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Who were the "best" apprentices ?
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Paul Ringstrom



Joined: 17 Sep 2005
Posts: 3740
Location: Mason City, IA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 11:55 am    Post subject: Who were the "best" apprentices ? Reply with quote

Mr. Wright was notorious for not "teaching" organic architecture to his apprentices, but instead relied on their picking up the basic principles by osmosis. Some apprentices "got it" better than others and went on to produce an independent body of work that exemplified his principles.

Of the 263 of his apprentices (1932-1959, not all of whom went on to practice architecture) which one's work have you seen that you thought was exceptional?

It might be interesting to separate them into either Commercial or Residential categories.

I'll start off the discussion by putting forth three of my favorites in the Residential category: Alden B. Dow, E. Fay Jones, Don Erickson.
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Reidy



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 1351
Location: Northern CA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lautner is my favorite, probably in part because he's local.

Twombly, in his biography of Wright, says that more important architects came out of the Oak Park Studio, where they were paid staffers, than out of the Fellowship.
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Wrightgeek



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 1548
Location: Westerville, Ohio

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 2:34 pm    Post subject: FLW Apprentices Reply with quote

I have only been exposed to the work of a limited number of apprentices, but of those whose work I have experienced firsthand, I would have to pick the following, in order of preference:

1. Richard Neutra (not sure that he or Schindler qualify as apprentices)

2. E. Fay Jones

3. John Lautner

4. Alden B. Dow

I'm sure there are other worthy individuals whose work I have yet to discover and enjoy.
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Eric Saed



Joined: 15 Jun 2006
Posts: 103
Location: Minne-sO-tah Norwegian living in exile in Lubbock, Texas

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Undoubtedly, my #1 choice would be the incomparable John H. Howe

Click here to see the Flickr album I've created of a fraction of Howe's work

Aaron Green was another master apprentice

Click here for Green's legacy and his firm's continuing practice

Alden Dow and Fay Jones would round out my "Hall of Fame".

Others I admire were/are Herb Fritz, Jim Dresser, and John DeKoven Hill, to name just a few.
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dkottum



Joined: 09 Jan 2005
Posts: 394
Location: Battle Lake, MN

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 2:59 pm    Post subject: Best Apprentices Reply with quote

John Howe because he continued to shake nice Usonians out of his sleeve long after FLLW was gone. Others tried to conceal their copies under often poorly-conceived detailing, but Howe understood Wright's geometry of plan and elevation (some did not) and stuck with the formula.

Aaron Green for similar reasons.

Walter Burley Griffin for his nicely proportioned and detailed prairie houses.

Marion Mahony for her exquisite drawings. Who would not want to build these?
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 7605

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unless you remember House Beautiful during the reign of Elizabeth Gordon, you may not recall the work of Mark Mills. I would place him among the top. He was able to go beyond imitation to incorporate FLW's principles in totally original work. His Carmel house is one of the few A-frame houses of any significance, the form not being all that good for residential work. He also was the principal designer for Nate Owings' (of SOM) A-frame in Big Sur, a masterpiece.
Similarly, Bob Beharka, whose work is deceptively simple, exemplifies the very best of FLW.
Aaron Green and Karl Kamrath remained much closer to the Master, but still produced some exquisite work. John DeKoven Hill, who stayed at Taliesin (minus a few years at HB) may rank as the best of the lot.
A post-Wright apprentice, Wallace Cunningham has done wonderful work.
I was always drawn to Jack Howe's work until I saw some of it firsthand at the 2000 Conference in Minneapolis; on his own, he did not do much good work, in my opinion. Very disappointing.
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Education Professor



Joined: 05 Jul 2005
Posts: 585

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Among my favorite apprentices are:

John Howe
Fay Jones
Aaron Green
John Lautner
Alden Dow
Robert Green

Also noteworthy:

Marvin Bachman (supervised the Seamour and Gerte Shavin house in Chattanooga, TN)
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outside in



Joined: 29 Jul 2006
Posts: 1066

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about:

Lloyd Wright

Rudolph Schindler
&
William Drummond?
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PNB



Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Easy one for me as I prefer the Oak Park people

