December 9th, 2018
It is said that Fallingwater is the most beautiful house in the world. Blending in yet somehow managing to stand out, it certainly is one of the most unique structures we have ever seen and, from all Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses, the one I would love to live in (if I could afford the millions necessary for its preservation).
Fallingwater was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2019.
September 3rd, 2018
The Rookery was designed by Daniel Burnham and John Root, heads of one of Chicago’s most famous architectural companies of the 19th century and, like most of Chicago’s early skyscrapers, it was built to last.
A sturdy structure with a red brick facade, elaborately adorned with elements reminiscent of Moorish architecture and Mr. Root’s open-mouthed crows (or rooks) to which – no, the building does not owe its name*, cast-iron columns and mosaics, upon its completion in 1888 it was considered Burnham and Root’s masterpiece; today, it is the oldest standing high-rise and one of the most recognisable buildings in Chicago.
But it wasn’t the famous rooks, nor the cast-iron columns and mosaics, original parts of which were uncovered during renovation and were left open for comparison that had brought us here; it was what lay inside that we eager to see.
I mean, of course, the central light court with its glass ceiling, two-storey lobby, magnificent spiral staircase, and the unmistakable touch of Mr Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect in charge of the building’s first major renovation in 1905-1907. Although Mr. Wright made some very important changes like, for instance, dressing the original copper-plated ironwork in white marble with gold patterns, he generally respected the original design. The result is an airy, modern interior that breathes, so much different from the heavy art-deco lobbies of other historical buildings in Chicago.
And it is absolutely stunning.
*The Rookery was built on the site of an initial Water Tower later turned into the City Hall. It seems that the building has been called a “rookery” due to the nickname of the former City Hall that had crows on its walls and crooked politicians inside it (according to our guide).
While you can wander about the ground floor freely, the upper level is only open to guided tours. Check for info on the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust website, or in their brick and mortar office/shop, on-site.
November 2nd, 2017
Upstate New York may be home to numerous natural wonders but some of the man-made ones are also a sight to behold. Like, for instance, The Martin House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for wealthy Buffalo businessman Darwin D. Martin and his family between 1903-1905. It was our first real-life encounter with a Frank Lloyd Wright building, besides the Guggenheim in Manhattan.
The house is actually a complex, consisting of six interconnected buildings which include the main Martin House, a pergola that connects it to a conservatory and carriage house with chauffeur’s quarters and stables, the Barton House, a smaller residence for Martin’s sister and brother-in-law, and a gardener’s cottage added in 1909.
But Frank Lloyd Wright didn’t stop at the building. He went on to design – or, at least have the last word of approval for – everything in the Martin House; that includes the landscape, interior furnishings, light fixtures, art glass, and selections of artwork and artifacts for interior decoration.
Apropos of the art glass, there are 394 examples – some original pieces – of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed art glass in the complex, including the famed “Tree of Life” window.
But, perhaps, the most surprising fixture, one that I had never expected to encounter in a prairie house in Buffalo N.Y. – even one as prominent as The Martin House – was a cast of the Hellenistic sculpture of Nike or Victory of Samothrace – Νίκη της Σαμοθράκης. A cast so large, it is visible from the front door, some 180 feet away.
According to our guide, Nike was one of Wright’s favourite sculptures and copies can be found in many of his buildings. But only in the Martin House did he place one of such magnificent scale.
The Martin House is open to the public but can only be visited on a tour. There are different tours available, including a ”Photography” one (which we didn’t take). Otherwise, photography of the interiors is not permitted, save for the pergola leading to the statue of Nike.