Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium at Arizona State University, Frank Lloyd Wright, Tempe, Arizona 1959

Posted by George Pudlo on April 15, 2013 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium
Frank Lloyd Wright
Tempe, Arizona

The Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's last, large-scale commissions. Wright designed the auditorium in 1959, and did not live to see it come to fruition. After Wright's death in 1959, construction was supervised by Frank Lloyd Wright's successor firm, Taliesin Associated Architects, with William Wesley Peters as the leader. Wes Peters, as he was known, worked closely with Frank Lloyd Wright for decades. Peters assisted with the construction of both Fallingwater and the Johnson Administration Building, among many other Wright projects. Peters became Frank Lloyd Wright's son-in-law when he married Wright's adopted daughter, Svetlana, who was the biological daughter of Wright's third and final wife, Olgivanna. Sadly, Svetlana and her son Daniel (Peters was the father) died in a car accident in 1946. Interestingly, Wes Peters then married another Svetlana, the only daughter of Joseph Stalin. 

Under Wes Peters' supervision, the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium opened in 1964 on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Wright's auditorium is circular in form, and comprised primarily of concrete. The stylized ornament surrounding the exterior of the Gammage Auditorium resembles curtains opening, appropriate for the function of the building. 


Frank Lloyd Wright's First Christian Church in Phoenix, Arizona 1950

Posted by George Pudlo on April 10, 2013 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

First Christian Church

Frank Lloyd Wright

Phoenix, Arizona


The design for this Frank Lloyd Wright church in Phoenix, Arizona was originally apart of a larger design for a university commissioned by the Southwest Christian Seminary in 1949. The original scheme as designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1950 was to include a chapel, administrative rooms, theater, faculty quarters, and a library. Wright's overall plan for the Southwest Christian Seminary was never carried out, and the First Christian Church, founded in Phoenix in 1952, was aware of the unbuilt project. The church sought permission from Olgivanna Wright, Wright's third and final wife and head of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation until her death in 1985, to use the drawings to construct a new church building for their growing congregation. 

Construction of Wright's design began in 1971, more than a decade after Wright's death, and opened in 1973. Geometry was a significant element of Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural design, and the triangle is seen throughout the First Christian Church in the floor plan, conceived as a double triangle, and in the columns and spire. Concrete and steel are the primary structural materials. Wright rarely conceived walls in the traditional sense, and the First Christian Church is no exception with its walls of glass connecting the interior and exterior of the building. Much of Frank Lloyd Wright's Arizona architecture features what he called "desert stone" - concrete inlaid with large fragments of stone found in the desert. Frank Lloyd Wright's desert stone can be seen surrounding the First Christian Church and within the bell tower, which rises 120 feet and was constructed in 1978 according to Wright's design. 

Marin County Civic Center: Frank Lloyd Wright, 1957-1969.

Posted by George Pudlo on January 27, 2013 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Marin County Civic Center

Frank Lloyd Wright was selected to be the architect of the Marin County Civic Center in 1957 after Marin County Supervisor Vera Schultz read a House Beautiful magazine dedicated entirely to Wright. It was a lengthy project, and one that Wright would not live to see completed. 

In July of 1957, Frank Lloyd Wright spoke at a public meeting at San Rafael High School. The following day Wright visited the future site of the Marin County Civic Center for the first time, and in typical Wright fashion, announced that he already had a plan for the building. Preliminary plans for the civic center were presented to and approved by the Board of Supervisors in the following year, and a model of the campus was displayed. 


Model of Marin County Civic Center

In 1959, Wright was selected to design the United States Post Office -the only federal building executed by Wright. Frank Lloyd Wright died the following month on April 9, but the board voted to continue on with Wright's plans, which were then handled by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, specifically Wesley Peters and Aaron Greene. Construction of the multi-million dollar civic center began in 1960, and the Administration Building was dedicated in 1962. Construction of the second phase of the civic center was approved in 1963, with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation commissioned for the Hall of Justice. The Marin County Civic Center was completed near the end of 1969. 

