Even if you’re not an architecture buff, you’ve likelyheard the name Frank Lloyd Wright, and maybe even know of his most famous projects-like Fallingwater, the Pennsylvaniahouse that effortlessly juts out over a waterfall, or the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
But there are other landmark projects thatWright isn’t as well-known for. And the Museum of Modern Art, in Manhattan, hopes to change that.
In honor of what would be Wright’s 150th birthday, the museum opens its exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive next week. Itcovers the architect’s more famous creations as well as some of his lesser-known projects.
While he designed many, many houses, he designed so many other buildings,saysJennifer Gray, who co-curated the exhibit. He designed skyscrapers, museums, furniture, textiles. Here are some highlights.
The mile-high skyscraper
Three years before his death, Wright called a press conference in Chicago to unveil his latest design: a mile-high skyscraper.
He had no client or commission for the tower, which would have been the tallestin the world. One problem: It wouldn’t have been technically possible to build the 528-story building stretching to the heavens at the time.
It was something of a publicity stunt, Gray contends. He designed the tower to put himself back on the map and solidify and control of his legacy. Certainly in the 1950s, it wouldn’t have been achievable.
The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, was completed in 2009-and it’sonly a half-mile tall.
Wright mighthave been a star architect able to command high commissions, but he was also obsessed with bringing his designs to the masses. Hence, his American System-Built Homes.
The system, developedbetween 1915 and 1917, was similar to mail-order-catalog homes. It used factory-produced housing parts and a network of licensed contractors to economically bring Wright’sdesigns to life. They were primarily shipped tothe Midwest.
It was a way to cut costs, Gray says.
In the 1950s, Wrightlaunched the ultimate DIYproject: the Usonian Automatic system. The system allowed folks tobuild their own simple, no-frills houses from the ground up, using concrete bricks.
Wright’s whole life has these ambitions to democratize architecture and make it more affordable, Gray says.
Wright didn’t just focus on the structure of his homes. He designed what went into them as well-including highly distinctive vases, display tables, seating, even rugs. This allowed him to conceive interiors that matched the exteriors of his structures.
Hecreated built-in window seats and oak armchairs in the early 1890s for his Chicago home, according to the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.He also designed a dining table and eight high chairs for the home.
Says Gray: Ideally in his mind, he would have designed every piece of furniture in a house.
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