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An Encouraging Anecdote

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 10:52 am    Post subject: An Encouraging Anecdote Reply with quote

An architect who graduated from the Pratt Institute related to me that, in his first class with a certain design professor, the students were asked to name architects who influenced them. Most of the students cited the likes of Kahn and Goff, but, when this architect's turn came, he said Frank Lloyd Wright. The professor responded huffily that he had tried but had never been able to find anything of value in Wright's work.

Two years later, the same architect had the same professor for a building systems class. In the first session of that class, the professor gave a long, glowing presentation on Frank Lloyd Wright's work. Afterwards, the architect asked the professor about this reversal of attitude. Apparently, the professor had had the opportunity to tour the Johnson Wax Building and, immediately upon entering, realized that he had been completely wrong about Wright.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As an architecture student in the mid '80's at Carnegie-Mellon, I found that studio professors, with some exceptions, avoided references to Wright when speaking with or reviewing studio work with students. Instead, Louis Kahn (with great reverence), Alvar Aalto, and Le Corbusier were most often sited as sources for the student to study.

I asked one professor why Wright was typically avoided. The answer I received was that his 'style' is too personal, and is too often parroted by students without an understanding of the underlying concepts that were either consciously or subconsciously employed by Wright. Also, he left behind no known sketchbooks to observe his thought process. Kahn, Aalto, and Le Corbusier provide clearer 'less stylized' examples of basic concepts to be taught in a studio setting and left behind volumes of preliminary studies available for student consumption.

At that time and since, I took this to mean we must learn to crawl before we run. To study Wright's work in depth is to drink from a firehose. I've poured over the Monographs off and on for 15 years and continue to discover the subtleties, clarity, and genius of Wright's work. Other architect's work is good and even great at times, but Wright was different.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great analysis! Perhaps one needs to stay at a FLW rental to fully understand. When these houses were first built they were not open to the public. Now a few of them have opend up. Take advantage!!!
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2006 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[url] I agree -- DRN is right on the money. FLLW's work was so ideosyncratic that it's hard to imagine anybody else taking it and advancing it. But many of his disciples tried, most without a lot of success. I feel a little more forgiving of Peters et al in light of what DRN wrote, but I still wonder if they wouldn't have been better off making a clean break a la Tafel.[/url]

"Well, there you are!"
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