United States Post Office designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

The Marin County Civic Center is an example of Frank Lloyd Wright's organic architecture -it considers not only the client, but the site as well, the civic center is integrated with its hilly landscape. The Administration Building is 580 feet long, and intersects with 880 foot long Hall of Justice at a 120 degree angle. The Marin County Civic Center was not only Frank Lloyd Wright's last commission, but his largest completed project. 

Exterior view of the Marin County Civic Center

Rooftop of the Marin County Civic Center Hall of Justice

 Interior view of the Marin County Civic Center Hall of Justice

Live In A Frank Lloyd Wright Structure After You Die -The Blue Sky Mausoleum, Frank Lloyd Wright 1928, 2004

Posted by George Pudlo on January 4, 2012 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Photo Courtesy of Forest Lawn

Blue Sky Mausoleum

Forest Lawn Cemetery

Buffalo, NY 14214

Now you can be encrypted in a Frank Lloyd Wright structure for all of eternity. The Blue Sky Mausoleum in Buffalo, New York is the only executed memorial sculpture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Originally designed in 1928, the Blue Sky Mausoleum was not built until almost half a century after Wright's death. 

The original commission for the Buffalo mausoleum came from none other than Frank Lloyd Wright's good friend Darwin Martin. Darwin first became aware of Wright's radical modernism when he visited his brother William Martin in Oak Park. The house that Frank Lloyd Wright built for William Martin in 1902, led to commissions for the Darwin Martin House, the Larkin Administration Building, and the EZ Polish Factory for the Martin Brothers.  

Documents reveal that Frank Lloyd Wright and Darwin Martin made correspondence concerning the Blue Sky Mausoleum between 1925 and 1928. It is likely that the stock market crash and subsequent depression halted the construction of the mausoleum. Martin had planned the mausoleum to be a memorial where his family could be laid to rest. The Martins funded many of Wright's creative pursuits, and Wright reciprocated by producing remarkable designs for all of the clients' architectural needs. The Blue Sky Mausoleum was no exception. 

Wright never ceased to corrupt the orthodox methodology of any given form of architecture. When asked to imagine a mausoleum, one would commonly envision a temple-like box, the antithesis of burial. A mausoleum equates to a coffin within a room, opposed to a coffin in the ground. In the Blue Sky Mausoleum, Wright created a room of nature. There are no walls. There is no roof. The floor of this invisible room is the only tangible manifestation of the architect's vision. It exists as a granite staircase with a shallow incline, gently scaling as one with the hill. The top of the staircase meets the top of the hill and is mounted by a stone hedge, vaguely reminiscent of the Hollyhock House in geometric simplicity. A path is carved deep in the center of the monument, with one crypt on either side of the escalating path, resembling twelve stairs. The plateaued termination of both the hill and the monument overlook a small pond beyond the low hill.

In total, twenty-four crypts are contained in this outdoor mausoleum.  It was Wright's intention that the mausoleum exist as a room made by nature. The walls are created by the surrounding trees and the sky symbolically functions as the ceiling. The engraving on the stone hedge describes the essence entirely : "...A BURIAL FACING THE OPEN SKY....THE WHOLE COULD NOT FAIL OF NOBLE EFFECT....FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, ARCHITECT 1928" 

Darwin Martin died in 1935, and the plans for the mausoleum were permanently set aside. In 2004, Forest Lawn Cemetery, the cemetery for which Blue Sky was specifically designed for, took on the challenge of bringing Wright's vision to life. With the help of a Wright-trained architect, they were able to make it a reality and the mausoleum was built. A unique consequence of this discarded Wright structure brought to life is that it had no intended recipient when built, and offered a rare opportunity to be encrypted in a Frank Lloyd Wright structure for all eternity. Forest Lawn Cemetery has also created twenty-six limited edition Steuben Glass sculptures modeled after the mausoleum. These crystal objets d'art will be given to each of the twenty-four purchasers of the Blue Sky Mausoleum crypts, one is permanently displayed at Forest Lawn, and one has been made available for museums and exhibitions. 

