"frank lloyd wright: architect of landscape", in frank lloyd wright

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  • FRANK LLOYD WRIARCHITECT OF LAND

  • CONTI;; T5 ~RAH( LLOYD WRIGIH QUARHRLY

    Iumme< 2000

    Introduction .......................... 3

    Frank Lloyd Wright: Architect of Landscape

    by Anne \Vhislol1 Spirn 4

    Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation News 26

    Books ................................................... 27

    Taliesin Architects 28

    Wright Sites/Evenrs Information 30

    COVER PHOTO: Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin, 1993. The Birdwalk-a long,

    narrow protruding balcony added to the living room porch in 1953-provides

    dramatic views of the Toties;" estate. Photo Paul Rocheleau. Photo, opposite

    page, Roger Straus Ill, from the soon-to-he-released book, \'(fright on \'Qright.

    P"""hed by The Frank Lloyd Wright F",ndatiotlT,aliesin \'('l~[. Xott~:Ile. AZ 85"261

    Editor: Suzette LucasAssislanl Editor: Dan Bitenc

    CopycdilOr: Alice UrbanDesigner: Roberl Miller

    Board of Trustees1I,Imilr0l1 .\IcRJ.c Ill. Chairman. ParaJi!le Valle}', AZ

    Dr.11. :'\ichom .\Iul1M' III. (H) and Pre.identEHi \laria C'-asey. 5.;ott~al('. AZ

    E. Thomas Case}", Scon~.iJle, A7David E. Dodge, xon.,Jale, AZ

    Ga~ K. Herbc~er. Paradise \all~-. AZJeanne Lind Herberger. PdT"dj..e \'all~-. AZ

    Da\"id O. Justi..:e. Oak Park. ILCh.ule'S \ lontooth. Spring GrCl.'n. \\1

    \lmen-a Houslon ~Ionroorh. xon'>d.tle. AZGeorge A. '-:el5Oo, \ ladi~n. \'('1Stephen ~cllliin. )con,Jalc, AZ

    Scon William 1\'Tcr

  • A K L L o

    Altbol/gh tlJe /tallle Taliesill is mostoften associated with Ibe personal resi-dence of I-rank Lloyd Wright. the Ie""also aPIJlies to the entire 600-acre/JYo/Jerty located in tlJe Jones Valley"car prmg Green, Wlisco1lsm. Otherbmld",gs located Oil the estate dreIIl"side Home School. MIdway J~arm.Tau-y-dcrI, and the Romeo and }lIltet\Vi"d",iII. In addtimu to the mam resi-dence (pIctured abol't! III a 1998 photo)the other bllildiugs, landsClIpcd grounds,roads, dm1l, tl1td I)oud are all pari 0/Wright's OlIL.."dlll1rdnlC'clumJ composf/ioll.Photo

  • D w I G T II

    8)/ Anne Whiston Spim

    rn rirings, dr~l\vings, andbuilr work all resrify roFrank Lloyd Wrighr'slifelong passion fornature and l:111dscapc. He wrOte

    dozens of essays on rhe subject, morc

    than any other architect, living or

    dead. lie was a keen observer of

    llatur:t1 form and :Ill experiencedarchitect of lal1dsc

  • II

    Wright's ancestors settled the JonesValley where he would later establishTaliesill. By the time this photo wastaken ;11 1902, Wright had designed theRomeo and Juliet \Vindmill, cenler, ontop of hill, and the second hui/din"foreground, for the Hillside HomeSchool, founded by his aunts.

    In 1948 Wright supervises apprenticesworkj"g the farmland at Taliesin Allphotos courtesy Frank Lloyd Wn}!,htArchives, except where noted.

    aries are fluid; a small garden is alandscape; so is a valley. The hillgarden at Taliesin, with its grassy

    mound, trees, walls, and steps, is alandscape; so is the complex ofhouse, terraces, courtyards, and gar-dens all built into and around rhe

    hill, as is the larger Jones Valley,with its buildings, roads, fields,

    groves, streams, ponds, and hills.Jones Valley, in (urn, is but a small

    parr of the even larger landscape of

    the Wisconsin River Valley, with irs

    rivers, forests, towns, and highways.Seen thus, landscapes and buildings

    are continuous, not contiguous. Alandscape resists perception as an

    object or even "'an expanse ofscenery seen by the eye in one view,"a typical dictionary definition.Landscapes are dynamic and evolv-

    ing, nOt static, their surface the sumof processes-water flow, plantgrowth, human dwelling. Landscapeis the material contexr within whichwe live: the habitats we humansshare with other organisms, theplaces we shape to express our ideas

    and values.In modern usc, the words "land-

    scape" and "nature" are oftenemployed interchangeably. Butnature is an idea, nOt a place; anidea, moreover, for which many cul-

    tures have no single name or notion.Many critics have interpreted\X'right's statements about nature inlight of the word's modern use, andthis has led them to mistake his rever-ence for nature as deference to land-

    scape. \Vright consistently capitalized... ature," bur never "'Iandscape."

