Kim Bixler & Sean Malone at Modernism Week

Kim Bixler and Sean Malone will both be at Modernism Week in Palm Springs (February 13-23). Kim Bixler, author of Growing Up in a Frank Lloyd Wright House will give her multimedia presentation "The Perks and Pitfalls of Living in a Frank Lloyd Wright House" on Saturday, February 15 at 3:30PM; tickets are $15 and can be purchased here. Sean Malone, president and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, will give a talk on February 18 at 9:30AM, "Frank Lloyd Wright, Integrity, and Transformation", on how the essential characteristics of Wright's work are affecting his legacy. Tickets are $12 and can be bought here.

Kim Bixler will also be in Mason City, Iowa on February 20 and speaking as part of Wright on the Park's Speaker Series at the Mason City Architectural Interpretive Center (space is limited, RSVP to While in Iowa, she will also be giving classroom presentations.

Bixler's family owned the Boynton house in Rochester, New York from 1977 to 1994, and her book and presentations are about the history of the house, the efforts of the owners, her partents and others, to preserve the house and her own experices of growing up inside a Wright-designed space.

BW Family L high res.jpeg

Wright and the Tower

The model of Broadacre City in MoMA's current Wright exhibit, Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Denisty vs. Dispersal, insppired "Forget The Prairie Houses: Frank Lloyd Wright Was A Prophet Of Non-Urban Skyscrapers" a short article on Architzer on Wright's history with tall building, and how his ideas have carried on into the Twenty-first Century.

The exhibit is now open and runs through June 1st. It's one of the first, public fruits of the partnership between the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the Museum of Modern Art.

It Was a Very Good Year

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation's fund raising efforts in 2013 were very successful, its best in a decade.

The total raised in 2013 was over $1 million -- more than double the amount raised in 2011 and significantly more the the $542,000 brought in 2012.

The spike in giving supports a dramatic increase in restoration and preservation activities, a significant increase in the foundation’s investment in the vibrant and forward-thinking Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, and a doubling of investment in K-12 education programs. The organization is committed to maximizing the impact of donated funds; 95% of the organization’s budget goes directly to funding the programs and preservation it exists to accomplish – with only 5% going toward overhead, administrative, and fundraising costs combined.

More than 5,000 donors contributed, including one gift of $150,000 and one gift of $0.20 from 7-year-old boy.

. . . And They Have a Plan

By AndrewHorne (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By AndrewHorne (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has hired Harboe Architects to prepare a plan for the preservation and renovation of Taliesin West.

Harboe Architects, based in Chicago, has a portfolio full of restoration projects on historically significant buildings, including the Robie House and Unity Temple and Louis Sullivan's (at the time) Carson, Pirie, Scott store on State St.

Exhibit: The Wonders of the World's Fair


Now at the Field Musuem, through September: "Opening the Vaults: The Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair".

Luring millions to Chicago in 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition was a glittering showcase of architecture, culture, technology, and peoples from around the world. Not only the birthplace of the Juicy Fruit chewing gum and the Ferris Wheel, the World’s Fair also marked the triumphant debut of our very own Field Museum. Now, 120 years later, the Museum is opening its hidden collections to display incredible artifacts and specimens that will bring to life one of the most spectacular events in the Windy City’s history in Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World’s Fair. Get a look at objects that have rarely—or never—been on display since they amazed fairgoers over a hundred years ago, including a meteorite so feared it was kept chained in a dungeon. Explore how the fair brought visitors closer than ever to unique wonders like exotic animals, international cultures, and strange new products from all over the world. And see how Field Museum scientists continue to conduct ground-breaking research on the ever-growing collection using new technology.

The New York Times has a review of the exhibit (and raps the Field a bit for the scolding tone of some of the exhibit commentary):

First, give the exhibition credit for its range and ambition. We see relics of the fair’s material life — tickets, program books, an accounting ledger — along with a sampling of its dizzying variety: a stuffed bird of paradise used as a hat ornament, an enormous femur from a Brachiosaurus. There are two Peruvian mummy bundles, a Zulu warrior’s club, and a kenong from a Javanese gamelan musical ensemble.