Conrad and Evelyn Gordon House, Frank Lloyd Wright 1957-63

Posted by George Pudlo on January 3, 2012 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Special thanks to Efrain M. Diaz-Horna for the photographs and Molly Murphy, Director of the Gordon House

Conrad and Evelyn Gordon House, Frank Lloyd Wright 1957               

879 W Main Street

Silverton, Oregon 97381

Frank Lloyd Wright's Gordon House is the only Wright designed structure in the State of Oregon,  and subsequently the only now-public Wright site. The Gordon House has an interesting story to it:

Conrad and Evelyn Gordon first met with Wright in 1956 at Taliesin West, where they discussed plans to build the Gordon's a home in Oregon. It was to be one of the last Usonian Houses built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Mrs. Gordon, then in her forties, requested a place where a loom could be placed, as she was a weaver. She had always wanted a Frank Lloyd Wright House since the two were married. Mr. Gordon owned a dairy business and was nearing retirement. He was also a member of San Francisco's Bohemian Club, an exclusive club with an appreciation of the arts. The Gordon House was largely modeled after the "Dream House" Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Life Magazine in 1938, which was also recycled into the plan for the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Schwartz House. Mr. Gordon decided to wait until after his retirement in 1963 to have Wright's creation constructed posthumously, four years after Frank Lloyd Wright's death in 1959.

The Gordon House is T-shaped in its two story plan. The primary building material is concrete, though western red cedar wood is used in large quantities for the roof and second story detailing. The house was originally designed and built alongside a river in Wilsonville, Oregon, near Portland. It has three bedrooms. The master bedroom is on the ground floor, adjacent to the dining ares and the tall ceilinged Great Room. The other two bedrooms are on the upper story, both with independent, cantilevered balconies. The Gordon's lived in their Frank Lloyd Wright designed home until both of their deaths; Mr. Gordon in 1979 and Mrs. Gordon in 1997. 

After the death of his parents, the Gordon's son sold the house, and by 2001 new owners planned to demolish it.  The Frank LLoyd Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC) stepped in to prevent demolition. The new owners decided to donate the house. The Oregon Garden Foundation, a not for profit agency in Silverton, Oregon, was selected as the recipient of the Gordon House, which now operates the Gordon House as a museum. In collaboration with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, the newly established Gordon House Conservancy was able to move the house nearly 25 miles from its Wilsonville site to Silverton. The interior of the house, including furnishings and wood paneling, was meticulously dismantled before the removal of the roof, and the slicing of the upper story from the lower story for transport. The red concrete floor, many of the concrete wall blocks, and the bathroom tiles could not be saved, but were replicated in the new construction.

Amazingly, with assistance from the FLWBC, the Gordon House Conservancy was able to position the Gordon House in the exact solar orientation as the original location. As new concrete blocks were installed in the walls, the roof hovered in place above, and was subsequently lowered upon completion. The height of the walls are within one sixteenth of an inch of the original construction. A new concrete floor was installed above the foundation, and fitted with upgraded radiant heating pipes, as designed by Wright. This method of heating was common in Wright's Usonian Houses, as he found it to be a  perfectly logical solution to the cold, concrete floors of Usonian House since heat rises. The Gordon House now stands available to the public as a house museum; a nearly perfect reality of Wright's vision. Tours are available year round, and the Gordon House is also available to rent for various social functions. 

Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright 1943-1959

Posted by George Pudlo on November 15, 2011 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, in New York City, is perhaps the most visited Frank Lloyd Wright designed structure in the United States. The Guggenheim Museum, is also surprisingly the only Frank Lloyd Wright designed building in New York City. Though, this shouldn't come as a surprise if one considers the lack of natural sites in New York City. Wright never liked cities and had a few things to say about New York City in general, saying he didn't see an idea in the whole thing, and that it was developed as a race for rent, and is a monument to the power of money and greed. In an interview with Mike Wallace in 1957, at the age of 90, Frank Lloyd Wright suggested building two mile high skyscrapers in Central Park, destroying the rest of the city, and planting green -"wouldn't it end the agony?"

