Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Organic Architecture in Wisconsin
Wow. Just back from a whirlwind trip to Wisconsin where I visited (and revisited) some of Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings including this Madison gem - the First Unitarian Society Meeting House.
Constructed for $75,000 in the early 50's, the Meeting House became the iconic model for modern church architecture. Notice the extended brow. How many churches over the past 50 years have co-opted that dynamic architectural element? Unfortunately, the knock-offs usually have no understanding of "philosophy"; only a crude attempt to copy the "style," albeit in a stripped-down fashion. And, in a bit of humorous irony, many extended-brow churches sport a steeple on top - the opposite of the concept for the original building. I call those parodies "Frankenstein Buildings."
Frank Lloyd Wright made use of natural geometries - he urged designers to draw from Nature and not copy other buildings - and the Meeting House is a fine example. Notice the 30-60 degree triangles that show up in the composition, even in the shadows. Nature is full of 30-60-120 degree geometries. Look closely at the structure of stems and flowers next time you take a walk in the woods.
Church members pitched in to pull stone out of a local quarry to meet the budget. Using local materials is a basic tenant of sustainable architecture. Mr. Wright called it "organic architecture."
Find out more about the Meeting House at: