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

George Sturges House: Frank Lloyd Wright, 1939.

Posted by George Pudlo on January 26, 2013 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)


The George Sturges House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939 -more than a decade after his concrete textile block houses of the 1920's. The George Sturges House is indicative of America's then fascination with speed and various modes of transportation. It looks to be in motion, and has been compared to a fast moving ship. It is dramatically situated on its site, with a massive, cantilevered balcony soaring over the hillside.



Frank Lloyd Wright designed the George Sturges House shortly after he designed what is perhaps his most well known house, Fallingwater, in 1937. Though Fallingwater certainly has a more dramatic landscape, the cantilevering concept is one that Wright mastered in many of his projects, the Sturges House included. The wooden balcony extends from a firmly rooted base of brick, with brick also seen rising in masses, accenting the top of the house. The horizontal wooden siding, sometimes board and batten, expresses a horizontal nature reminiscent of Wright's Prairie period of the early 20th Century. A wooden trellis hanging over the balcony accentuates the horizontality. The interior of the Sturges House is characterized with redwood walls and exposed redwood beams in the ceiling that give it somewhat of a Crafstman feel. After Sturges moved into the house, it was plagued with leaks from the wooden roof and he later installed rain funnels.


Frank Lloyd Wright hired John Lautner to supervise the construction of the George Sturges House. Lautner was just beginning to establish a name for himself in Los Angeles as a serious architect, and he built his own home there the same year. Lautner was an apprentice of Wright's and studied under him at the Taliesin Fellowship, Frank Lloyd Wright's school of architecture at Taliesin in Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Arizona, from 1933 through the end of the decade. Lautner and Wright continued a professional relationship into the 1940's, with Lautner assisting Wright with a remodel of the Ennis House, and Wright's residential project for Arch Oboler in 1941. Frank Lloyd Wright and John Lautner's association ended by the mid 1940's when Lautner had fully established himself, though he continued to have much praise and admiration for Wright and carried on Wright's concept of organic architecture in his own work.



La Miniatura: Frank Lloyd Wright, 1923.

Posted by George Pudlo on January 26, 2013 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)


La Miniatura was the first house to be built using Wright's method of concrete textile block construction. Built in 1923, the house lies in a low ravine in the City of Pasadena. Alice Millard knew Wright from many years before when the architect built a house for Alice and her husband George in 1906 in Highland Park, Illinois.


The Millard's were collectors and dealers of rare books. They moved to Pasadena in 1908, and after her husband's death, Alice continued the book business. She commissioned Wright design her house and book studio. The house was constructed using stylized concrete blocks that were hollow. The concrete blocks were lined up and stacked upon one another. Outer and inner walls were created with an air space in between. Wright's later concrete textile block houses used steel to reinforce the concrete blocks, furthering the idea of the architecture as textile.The primary design on the concrete blocks is an indented cross. Some of the blocks are highly stylized, some are plain, and some have glass inside that allow light into the building during the day, while whimsical light patterns exude from the house at night.


This new method of construction was used in many of Wright's later Los Angeles houses, and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. La Miniatura is very much connected to its site and blends in with the surrounding nature. The concrete blocks were created using sand from the site to blend the color scheme with that of the environment.


Wright originally designed the house with a book studio, but it was not built until 1926 and was largely carried out by Wright's son Lloyd Wright.

Charles Ennis House: Frank Lloyd Wright, 1923-1924.

Posted by George Pudlo on January 26, 2013 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)


Wright called the Ennis House "the little palace". This was the last and largest of Wright's concrete houses at roughly 6,200 square feet, and built for Charles and Mabel Ennis. The Ennis House is comprised of approximately 27,000 "concrete textile blocks" made of the earth upon which it sits, with 24 design variations unique to the property. In An Autobiography, Wright says of the Ennis House: "I had drawn my son Lloyd into this effort and after completing the plans and details for this latter house I entrusted it all to Lloyd to build -and I, too soon, went back to Taliesin."



The Ennis' owned their Frank Lloyd Wright designed house until 1936, when Mrs. Ennis sold it, and the house had changed hands several times since. In 1968, Augustus Brown purchased the Ennis House for $119,000, and owned it until 1980 when he donated it to a trust he formed to preserve the house. This became the Ennis House Foundation, of which Eric Lloyd Wright, grandson of Frank and son of Lloyd, is a member.




