a constant state of change and expansion, there were common elements that brought his decentralized, democratic vision to life. One important feature of Broadacre City was the Usonian home situated on one acre of land housing each single family.

The simple nature of these homes, dedicated by Wright to the citizens of the United States, represented a reverence to organic life centering around individuality and family life. The homes gave the individual a freedom from others, especially since the dwellings were spatially placed in the models four square miles. Other important features of Broadacre City are Wrights different institutions used in conjunction with activity and function. The community center was used to promote entertainment facilities and social gathering spaces. The governmental administrative buildings were placed at a distance from the housing facilities. The institutions that were of the most importance to Wright were the educational facilities.

Fishman points out that Wright placed such as a high emphasis on education so that individuals could master the modern technologies as well as gain as understanding of the wisdom of the past (137). But, Wright was critical of the growing specialization of knowledge because it contributed to the expansion of corporate interests. Wright referred to his ideal school as a culture center that placed an emphasis on nature and individualism. In his view, the children at the ideal school would be taught to be Individualists capable of intelligent cooperation with Principle, growing up not mistaking personality for individuality or license for freedom (189). To uphold the notions of individuality in production, design centers played an important ole in the creation of products in such a way that preserved the independence of the citizens.

Wright points out that these institutions would do much to reclaim and vitalize all American society (191). Centered in this philosophy, organic architecture will serve as the basis for weaving the democratic fabric throughout the city. Broadacre City was a response to the emerging congestive cities. Alofsin points out that Broadacre City allowed for the reemergence of the citizen and his transformation from citizen to the inhabitant of the landscape (14). Wrights use of organic architecture and his vision of Broadacre City meshed the city into the countryside in such a way to preserve nature, individualism, and democracy.

Implicit in Wrights vision of the city is the necessary connection to nature. In many of his works, structures are built into the natural landscape. Wright stressed architectural design as truthful and obedient to purpose, site, occupants, and materials. He believed that buildings should be integral units, simple, unique, serving civilization and eliminating the box effect of the past. Space in Wrights design was fluid, free, and informal.

His scales were brought down to create comfort for the occupant and a feeling of oneness with the house and the natural settings. Wright used materials, which would blend into the setting, and limited the variety of materials within a project. His exteriors and interiors of a building varied little, as he philosophized that one should move naturally into a shelter, feeling a certain flow rather than an abrupt transition. Treating the building as an integral unit, Wright often designed down to the smallest detail including all dining ware, furniture, and statues. His geometric designs were interpretations of nature.

In furniture, textiles, and accessories, all designed by Wright, simplicity, respect for nature, and dignity if the individual was considered. His was an architecture of democracy for an era of political freedom. Although Wright claimed that his design was driven by principle, his materials decisions were not consistent with any discernable paradigm except for the production of beauty. Patterson expresses this concept in stating, Wrights response to Louis Sullivans claim of searching for the rule so broad as to admit no exception to be revealing in this regard (8). It has been shown that, although Wrights materials were important to his architectural expression, his imagery was not always harmonious with the nature of substances and products as defined by technical properties. This circumstance can be reconciled with his artistic success and his claim to have focused on the nature of materials (237). Most of Wrights architecture is characterized by the purposeful role of materials in the design – whether or not their nature is expressed.

The visual success of these buildings gives the materials a sense of correctness (242) Kaufmann writes in Commentaries on Frank Lloyd Wright that, Wright saw human life as one of the processes of nature, not as some exceptional form of creation. Within nature people are active, adapting nature to suit their wants; they contribute feedback within the natural system. Similarly, Wright saw architecture as a natural process of human life, in turn nourishing its parent system. To Wright architecture human kind and nature were joined in a grand dynamic continuity, and continuity within architecture indicated that people were aligning themselves – as he believed they should – with the natural forces of life (123). Romantic genius, artistic critic, and heroic individualist were the labels Wright attached to himself and the standards against which he measured his own behavior. The secret of Wrights architecture will not be found on the surface but in its heart.

If we wish to find it for ourselves, we must make our own way to the unity he managed to discover in so many corners of his universe: in the romantic words of a Concord preacher father, in the geometric lessons of a kindergarten toy, in the gentle prospects of a Wisconsin landscape, in the beauty of a Japanese temple and, perhaps, even in the persistent leaks of Wrights own roofs. Frank Lloyd Wright Bibliography Alofsin, Anthony. Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect. New York: H. N.

Abrams, 1994. Brooks, H. Allen. Writings on Wright. Cambridge: Mit Press, 1981. Fishman, Robert.

Urban Utopias in the Twentieth Century: Ebenezer Howard, Frank Lloyd Wright, and LeCorbusier. Cambridge: Mit Press, 1989. Gill, Brendan. Many Masks: A Life of Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: G.P.

Putnams Sons, 1987. Kaufmann, Edgar, Jr. 9 Commentaries on Frank Lloyd Wright. Cambridge: Mit Press, 1989. Lind, Carla. The Wright Style.

New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. Patterson, Terry L. Frank Lloyd Wright and the Meaning of Materials. New York: International Thomson Publishing, Inc., 1994. Rosenbaum, Alvin. Usonia: Frank Lloyd Wrights Design for America.

Washington, D.C.: The Preservation Press, 1993. Secrest, Meryle. Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc, 1992. Wright, Frank Lloyd.

The Living City. New York: Horizon Press, 1958. Art Essays.


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