The Finest Frank Lloyd Wright Employee

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pharding
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The Finest Frank Lloyd Wright Employee

Post by pharding »

In my opinion the Finest FLW employee, including apprentices, is Rudolph Schindler. There were many fine architectural interns, staff architects, and apprentices that contributed to the many successful projects of FLW. The ultimate measure of any employee or apprentice is what did they do after they left the employ or apprenticeship of Frank Lloyd Wright. What body of work did they create? There is a world of difference between working for a great architect like FLW and working on your own projects with total control and total responsibility for the project. Was the work innovative with lasting impact on the profession of architecture? Undoubtedly the work of Rudolph Schindler was the most innovative and had the greatest impact on the profession of architecture. Ironically in his lifetime he was criticized as "not a serious architect". His work received some modest recognition in his lifetime, but it did not achieve the national recognition of Richard Neutra or E. Fay Jones in their lifetimes. Working with clients with modest budgets on largely residential projects, Rudolph Schindler created his own truly innovative and amazing architecture that foreshadowed the more mannered architecture of today. He certainly had lasting influence on LA modern architecture starting in the 60's when he was discovered and finally recognized as great architect. In my opinion a close second would be E. Fay Jones, with his wonderful expressive wood chapels and houses.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

Mod mom
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Post by Mod mom »

Although I'm certainly partial, I'll suggest Tony Smith to the list. He veered away from architecture (not enjoying the compromises when dealing with clients) and despite few buildings, his sculpture impacted the art world.

http://content.time.com/time/covers/0,1 ... 13,00.html

SDR
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Post by SDR »

It's hard to argue with the proposition that Schindler was Wright's most creative employee; much has been written about him already in these pages.

The comparison to other noted apprentices is illuminating. John Lautner stands as the other Wright associate to have made his own mark in a big way -- and perhaps, like Schindler, to be both highly original and, at the same time, largely ignored in his own lifetime, at least before he reached the age at which Schindler passed from the scene.

John Howe could be compared to E Fay Jones in terms of taking Wright's work as the model for their own output, with Jones's name being perhaps better known to the lay public. Thus we have four Wrightians who made a success of an independent practice of architecture. Like some others I find Schindler to be the most interesting of the bunch.

Lloyd Wright certainly deserves equal attention, with his own unique take on his father's example.

The list of those who spent time with Wright and went on to significant artistic output is seemingly not large, and does include names like Smith and Soleri, to name just two. I wonder if anyone has compiled such a list.

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Schindler is unarguably the best of the FLW alumni/ae after going out on his own. As an employee of FLW, whose job it should have been to follow his employer's example as closely as possible (as FLW did while in Adler & Sullivan's employ), I think RMS fell short. His understanding of FLW was not unadulterated by his own aesthetic.

Better apprentices and employees include William Drummond, Aaron Green, Jack Howe, John DeKoven Hill, Robert Beharka, and any others who subordinated their own creative impulses while working for FLW. On his own, RMS was as creative as FLW, but in his own, unique way. With regards to greatness in residential design, RMS is FLW's only competition.

pharding
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Post by pharding »

FLW put Schindler in a position of trust. When FLW was in Japan with he Imperial Hotel, Schindler ran the Chicago office. Schindler was involved in FLW's LA projects as a trusted employee.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Which relates to Roderick's statement . . . how ?


I've been intrigued by this passage in McCoy's Five California Architects (p 167):

Image

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

That is true, Paul, but as a close study of Barnsdall will show, RMS did not quite get a firm grip on what FLW was trying to do, either at Hollyhock or Residence A, his principal responsibilities. The 1919 Shampay Project (Mono 4/192-5), a riff on the Hollyhock plan, is listed as a FLW work, but in all likelihood was done beginning to end by RMS. It too shows little of FLW. Not that this demeans Schindler's work on his own, but as an employee, he didn't measure up to some of the Oak Park gang or later apprentices.

SDR, Esther McCoy was an apologist for RMS (as well as Raphael Soriano), so her assessment of the rift between FLW and RMS must be filtered through that fact.

pharding
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Post by pharding »

When Schindler applied to take the professional examination to be a registered architect in California, he needed letters from past architect employers. FLW wrote such a mildly negative letter that the state architectural board would not accept Schindler's experience with FLW. This created a major problem for Schindler which he overcame with great difficulty.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Roderick, David Gebhard seems to have been a Schindler supporter, as well; should we discount what he wrote about the architect ? Despite failings, I think we can be grateful for McCoy's access to Schindler. I don't suspect her of manufacturing the letters she quotes or paraphrases above; do you ?

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

All I said was that McCoy's personal relationships with Schindler and Soriano should be taken into account when reading her books. I said nothing about her concocting anything that was not true. But there is often a 'tone' in the writing of one whose closeness to the subject might affect objectivity, or the reverse, as was the case with Brendon Gill. I knew both Esther and David, at least casually; David was by far the more objective and informed expert on Schindler. Esther had no patience with anyone who disagreed with her pronouncements.

I haven't dug into this FLW/RMS fracas for lack of interest, frankly. I doubt all has been aired, and the truth of the matter lies somewhere between what has been written and what was said in the past.

FLW suffers from too many accurate reports of his hot temper and willingness to hold a grudge, while RMS seems, from all accounts that I've read, to have been more even-tempered, which tends to put FLW at a disadvantage.

Sequoia
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Post by Sequoia »

Walter Burley Griffin was certainly a fine employee that has not yet been mentioned in this thread. To pick one outstanding person seems a folly to me. Especially under the title of employee. Many people were employed by Mr Wright in many capacities, who's to say he wasn't better served by a driver or housekeeper?

pharding
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Post by pharding »

The criteria was "The ultimate measure of any employee or apprentice is what did they do after they left the employ or apprenticeship of Frank Lloyd Wright". Walter Burley Griffen certainly had a fine post-Wright career. However Schindler created a more impressive body of work. I would put Walter Burley Griffin in the top 10 using the criteria in the original post, which would IMO be Schindler, E. Fay Jones, Richard Neutra, Walter Burley Griffin, John Lautner, Alden Dow, Marion Mahoney Griffen, John Howe, George Mann Niedecken, and one other apprentice to be named later.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Neutra is an interesting case; he arguably (I believe) spent less time with Wright, contributed less to that man's work, and went on to make an architecture less clearly influenced by Wright than any of the others in that list. Were it not for Neutra's own exceptional career, I believe we would omit him from mention in connection with Wright altogether . . .

SDR

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