What can we add to the overwhelming love being shared for Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday? There’s no need to pile onto the think pieces of Fallingwater’s significance or the public’s first impressions of The Guggenheim. At Nook, we value our role as specialists, poised to find the gems of houses perfect for every one of our clients. We’ll take the same route today for the anniversary of arguable our most prolific architect of the twentieth century.
So here it is. A list of facts about Frank Lloyd Wright that not only doesn’t mention Fallingwater (that’s the last time, I promise), but will deliver at least one new piece of trivia for you to wow clients at dinner tonight.
- Wright’s “gas station of the future” is still in business today. One year before his death at the age of 91, Wright finally got to see a small part of his utopian Broadacre City fulfilled. He’d been a little more than obsessed with the idea of beauty “incorporated into something as commonplace as a service station”. It’s certainly striking, especially the interiors and sixty foot high tower.
- In an effort to break out of his prairie house reputation, Wright chose the concrete block as foundation for the design of his Mayan houses. He reportedly called it “the ugliest block in the world” and made it his goal to see what beauty may lie within such a pedestrian stone. Did he succeed? His Mayans are some of his more famous, although whether it’s the architecture or the personalities (Samuel-Novarro, Alina Barnsdall, for example) that occupied them is hard to tell.
- Simon and Garfunkel’s song “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” is about both the architect and the duo’s impending breakup. Accounts vary as to whether Garfunkel knew that at the time of recording. He had studied to be an architect as a backup to music, thus Simon could slide some double meanings into the lyric. It’s also interesting to note the line “All the nights we’d harmonize til dawn” because they actually don’t harmonize in this recording.
- Ayn Rand called him a “living miracle.” You probably know that Wright was the inspiration for Howard Roark in The Fountainhead. Rand saw Wright as a man who had lived the story of human integrity, and made numerous attempts at an interview while writing her book. Their meeting didn’t take place until The Fountainhead was published, and Rand (who kept meticulously detailed diaries) felt some disappointment at his posturing. Wright, for his part, was not a fan of the movie, specifically the architecture they portrayed. Some claim that Wright was asked to design the movie, but producers wouldn’t meet his price.
- His personal life (i.e. 4 wives) was portrayed in not one, but two novels. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan focuses on the torrid love affair between Wright and his eventual second wife Mamah Borthwick Cheney, which began over her home’s commission and ended in fire. The Women by T.C. Boyle moves through all four of his wives, told through the eyes of a Japanese apprentice., Tadashi Sato. Wright’s personal life holds so much intrigue and drama, that even the Buffalo News asks “When did Wright ever have time to revolutionize architecture?”
- The Royal family that commissioned his Baghdad Opera House were murdered before it could be built. Wright was one of a group of designers secured to reimagine important buildings in 1957 Baghdad. He considered it a great honor to contribute to the city where civilization began, and renamed the site for his opera house the Isle of Edena. Wright’s personal mission on the project was to reconnect the quickly Westernizing city with its cultural storytelling roots, integrating important characters from Arabian tales into the structure and murals. He designed much more than the original commission, adding a civic center and public gardens, among other features that were never built. The King was murdered in a coup in July of 1958, and Wright’s plans were deemed much too extravagant for the new leaders.
How are you celebrating? The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has a special email sign up to commemorate the anniversary all year. Here’s a New York Times round up of tours, exhibitions and tattoos in honor of Wright. Enjoy live music, a silent auction and food trucks at the Hollyhock House at Barnsdall Park.
Follow the hashtag #FLW150 and share your experiences! And if you’re looking for a Frank Lloyd Wright original masterpiece, or a home inspired by Lloyd Wright, CLICK HERE