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A generous set of ellipse templates would have enabled the young draftsman to complete his arcade . . . ?
all images Â© 2009 by TASCHEN GmbH and by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
The ground-floor windows need to be redrawn to match the architect's proportions -- and the contents within the
central opening might be made of dark material, to restore the gestalt of a deep opening, as Wright envisioned the
(If this were an existing structure, would we want the owner to rearrange the exterior to suit some new interior
arrangement ? Would anyone punch new window openings into Unity Temple ? Doesn't recreation of historic
architecture demand the same respect ?)
Wright's building is entirely shingled. The note to the punched windows reads, "Hinged Sash to Swing In -- Wood
Dividers." The separation of the forms via their material into two classes, introduces a new element to the design,
as does the choice of colors.
Finally, the way the building meets the (paved) ground is unacceptable . . . isn't it ?
Â© ZEBRADOG DYNAMIC ENVIRONMENT DESIGN
Thus the four elevations of this symmetrical solid are as much alike as possible; the arches on all sides open to the interior. It does appear that, on the landward elevation, the triplets of tall windows appearing on both exposed faces of each cube are replaced by a pair of openings. These may be doors, into the two spaces marked "entrance" on the plan -- one of which at least contains a stair -- but if doors they are not shown with the customary swings. The off-shore pair of spaces are marked "keeper" and "storage."
So, we have an object which seems to recognize Richardson, Palladio, and the English Arts and Crafts in equal parts. Its rigorous bilateral symmetry will appear again at Unity Temple. The drum is fully exposed and expressed on the interior; the ancillary corner spaces are of relatively limited utility. One could understand a move to re-think the interior for new uses -- unhappily, if the result were to lose much of the cylinder . . .
"For some time now both the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation have stopped allowing the building of posthumous FLW designs. After the Buffalo buildings, it was determined that this would be the policy. As we have seen, it is not possible to properly interpret these posthumous designs without the original architect present. There is always a need to 'adjust' the original design for the site, materials and use of the client, etc. It doesn't create authenticity and credit to Wright's legacy, and had to be stopped. I thought it only fair to let you know the situation."
In a follow-up, she added: "Many people wish to experience unbuilt Wright structures and Archives provide that opportunity."
My personal preference is for new architecture to be built -- in and for its time, to give new architects a chance to shine, like the 26-year-old Wright -- and for classic works of architecture to be expensively restored. But, for the sake of argument: A number of Wright's buildings were completed by Taliesin without the "original architect" being present, including the Marin County Civic Center and the Spring Green restaurant that is now the Taliesin Visitors' Center. Should those be considered ersatz?
This story brought up the Yahara boathouse, designed for Madison but realized in Buffalo. I fault its texture and color: it's a smooth-skinned blue-gray version of what should have been warm sand plaster or Unity Temple concrete, in my view -- depending upon what Wright specified. If it was built without the input of Wright's construction documents, it should have been left alone ?
Even the alteration of existing structures is a part of the story. The re-coloring of the Guggenheim, based it would seem upon faulty memory, needs to be corrected -- as I see it.
"Many people wish to experience unbuilt Wright structures and [the] Archives provide that opportunity." Well, yes -- up to a point. No one will ever know for sure what a Wright design really entails, without a physical realization of that design. A manipulable digital model can bring us much closer than the paper documents, and perhaps the efforts should be placed in that direction ?
The Canadians also have a plan to rebuild the demolished 1914 pavilion in Banff National Park.
The alterations to the plan, materials and use, make trying to sell this as Frank Lloyd Wright ludicrous.
Without looking (yet) at specific examples, it might be said that those projects which recreate previously existing Wright structures, or for which construction documents were completed during Wright's lifetime, have stood a better chance of being faithfully and admirably executed, than projects which didn't proceed to working drawings.
Projects begun by Wright but completed after his death may or may not be regarded as fully the work of the architect. It could also be demonstrated, I think, that at least a couple of recreations better demonstrate Wright at his best than do a few standing Wright buildings . . .
All of the new renderings illustrate the boathouse on a plinth, detached from the water. This is not a boathouse, rather it is a visitor's center/comfort station/food court perched above the water. Wright's design had the water of the lake in the building as a basin and slip to allow boarding of the shells in a semi controlled climate.
If the programmatic use of the building is going to be totally different, then a totally different building should be built. This is at best an unrelated building whose outward form is inspired by an unbuilt building. Susan is right, if this watered down building is constructed, it will blur Wright's original intentions and leave an inaccurate impression or message with the public. To build an unbuilt house as a house is one thing, this is entirely another.
Lovness Cottage (1976) is certainly an excellent posthumous building, though it had the constructed Peterson Cottage to emulate. The Feldman House (1974) in Berkeley seems to have been built true to the Bell/Mauer Project plan. So it isn't always a bad thing. The current subject? Not so much. Perhaps residences are easier to do (Chahroudi notwithstanding) than non-residential designs where the public have to be considered.
Even the glazing of the arcade beneath the conical roof, here, makes much more of a difference to the effect of the building than its promoters may be
aware. Wright's wooden pyramid is happily and proudly hollow -- in keeping perhaps with his criticism of, what was it, the Pantheon ?
The built Mendota boathouse, presented in Taschen I under an identical heading and bearing a project number four digits earlier, also depends for its
charm on its wooden construction. Its remarkable U-shaped roof, perfectly shingled, is a marvelous sight in the photographs.