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Frank Lloyd Wright Being Re-Considered


by Jerome Weeks 22 May 2009

The occasion of the Guggenheim Museum’s 50th anniversary — and its very first exhibition on Wright — has prompted a spate of evaluations and retrospectives. We did something of the same because Wright’s Kalita Humphreys Theater is also wrapping up its 50th year with the Dallas Theater Center.

CTA TBD

533-wright2If New York City didn’t have a major Frank Lloyd Wright building, one wonders whether the architect would still be getting the attention he is — because, as we know, if it doesn’t happen in New York, large parts of the media would never hear about it.

But the occasion of the Guggenheim Museum’s 50th anniversary — and its very first exhibition on Wright — has prompted a spate of evaluations and retrospectives. We did a more narrowly focused look back because Wright’s Kalita Humphreys Theater is also wrapping up its 50th year with the Dallas Theater Center.

But here you can find critic Paul Goldberger in The New Yorker and James S. Russell for Bloomberg, with rather different takes on the famous building and the infamous man. Suzanne Stephens writes it up for Architectural Record, while Arthur Lubow does the honors for the Smithsonian.

The New York Times has run an article on one of Wright’s strangest would-be creations, the Gordon Strong Automobile Objective (above) — basically, an elaborate scenic lookout to be built on top of Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland. Because of the spiraling car-ramp, it looks like an upside-down Guggenheim — more than 25 years before Guggenheim ever existed. Interestingly, there’s even a 1994 film documentary about the building of the Guggenheim. The planning and construction took 16 years and were finished only after Wright had died at 92. The film is called 1071 Fifth Avenue: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Story of the Guggenheim Museum.

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  • I think that picture looks like some kinda fortress. In fact, I had to expand the picture to see that it really was a spiraling car ramp.

    Now that I look at it again, it looks like it could be a Chinese palace stronghold. Like the Emperor’s personal palace by the sea or something.

  • I like the look of it.
    One project that might be interesting is to have a gallery show of all the great buildings that never were built.