The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

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elevatorscene
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Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:17 am

The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by elevatorscene »

My purpose of writing is get more information for a research piece I am working on about the elevators of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The landscape hugging architect rarely designed for the vertical, however in one rare and special case he truly reached for the stars -- The Illinois or the 'mile-high tower'.

In my research I found a single image of a model of The Illinois (see attached) on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum. A representative from the MAM Research Center has directed me to the Design Museum as their records indicate that the Skyscraper Model was loaned to the exhibition from the Vitra Design Museum. Below I have included a link to the original exhibit.

Frank Lloyd Wright
6/2/2002
http://1995-2015.undo.net/it/mostra/7537

I have a few questions and am hoping to find somebody who could help me in finding out more about this architectural model. I have included some below to get the conversation started:

1) Is this an original model by Frank Lloyd Wright?

If so then:
2) What was the year of production?
3) What is the scale and size of the model.
4) Where is the model located now?
5) Is there any more images or records of it?

If not then:
6) If not then who built the model?
6) When was it built?

Thanks for your help and I look forward to hearing from you.

.j

Image

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by SDR »

Hello, and welcome to Wright Chat. Thanks for your interesting query.

The model in the linked piece is a section of the Broadacres model, originally constructed by Mr Wright's apprentices in 1935. It was extensively refurbished for the Wright exhibition of 1940, at MoMA in New York. The tower in that model is not the "Mile-High Illinois" design of 1956 that many are familiar with.

https://franklloydwright.org/revisiting ... acre-city/

The bottom third of this page http://www.steinerag.com/flw/Books/sixty.htm#MileHigh contains material, including many images, of the Mile-High tower.

S

Roderick Grant
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by Roderick Grant »

The Broadacre model was not only different from the Illinois, but much smaller than the monumental model made for the 1994 MoMA retrospective on FLW, which model I assume they commissioned and still have. It is so tall, it had to be put on display in the 2-story lobby of the museum. Perhaps Steinerag has some important information, but in scanning what SDR posted, I noticed that the building's height was noted as 510 stories. That is not correct; it was to be 528 stories, one mile = 5,280', 10' per floor.

FLW's last book, "A Testament," has 10 pages on the project, including stats and a 4-foldout perspective. In the description of the building, he writes that the elevators would be 5 stories high and power by atomic energy ... whatever that means. The book has been out of print for a long time, but was reprinted in 2005. Amazon has copies ranging in price from $198.95 (first edition) to $10.95. There is even a copy in German for $33.33.

JimM
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Location: Austin,Texas

Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by JimM »

Roderick beat me to it, but posting the following since I can't get the twenty minutes back!

From the "Illinois" Wikipedia page:

In his 1957 book, A Testament, Wright described the proposed structure with floor plans of the “base”, 320th, and 528th (highest) floors.[1] The floor plan for the 320th floor shows a single, open staircase, not separated from the surrounding office space in any way, not even with a door. The floor plan of the 528th floor shows that access is solely by a single elevator, with no staircase at all. Wright believed that because his building was fireproof, any fire precaution

I no longer have my copy, but "A Testament" (Horizon Press, 1957) probably does have the best, if not only, plans and details available-not to mention of course Wright's own commentary.

The following link offers a few of those plans and drawings, still quite legible behind the annoying copyright imprints:

http://www.scalarchives.com/web/ricerca ... ita&Sort=7

Roderick Grant
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by Roderick Grant »

What ought to be done is an examination of the effect of wind on the tower. Imagine being on an upper floor during a wind storm. You might find yourself in Michigan at the end of it. *TWANG!!* like a slingshot.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by SDR »

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/real ... -wind.html

If elevatorscene needs the data and images found in "A Testament," I can provide those.

S

Reidy
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Location: Fremont CA

Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by Reidy »

Incidental information: John Geiger once said that elevator/stairway shafts were a problem for the Price Tower. It was an adaptation of a 1920s design for the St. Mark's Tower in New York. Wright widened the shafts to meet 1950s code without fundamentally rethinking the floor plans for the resultant reduced area.

elevatorscene
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Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:17 am

Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by elevatorscene »

Hey Everyone, going through the comments but I wanted to jump ahead and say that the link for the image of the model I was referring too failed.

Here it is again for reference

https://imgur.com/gallery/59AA7uN

Roderick Grant
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by Roderick Grant »

Reidy, that sounds suspicious. If the elevators were any smaller, they would be unusable. If shafts were altered at all, it must have been by inches.

Rood
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Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by Rood »

Elevatorscene ... the skyscraper illustrated in your opening post is the never constructed 50 story Rogers Lacy Hotel, designed for Dallas, Texas in 1946-47.

Tom
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Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by Tom »

I'm pretty sure in 'A Testament' Wright claimed there would be "no sway" at the top floor
because of his "tripod" construction.

I liked the shot of the model posted by elevatorscene.
This building is one I've never been able to fully comprehend - geometrically.
Would love to see that model and better yet the 2-stroy one RG talked about.

The design does strike me as one of his best and most original.
It's my favorite tall buidling design period.

Will go back to the drawings and study it once again

SDR
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Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by SDR »

I believe Reidy said the Price Tower elevator shafts were enlarged, not reduced, compared to those in the St Marks towers . . .

I've never seen the Mile-High model. I would have to assume it is at MoMA now, along with other models. The Avery has the drawings, MoMA the physical artifacts.


Here is Wright's text on the project, from A Testament (1957), pp 239-40:

Image
Image

DRN
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Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by DRN »

I doubt the model in the photo at this link
https://imgur.com/gallery/59AA7uN
was built at Taliesin during Wright’s lifetime.
I recall seeing a model for the Illinois built specifically for the 1994 MoMA exhibition...this is that model.
Last edited by DRN on Sat Mar 28, 2020 7:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

juankbedoya
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Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by juankbedoya »

SDR wrote:
Fri Mar 27, 2020 6:22 pm
I believe Reidy said the Price Tower elevator shafts were enlarged, not reduced, compared to those in the St Marks towers . . .

I've never seen the Mile-High model. I would have to assume it is at MoMA now, along with other models. The Avery has the drawings, MoMA the physical artifacts.


Here is Wright's text on the project, from A Testament (1957), pp 239-40:
Wooow.... What an interesting information..!!

Tom
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Location: Black Mountain, NC

Re: The Illinois 'Mile-High' Tower Architectural Model

Post by Tom »

... so the underlying geometry of this building?

Seems like there are basically two conceptual interlocking tapering faceted geometries.
One seems to be the base plan four sided diamond shape.
The other seems to be more obscure, in opposition to the the base plan and containing the elevators.
The base plan volume seems to taper into invisibility at the top
whereas the elevator volume, invisible at the base seems, seems to emerge with the increase in height.
Wondering if each of those could be pulled apart an modelled separately?
Just for conceptual understanding.
Don't think it's really that simple - but seems to be something like that.

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