The Ennis House faced considerable damage after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, and torrential downpours in 2005. After the 2005 rain damage, the Ennis House Foundation poured more than $6.5 million into the house to stabilize it and prepare it for restoration.



In July of 2011, business executive Ron Burkle purchased the house for $4.5 million, and a conservancy easement held by the Los Angeles Conservancy which stipulates that the house be open to the public a few days a year.



The Ennis House is very much connected to its site in the hills of Los Feliz. It rises like a series of blocks, and reflects Wright's tendency toward a Pre-Columbian/Indigenous Mexican influence in his architecture of Southern California. Wright believed that indigenous architecture was organic architecture.

Samuel Freeman House, Frank Lloyd Wright 1924

Posted by George Pudlo on December 28, 2011 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)



Samuel Freeman House

1962 Glencoe Way

Los Angeles, CA 90028

The Samuel Freeman House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles, California, during his brief tenure in LA in the early 1920's. After Wright's multi year Imperial Hotel project was completed, Wright had developed a new method of construction involving the use of concrete blocks, and found himself needed in California. By now, his Prairie days were over, and we begin to see Wright's architecture evolve. Most of the other noted architects involved with the Prairie School saw a decline in their work after the second decade of the Twentieth Century, but Frank Lloyd Wright's work naturally evolved into something entirely different from his work in Oak Park. The organic principles of building were the same, but the realization of these principles was applied in a different environment, with different physical characteristics. 

Wright created geometrically stylized concrete blocks, similar in design to those used in the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, and the Midway Gardens in Chicago. Wright aligned the hollow, concrete blocks and stacked them atop of one another, then put steel rods through them in a manner similar to creating a textile. These Los Angeles structures were thus dubbed the concrete textile block homes. 

The Samuel Freeman House is located in the Hollywood Hills, and is not easily seen from the street. The front of this concrete block house overlooks the lower portion of a hill and houses beneath it, with no path in between. The viewable portion from the street offers views of the rear of the house. 

John Storer House, Frank Lloyd Wright 1923

Posted by George Pudlo on November 15, 2011 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

John Storer House

8161 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood

Los Angeles, CA 90069

The John Storer House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1923, is located on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. The house is one of several concrete textile block homes that Wright designed in the Los Angeles area in the early 1920's. This method of construction, which would later be used in the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, involves geometrically designed concrete blocks, often hollow, lined up and stacked on top of one another with steel rods woven in between, hence the use of the word textile. Dr. John Storer lived in the house until only 1927, but a copper plate at the entrance still reads "Storer". 

As with all of Wright's designs, the building is according to the site. Located in the Hollywoods hills, the house is built into the hill, not on top of it. As Wright originally concepted in Taliesin: "you should never built on top of the hill, if you built on top of the hill, you lose the hill. If you build one on the side of the top, you have the hill and the eminence that you desire."

Fountainhead author Ayn Rand was very close to purchasing the house in 1944.

Anderton Court Shops, Frank Lloyd Wright 1952

Posted by George Pudlo on November 15, 2011 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Located on famed Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, the Anderton Court Sops is the only commercial building Wright designed in Los Angeles. The shopping center blends in with its surrounding buildings in terms of color and clean feel; most of the structures on Rodeo Drive are large, glistening white buildings. There is a certain uniqueness is form and geometry that distinguishes  Frank Lloyd Wright's  Anderton Court Shops from the rest of the high end Rodeo Drive shops. The strongly geometrical spire is the center piece of this Wright creation. The form, color, and materials are similar in composition to the Guggenheim Museum. 

Hollyhock House, Frank Lloyd Wright 1919-1921

Posted by George Pudlo on November 10, 2011 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

The Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, Califiornia, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built between 1919-1921. In a way similar to the Avery Coonley House in Riverside, Illinois, the Hollyhock House is a complex series of buildings that originally included a theater, townhouses, director’s and artist’s residences, a kindergarten, shops, and a cinema.

The Hollyhock House and its associated buildings were commissioned by Aline Barnsdall, a wealthy heiress with money to spend, just how Wright (or any other architect) preferred. The house is made of clay tile and stucco, and is faced with concrete ornament. The Hollyhock House is located on the top of Olive Hill in what is now known as Barnsdall Park, a public art park owned by the city of Los Angeles. Mrs. Barnsdall donated the Hollyhock House and the other buildings to Los Angeles in 1927. The Hollyhock House is now open as a museum, and the park open to the public for a viewing of some of Wright’s best California work.


Wright Newsletter


Share on Facebook