As with many of Frank Lloyd Wright's projects, the Guggenheim Museum concept took an unusually long time to plan and build. The contract was signed with Guggenheim in 1943, though without a site selected until 1944, this set the trend for a long adventure with the Guggenheim. One of the issues with the design of the Guggenheim Museum, pointed out to Wright well before construction began on the tapered, helix shaped concrete building was the curved walls. How could paintings be hung on walls that curve? This of course was no reason to fret for Wright, as he saw the building itself as the work of art. 

The Guggenheim Museum is Wright's greatest expression of the nature of concrete, with its fluid walls circulating and expanding as the building climbs upward. One walks into the museum to find that what is viewed on the outside is not a fancy facade, but rather a clear expression of how the interior space flows. Form follows function. A giant skylight brightens the interior with natural light, while the paintings are protected from the light by the progressive sets of floors above, shading the works of art. 

More than 700 drawings were created for the lengthy Guggenheim Museum project. In 1955, Frank Lloyd Wright occupied a suite in the Plaza Hotel, that they allowed him to renovate, and which he dubbed "Taliesin East". Neither Frank Lloyd Wright nor Solomon Guggenheim lived to see the opening of the museum in October of 1959. Not surprisingly, and to Wright's certain posthumous pleasure, recent data has suggested that more people visit the Guggenheim to see the building itself, and that the art contained within is secondary.

Monona Terrace, Frank Lloyd Wright 1938/1994

Posted by George Pudlo on November 9, 2011 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Monona Terrace, Frank Lloyd Wright 1938/1994

Monona Terrace Parking

Monona Terrace

One John Nolen Drive

Madison, WI 53703

Located off of Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin, the Monona Terrace was originally designed in 1938 by Frank Lloyd Wright but failed to pass approval. Frank Lloyd Wright's original plan for the Monona Terrace was to include a rail station, courthouse, city hall, and marina, and the plan failed by just one vote. Fast forward several decades to the early 1990's, and the voters of Madison approved a convention and community center on the same site that Wright originally designed the concept for. Site was always of utmost significance to Wright as every structure was meant specifically for its site and was to be built according to the land and surrounding environment. Construction of Frank Lloyd Wright's Monona Terrace began in 1994 and cost more than $64 million. The shell of the building, or the facade, is Frank Lloyd Wright's design. However, because the specific function of the building had been altered by the time it was built, the interior design was modified from Wright's design. Tony Puttnam, a former Taliesin architect of Wright's, was responsible for the modifications in plan.

The Monona Terrace elegantly graces Madison's lakefront with it's beautiful views and connection to nature. Like most of Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings, the Monona Terrace has a unique design, but maintains a strong sense of geometry and other underlying Wright themes. The parking structure built for the Monona Terrace is reminiscent of the Guggenheim Museum.

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Frank Lloyd Wright 1956-61

Posted by George Pudlo on April 20, 2011 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (1)


Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church


9400 W Congress Street


Wauwatosa, Wisconsin 53225




The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was designed in 1956 and completed posthumously in 1961, two years after Wright's death. Located just outside of the border of Milwaukee in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, the church has a striking appearance, not only for its design features, but because it rests in the center of a very large plot of land. When approaching the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, one is initially drawn to its unique form resembling a flying saucer. What is this thing? A church one finally realizes after focusing in on the small Greek cross on top of the domed structure. Frank Lloyd Wright had a knack for designing churches, unconventional in design, that didn't resemble traditional churches. The only other clear indication, from the exterior, that this is a church is the stained glass windows. These were not originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but were added later on. The slits enclosing these stained glass windows resemble eye lids. The dome at the top of the structure was originally faced in blue, ceramic tiles that were later replaced by a different material. The dome itself rests on a series of small, steel spheres that expand and contract with Wisconsin's ever changing weather to prevent cracking. The base underneath the dome is made entirely out of reinforced concrete. When one gets closer to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, it is seen that the entrance is flanked by two massive, horizontally natured fountains resembling the planters Wright designed for his Prairie Houses. Another, larger eye lid shaped opening is the entrance to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, topped with blue ceramic tiles.




Anyone who looks up is mesmerized by the claw-like overhang screen that fans down from the domed structure. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church with seating for over 1,000 people, thus being one of his largest church commissions. The total cost for the church mounted $1.5 million dollars.




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