We propose to investigate the nature of progressive architectural practice through the analytical deconstruction and subsequent physical reconstruction of a selection of Frank Lloyd Wright's building details. The experimental assemblies found in many of his innovative buildings are evidence of Wright's desire to challenge the boundaries of conventional construction and were integral to the success of his architecture. As such, they warrant exploratory research that will contribute to the critical dialogue surrounding one of the most exceptional and prolific builders of the Modern era. Whether valorized as representative of his commitment to a Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), or perceived to have failed the test of time, these architectonic vehicles should be considered as micro-architectures in their own right. The analysis of these assemblies (eg. the dendriform columns and the Pyrex glass-tube façade of the Johnson Wax Headquarters) will reveal valuable conceptual and pragmatic lessons on the pioneering of innovative building technologies and methodologies. These lessons will resonate with contemporary architectural practice, given its preoccupations with advanced fabrication technology and passive environmental control: Wright's interests and innovations anticipated both. It is essential that these lessons be demonstrated in built form, as it is in execution that these contemporary practices face their greatest challenge. This investigation will take place between May and September 2008, and will consist of three phases: archival and in-situ research and analysis, physical reconstruction, and finally installation and publication.This project will serve as preliminary research for our subsequent collaborative Master of Architecture thesis project, where we will explore the tension between the sustainable and conceptual desires of architecture through the fabrication of full-scale building assemblies.
Frank Lloyd Wright Deconstruction and Reconstruction
As the 2007-2008 Howarth-Wright Fellows at the University of Toronto Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, Luke Stern and I will be spending the summer of 2008 investigating Frank Lloyd Wright's pioneering building technologies and methodologies and demonstrating their relevance to contemporary practice. An excerpt from our Fellowship proposal is shown below.