Touring Wingspread

SC Johnson and the Johnson Foundation have added Herbert F. Johnson's home, Wingspread to its tour options. They have also expanded the tour season through December (handy if, say, you joined a political campaign and have hardly seen your wife and child since mid-August, and likely won't see them again until the first Wednesday in November).

Wright designed Wingspread for Herbert Johnson in the late 1930s, at the same time he designed SC Johnson's corporate headquarters in nearby Racine. The house is grand (14,000 square feet) with a careful mix of elegant public areas and intimate family space. Wright was extordinarily prod of the house and its high level of workmanship -- he even refered to it as the last Prairie House.

Until this announcement, tours of Wingspread were sharply limited. As the home of the Johnson Foundation, it's used as a confrence and educational center it was not open on a regular schedule.

Wingspread joins the SC Johnson Research Tower as the newest additions to the tour options of SC Johnson's campus. The tours are free. Here is the link for more information and to book your tour.

For more information about Wingspread, AD Classics has a nice entry on the house, and the Johnson Foundation has a small collection of images of original renderings, plans and photo of Wright and the modle of house.

Wright's Baghdad Opera House

via PrairieMod:

Here is a YouTube video of Wright's design for an opera house for Baghdad, Iraq.

The opera house featured in the video was only part of Wright's proposal for the city. He also produced drawings for a number of other buildings, including a university.  Wright was one of a number of architects asked to modernize parts of the Iraqi capital city. His plan for the city was, unsurprisingly, grandiose, and ultimately fell victim to political upheaval and changing priories.

Here is an excerpt from a radio interview Wright did in 1957 discussing ideas for Baghdad and New York City:

For obvious reasons, interest in Wright's plans for Baghdad spiked about 10 years ago. _The Wall Street Journal_, CNN, and _The Washington Post_ all had stories about the plan.

If you are interested, the Wikipedia article has more information, and you can see some of Wright's drawings for the project with a Google image search.

Theodore Pappas House For Sale

The Theodore Pappas House in St. Louis is for sale. The house, a Usonian Automatic originally designed in the mid-1950s for an employee of the St. Louis Browns. The house was completed in 1964.

The house is being sold off-market, so there's no website. You can see the floor plan and B&W photos of the house taken in the 1970s in the property's application for inclusion in the National Resistration of Historic Places and there are a few more current photos availiable through a Google Image search

If you are interested in purchasing the house, you can contact modernstlinfo@gmail.com.

[Not Even Close to On-topic] This Makes Me Happy

Gov. Scott Walker is tied with his challenger in the most recent poll.

For God's sake, in Wisconsin you can register on election day. Trust me, it's harder to fall out of bed than it is to organize a state with same-day registration (remember, I do this stuff quasi-professionally).

If you guys haven't put Scottie Walker away by early October, I'll come to Wisconsin myself and teach you how to knock on doors.

Art at the Gordon House

The Oregonian has an article about an upcoming exhibition of art at the Gordon House, a Usonian designed by Wright in 1957 but not built until the early 1960s. The house was moved in 2002 and then opened to the public.

The piece includes a short but nicely-done photo gallery of the house and, easy to miss mid-way down on the left side, is a color drawing of the house done by Mr. Wright himself -- worth following the link by itself.

The Oregonian seems to like the Gordon House -- here's articles on the Gordon House and music, and the house's kitchen.

The Courtyard of an "Honest Building"

ScoutingNY is a blog by a New York City-based location scout. This past winter, he discovered and photographed the hidden-from-passers-by courtyard of the Plaza Hotel.

Wright, who once called the Plaza Hotel an "honest building" lived in the Plaza for a few years in the 1950 as the Guggenheim Museum was going up. His suite there was dubbed "Taliesin East".

Oh, for God's Sake ...

It's a damn shame that Wierd Al alreday shot the video for his parody of the "Happy" song, because the William Thaxton house would be a great setting for "Tacky".

And, it's for sale. Asking price: $3.2 million.

Only the delusional still consider it a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Wright's 1954 Usonian was about 1,800 square feet; the house today is a freakishly obese 9,100 sq. feet, though that includes the "children's wing".

The original house came close to demolition in the early 1990s, when the current owners bought it, undid years of garish alterations -- including pineapple finials on the roof and ionic (and possibly ironic) columns -- and built a U-shaped addition around the original and made various, sweeping interior changes.

As I wrote in 2011: "Your Bond villain called. He wants his lair back".

Off Topic, But not by That Much

Two items for a quiet Sunday morning:

Urban Giants

Here is an 8 minute documentary on two telecommunications building built in New York City just before the Depression -- buildings still being used for thier original purpose more than 80 yeas later.

Urban Giants from Telx on Vimeo.

(via Kottke)

Becker on the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Seven years ago, Lynn Becker was a fierce opponent of the plan to move the Chicago Children's Musuem to a new building built in Grant Park. He was part of a loud chorus of opposition that beat back a powerful mayor and well-funded public relations campaign. His article written for the Chicago Reader presented a wide-ranging, well-researched argument against the relocation.

But he's defending the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art's proposed location on the lakefront. He lays out solid reasons for tentatively supporting the location and a list of serious questions that should be anwswered before the project progresses. He also links to the high-profile critics of the plan, offering a help introduction to the controversy.

Looking for Wright's Rides

The 2015 Arizonza Concours d'Elegance, held this year at the Wright-influanced Billmore Hotel, will feature a category for cars owned by Frank Lloyd Wright. The organizers are looking for the 54 cars that Wright was known to have owned throughtout his life. 10 have been found (many are suspected to have been scrapped during WWII) and at least two are going to be featured at the event. The Frank Lloyd Wright Fondation is helping with the search. So far, two cars have been confirmed for the show: an AC Six built in 1937 and a 1953 Bentley R-type Coup.

A councours d'elegance is an event for car collectors though, as an organizaer noted, Wright appeciated and owned beautiful cars, was no car collector:

Collectors get cars and they preserve them — he beat the hell out of them," Winkler said. "He used them and abused them and made them look the way he wanted them to look.

They were basic transportation, but when he went down the street he wanted to be noticed so he would drive cars or own cars that were very distinctive. And his tastes were superb as you would expect of an architect of his pedigree.

One car confirmed for the event is Wright's 1937 AC 16/80. The car, owned by Wright enthusiasts from Dallas, Texas, has been restored to the way it looked when Wright owned it. A famous photo of Wright and Olgivanna sitting in the AC was the cover photo of the Winter 2010 issue of the Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly. Purchased in 1948, Wright owned the AC until his death.