Frank Lloyd Wright Study Tour

Archsign team member Lachlan Michael and his wife Annie partook last month in a Study Tour to the United States of America organised by the Building Designers Association of Victoria, trailing the journeys and history of acclaimed American Architect Frank Lloyd Wright. We asked him to share his story and insight experiences being also his first time in the United States.

 Lachlan and Annie at the Robie House, IL -  "Our tour group had a private cocktail evening at the Robie House. We were free to wander and explore the three-storey home".

Lachlan and Annie at the Robie House, IL - "Our tour group had a private cocktail evening at the Robie House. We were free to wander and explore the three-storey home".

Coinciding with the much-anticipated ‘Frank Lloyd Wright at 150 – Unpacking the Archive’ exhibition at New York’s MoMA, the Building Designers Association in collaboration with Impact Events ran a comprehensive 10-day architectural study tour through New York, Chicago and Madison. While the tour had an emphasis on Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, opportunities were taken to explore the greater contextual urban fabric both of past and present.

Highlights

The ‘Frank Lloyd Wright at 150 – Unpacking the Archives’ exhibition at MoMA (New York City) marked the beginning of our exploration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s broad scope of built and unbuilt projects. On display were sketches, hand renderings, short videos, models, fabrics, furniture, lights, stained glass and building mouldings. A number of sketches revealed an interesting history behind the development of his famous Guggenheim Museum, where the size and location of the main rotunda changed numerous times, as well as the agreed exterior colour of the building. At one stage, Wright was insisting that it should be red (specifying rose marble).

 Rose Marble Guggenheim concept hand rendering at MOMA exhibit and as built, NYC.

Rose Marble Guggenheim concept hand rendering at MOMA exhibit and as built, NYC.

Rookery.jpg

The Rookery – The name comes from the former building occupying this site, which had an open-air internal light well which attracted a large number of roosting birds. Built 1888, it is considered the oldest remaining high-rise buildings in Chicago. The lobby has been restored to Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1905 remodelling where much of the original exposed steelwork was covered with white marble with gold inlay stencilwork. Lights also designed by Wright. During restorations of the lobby commencing in 1989, heritage specialists decided to leave one of the original steel columns as a reminder of the original Burnham and Root design.

 Taliesin III (main residence & studio) and Plunge Pool.

Taliesin III (main residence & studio) and Plunge Pool.

Stonework laid in a particular way where long horizontal elements protrude to evoke a sense of being a natural element of the hillside landscape. Wright designed things to be in harmony with nature. Wright would use readily available, cheap materials throughout Taliesin, often re purposing materials. The background to this plunge pool is adorned by an arbour (painted in FLW’s favourite colour red) made of reclaimed plumbing pipes.

 The Taliesin is littered with numerous bespoke structures such as the midway barn and the Romeo and Juliet windmill.

The Taliesin is littered with numerous bespoke structures such as the midway barn and the Romeo and Juliet windmill.

 Frank Lloyd Wright works are prolific throughout Oak Park – the highlights being the iconic Unity Temple and his own home and studio (just a block away from each other)

Frank Lloyd Wright works are prolific throughout Oak Park – the highlights being the iconic Unity Temple and his own home and studio (just a block away from each other)