Walter Burley Griffin #1 - I love the Mess house in Winetka. George Elmslie is another favorite. Of the 1932 and after crowd John Howe although I will admit to not having been exposed to many of these. Although he was never an apprentice (maybe in spirit) I really like John Randall McDonald homes. There was a charming home of his in Sleepy Eye Minnesota I always admired when I lived near there.
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Mackintosh



Joined: 12 Jul 2005
Posts: 29
Location: Chicago, IL

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How can you call Walter Burley Griffin, Marion Mahoney, and William Drummond apprentices? They were paid draftsmen and women, even though Griffin should have been a partner. Who just mentioned George Elmslie? He never worked for Wright's studio. He worked for Sullivan besides working with Purcell. So if any of these individuals have anything in common (including Wright) is that they learned from other architects. We know they either worked for or were influenced by Louis Sullivan. Let's not forget Griffin worked for Dwight Perkins long before Wright. Where did Perkins start out? In the offices of Burnham & Root.
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jim



Joined: 17 Aug 2006
Posts: 237
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a very interesting subject which deserves a lot of thought. Who succeeded and why? why not?

Which of the apprentices can be called "Wrightian" if adherence to the style, or some principles is the criterion? Which of the apprentices became excellent architects taking the deeper principles but not necessarily the style from Wright?

I think first of John Howe, who seems to have been relatively original, but in a relativley Wrightian idiom. I think of John De Koven Hill. I think of Charles Warren Callister, who started out very much in the idiom but moved on (and was he ever an apprentice, or did he just learn from the Master's work?). I think of Aaron Green. I also think of the apprentice, who designed a magnificent house for the daughter of the Jacobs (Jacobs House I and II, FLlW) which was discussed in this venue in the summer of 2005, but who could not sustain a career; I think of the Langendorfs (wife: Lois, whom I met in the 1980s; husband whom I never met) who did some wonderful Usonian homes in the 1950s. But who could never sustain a career.

For anyone who loves architecture, and design, there are important questions that I do not think have been answered yet. How do we continue the work of a master? Can we? Who has done this? Who has not?

Can genius be passed on, taught? Or, what should a genius aspire to do with his/her acolites? I don't know any of the answers, but as a lover of beauty, and of Wright, I ponder these questions.
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Jim
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Paul Ringstrom



Joined: 17 Sep 2005
Posts: 3740
Location: Mason City, IA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Jim: Charles Warren Callister, and the Langendorfs are not on my list of apprentices (1932-1959) published in 2001.

Does anyone have a definitive list?

I would call Griffin, Mahony, etc. Wright associates as opposed to Wright apprentices. Although their Wrightian principles were absorbed similarly, with or without pay or tuition.
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Paul Ringstrom



Joined: 17 Sep 2005
Posts: 3740
Location: Mason City, IA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:49 pm    Post subject: Apprentice training Reply with quote

jim wrote:
This is a very interesting subject which deserves a lot of thought. Who succeeded and why? why not?

Which of the apprentices can be called "Wrightian" if adherence to the style, or some principles is the criterion? Which of the apprentices became excellent architects taking the deeper principles but not necessarily the style from Wright?

For anyone who loves architecture, and design, there are important questions that I do not think have been answered yet. How do we continue the work of a master? Can we? Who has done this? Who has not?

Can genius be passed on, taught? Or, what should a genius aspire to do with his/her acolites? I don't know any of the answers, but as a lover of beauty, and of Wright, I ponder these questions.


I would posit that these questions should have been examined by the founders of the FLW School of Architecture prior to establishing their Mission Statement and re-examined annually as a guide to their curriculum revisions.
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PNB



Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes I know the difference between the Oak Park staff and the apprentices I was simply playing off the statement from Peter Reidy's comments. That being said I prefer their work over anything I have seen from his apprentices. Oh and thanks for catching my Elmslie mistake - I forget that he worked with and not for FLLW. Still one of my favorites. This discussion leads me to a question that I will reserve for a new posted topic.
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JimM



Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 1341
Location: Burlington, WA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's hard not to seriously consider Lautner as the most successful in terms of having actually benefited from his contact with Wright by developing a highly personal style.
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