    \X'right's understanding of naturewas grounded in his family's

    Emersonian philosophYj he wassteeped from early childhood incountless quotations, discussions,and sermons drawn from Emerson'swritings. \Xlright's knowledge oflandscape came from experiencejobserving and shaping landscapeswere part of everyday life from the

    time he plowed, planted, hoed, andharvested fields as a boy, to when asa man he terraced hillsides, plantedgardens and groves, dammed streamsto generate power and make lakesand waterfalls, laid out contours for

  • plowing that traced curving land~forms, and selected sites for Sundaypicnics. Such philosophy and experi-ences were a central part of the lifehe designed for and shared with

    Taliesin's apprentices from 1932until his death in 1959.

    \Xlhat \'(fright said and wroteabout nature and landscape andwhat he actually did were complex

    and sometimes seem contradictory.Without a clear-eyed comparison tothe built, his texts have served mostlyto confuse. \'(fere one dealing withanother architect, one might attribute

    his apparent inconsistencies to asuperficial appreciation of natureand landscape. This was certainlynOt the case with Wright. Given hisbackground, one must see \'(fright's

    Hillside Home School with the HillsideStudio additioN appears i" the left fore-grouNd iN this 1955 aerial photo of theTalies;N estate. The \ViscoNsin Rivercan be seen in the distance, acrossCounty Highway C.

    1.1

  • II

  • landscapes as deliberate constructions.Apparent contradictions betweentexts and works are clues to \'Vright'spriorities and inrenrions, to the evo-lution of his ideas, or to ways that ourown assumptions and pcrceptions maydiffer from his. \'Vright wrore many

    texts over half a century (1894-1959)for differelll purposes (self-expre>-sian, self-promotion, self-justification,reaching). \Vhile numerous rhemesremained conStant throughout hiscareer, certain importanr ideas and

    their applictltion to landscape designdeveloped over ti me.

    The key to understanding \X!right'sapproach to landscape design (includ-ing his grand, unrealized projects ofrhe 1920sl lies in rhe landscapeswhere he made his home and exerredcontinuou!i. inOuence for decades: the

    Jones Valley of southern \'Visconsinand the deserr of centrnl Arizona. Hewas born to the firsr and chose thesecond; the twO must be seen togeth-er, as he experienced them, the onein contraSt to and clarifying rheorher. Hundreds of phorographsspanning nearly sixty years docu~

    ment his engagement with theselandscape. Dozen of quick ketch-es and plans covered with scribblednotes tire windows into his thinkingabout these places across the years.These im3ges enable us to assesswhat he actually did, year by year, tofollow rhe dialogue between builr

    landscapes and texts, to idemify theprinciples that guided the work.

    views today, onc is struck by thecOntrast between rough and smooth,

    by how profiles of landforms havebeen rounded nnd ordered. Thelandscape nppcars sculpted, andindeed it is. A grove of trees roundsoff the angular top of Midway Ilill;rows of curving crops accemuate thelandform. Gone are a hosr of build-

    ings and fences that once stood downin thc valley along the main road;only buildings designed by Wrighthimself remain in view along thewestern slopes. Just as eightecmh-century English Inndowners embell-ished their esrates-planting groves,

    damming streams to form lakes,moving whole villages, building land-

    marks to guide the gazc-\'Vright

    (Opposite page) Water (eatures are anmtegral part o( the landsCdpe at Taliesl1lincluding this small/Jond outside o( thegarden room o( the house. Photo ID jimWildemoll. (Abo,'e) The soarillg Birdwalk.added to Taliesi/l il1 J95.3, prot/ides adramatic view o( the valley and, look-ing back. a rare perspective on thehouse itself Photo lD Paul Rocheleau.(Bottom) In 1948 \Vright a"d his Ivi(e.Olgiva",lO, stroll flear the Romeo andJuliet W",dmill 011 the Taliesin estate.

    transformed Jones Valley into a cele-bration of the landscape of south-western \X!isconsin and the culturalheritage of his mother and her family.Wri ht would certainly have agreed

    with landscape architect HumphreyRepton (1752-1818) who assertedthat "to improve the scenery of a

    II

    "Truth ill Beauty":Ultifyillg Jones Valley

    Any account of Frnnk Lloyd

    \'Vright and landscape must beginwirh the place where Wright'S auto-biography begins and ends-rhe JonesVal1ey, near Spring Green, \'Vi consin.One cannOt overemphasize the signifi-cance of this place for \'Vrighr. It wa his

    home, school, laboratory, touchstone.oll1p:ning views of the valley a

    century or morc ago with the same

  • 10-A-country, and ro display its native

    beauties with advantage" is an art;Repton's three principles-utility,proportion, and unity-were among\X1right's own.

    The Lloyd Jones family arrived in

    the valley in 1856. They found a

    long valley enclosed by parallel,

    lobed ridges of f1atbedded limestone

    and sandstone that formed smaller

    valleys within the larger whole. A

    stream flowed through the valley and

    out into the broad floodplain of the

    Wisconsin River. The Lloyd Jones

    family planted crops and built a

    homestead near where the Hillside

    Home School buildings now stand.

    From the home farm at