Friday, July 01, 2005

FLW Building Conservancy Annual Conference

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Annual ConferenceHistoric Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, California, October 19 – 23, 2005


During the years between the two World Wars, Frank Lloyd Wright and some of his most innovative followers found Los Angeles to be a place of special promise, as did many in the arts. Wright’s strong ties with the city began, in fact, in 1917, with his commissions from Aline Barnsdall for a series of buildings that would have transformed her beloved Olive Hill. Only Hollyhock house and two related residences were realized, but Wright’s sweeping vision for the site embodied a new, more urban sense of scale that presaged much of his later work. Sensing opportunities that the rapidly expanding city would provide, Wright even opened an office in Los Angeles following his return from Japan in 1922, briefly entering into partnership with his son, Lloyd Wright. During the years that followed, stimulated by new clients and new terrain, he developed architectural prototypes of far-reaching consequence. Exploring advanced building technologies and untried geometric patterns, he addressed a broad range of issues affecting the city, most critically suburban development and vehicular traffic. In his experiments with custom-designed concrete blocks, he sought an expressive, yet affordable building system of masonry units. Four realized houses of 1923-24 (Millard, Storer, Freeman, and Ennis) suggest the greater potentials of his unrealized schemes, most notably the Doheny Ranch development (1923) for what is now part of Beverly Hills.

Wright soon closed his Los Angeles office and returned to Taliesin, but Lloyd Wright remained, producing pioneering work of his own and establishing strong ties with the Hollywood community. Among Wright’s other Los Angeles progeny, two who apprenticed with him in the 1920s—Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra—pushed further in defining a new architecture for the area. Their continued explorations of new building technologies, and their perceptive responses to a suburbanizing, automobile-oriented city, distinguish the period. Before its close, Wright himself received new commissions within the region. As the Sturges house (1939) shows, he had begun to explore a new vocabulary. To supervise its construction he sent a young apprentice: John Lautner, one of a new generation of followers who would help shape Los Angeles in the post-War period. The careers of these younger architects, together with later Los Angeles work by Wright and his older progeny, will be the subject of a future Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy conference.

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