Period-style soundtracks accompany wall-size projections of vintage postcards deftly brought to animated life. And, taking a cue from the fair, museum souvenirs include Cracker Jack, which we are told was created for the fair, and images of the giant turning wheel invented by George Ferris to trump Paris’s 1889 world’s fair icon, the Eiffel Tower. The Ferris wheel didn’t become a Chicago landmark, but is any skyline now complete without one?

While it's easy to overstate the 1893 World's Fair influcance on Wright's later work, it's also easy to understate its early effects: Wright worked on the Transportation Building under the direction of Louis Sullivan, a vast, daringly different vision of what American architecture could be. At the time, the 1893 World's Fair was one of the biggest events in American history (nearly one quarter of the nation's popultation visited the fair) and Wright's work on the Transporation would have been seen by nearly all of those visitors.

Transportation Building -- Adler & Sullivan

Transportation Building -- Adler & Sullivan

Exhibit: Wright Before the Lloyd


The Chicago Cultural Center is hosting a free exhibit "Wright Before the Lloyd" until mid-March.

The exhibit takes its name from the early drawing by Wright that were signed simply as "Frank L. Wright".

The exhibit was curated by Tim Samuelson, Chicago's Cultrual Historian. It looks at the very early work of Wright, before he developed his distinctive looks. Begininng with his early lessons he learned from his early work for J. Lyman Silsbee and the firm of Adler & Sullivan, including the Charnley House and the Transportation Building for the World's Fair that were designed in close collaboration with Louis Sullivan himself.

The exhibit also looks at Wright's early independant houses, includeing the "bootleg" commissions and very first projects after he was fired by Sullivan.

The exhibit is free, and open the same hours at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Bachman Wilson House Moving to Arkansas

The Bachman Wilson house, a Usonian in Millstone, New Jersey repeatedly endangered by flooding, has been purchased by the Crystal Brides Museum of American Art and will be moved to the museum's home in Bentonville Arkansas.

The house has been for sale since 2012, with a requirement that it be moved from its location on a floodpain. The most recent owners, Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino, restored the house to its original condition and repaired it repeatedly after floods. In 2008 the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy recognized the couple with a Wright Spirit Award.

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened in November, 2011, founded by Alice Walton.

(The current director of the museums is Don Bacigalupi, formerly of the Toledo Museum of Art -- the greatest art museum in America)

Sullivan Bank in Newark, Ohio Donated

Louis Sullivan's Old Home Bank building in Newark, Ohio (just east of Columbus) has been donated to the Licking County Foundation. The donation was made with the understanding that the restoration would continue; the Foundation sees the restored bank building as a key part of a revitalized downtown Newark.

The previous owner, Stephan Jones, was a Newark native who works in commercial real estate in New York. He purchased the building, vacant at the time, in 2007 and began a restoration. Though the work progressed slowly, Tim Samuelson, cultural historian for the City of Chicago was impressed by what had been acomplished when he visited in 2008.

Studio Balcony Added to the Home & Studio Tour

(Photo courtesy of The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust)

(Photo courtesy of The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust)

In March, the The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust (fomrmerly the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust) will open the balcony above the studio attached to Wright's Oak Park home to tours. This will be the first time in 40 years that visitors have been invited up into the balcony.

The tours begin March 21, and will be offered twice a day at 10AM and 4PM. The cost will be $10 for members and $25 for nonmembers.

This is bigger news that it might seem. Wright's studio, predating the first prairie houses (it was added to his home in 1898), is one the greatest, most innovative spaces Wright designed in the early years of his career. The studio compares favorably with the play room Wright added to h is house in 1895.

But, the studio has been difficult to fully appreciate from the main floor, the only part of the room available on the tour. Not only will access to the balcony allow appreciation of the space and the views through the second story windows, but it will allow examination of Wright's ingenious ball and chain support system.

Tour information for the Home & Studio is available here

One of my favorite sources for the Home & Studio is Planet Architecture's Home & Studio DVD