Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Organic Architecture - Frank Lloyd Wright's Meeting House in Madison

Here are a few more photos of the First Unitarian Society Meeting House in Madison, Wisconsin.

When construction bids came in "too high" for the church's budget, Frank Lloyd Wright went to a young contractor - Marshall Erdman - and promised to make him famous if he would build the building for $75,000.

Erdman accepted the challenge.

And true to his word, Wright talked Erdman up, gave him some additional work, and within the next few decades, Erdman would go on to be the largest constructor of medical clinics in America.

Erdman carried out several ingenious ideas over his career (he died in 1995 at the age of 72). To create synergy within his construction company, he started a line of component furniture that his stable of carpenters put together when they were not building cabinetry for their construction projects, insuring the continuous year-round employment for his over-1000-person construction team.

He also acquired the largest private collection of art in Wisconsin by making it a part of his business plan. Original art was purchased at healthy prices from local artists along with reproduction rights. Erdman ran off a series of prints from each art piece, and sold them to the clinics he built. Their art director puts together a custom package for each job.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw this article on Wright's Unitarian Church on University Avenue in Madison on

The version of my article on the Robert Berger house, which is on zimbio, is my draft before I sent it to prairiemod. They added a little text and some photos. Their version is at:

I lived in Madison from 1956 to 1978 and was in the Unitarian Church many times. I lived across University Avenue from the Church for a time. When my wife and I first came to Madison there was a bell hanging in front of that triangular glass front facing northeast. I may have a color slide somewhere showing that bell. It was taken down a few days later. Bernard Pyron