The mid-twentieth century was one of the most productive and inventive periods in Wright's career, producing such masterworks as the Guggenheim Museum, Price Tower, Fallingwater, the Usonian houses, and the Loveness House, as well as a vast array of innovative furniture and object design. With a variety of shapes and forms-ranging from honeycombs to spirals-this period is an important contribution to mid-century modernism. Mentoring such talents as Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler among others, Wright was one of the most influential proponents of the simplicity, democratic designs, and organic forms that characterize Mid-Century Modern. With lavish, new, previously unpublished color photographs and detailed plans, Frank Lloyd Wright: Mid-Century Modern is a comprehensive examination of an underserved period in Wright's career.
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Alan Weintraub is a widely published architectural photographer whose books include Oscar Niemeyer Houses, Frank Lloyd Wright: The Houses, and The Architecture of John Lautner among others. Alan Hess is an architect and architecture critic for the San Jose Mercury News, whose books include Frank Lloyd Wright: The Houses, Oscar Niemeyer Houses, and The Architecture of John Lautner. John Zukowsky is the former curator of architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago and the current chief curator at the Intrepid, Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. Monica Ramírez-Montagut is the assistant curator of architecture and design at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Richard Meier In the decade since the first volume dedicated to my residential architecture was published I have engaged in any number of projects conceived for the public realm, from a proposal for the World Trade Center site in New York to the Jubilee Church in Rome. And whether the physical scale of these projects was ambitious, as was The Getty Center in Los Angeles, or intimate, in the manner of the Burda Collection Museum in Baden-Baden, their shared status as public spaces necessitated an open and direct relationship with their contexts, both physical and cultural. But throughout the course of these projects, whether they brought me to the West Coast of the United States, to Italy, Germany, China, or anywhere else in the world, I have never abandoned the pursuit of residential projects. On the contrary, projects designed to accommodate and give expression to the private lives of others have proven to be a way forward in the continued development of my work as I enter my forty-fifth year of leading my own practice. From the beginning, I considered houses to be among the most important of my early commissions. I believe this to be true for most architects embarking on their own professional course. The residential commission allows one to formulate ideas and develop a set of principles that, one hopes, will inform future work for a long time to come. In my case, however, I have never let go of the preoccupation with the design of a house, so that the private residential commission has remained a constant in my career. I have stated many times that houses occupy a unique place in architecture. As an expression of architectural ideas they are an essential type. Formally they are likely to offer the most intimate scale at which to work. And symbolically they have always maintained a potent force, both as a vivid representation of lives lived inside their walls and as a powerful influence over the changing course of architecture over centuries. In a sense, my first commission for a house--indeed, my first independent commission ever--encapsulated these qualities of being essential, potent, perhaps even revolutionary, at least on a personal level. Built on the southern dunes of New York's Fire Island, the Lambert House of 1962 relied on an extremely simple design to take full advantage of the already spectacular natural environment surrounding it. Of course, thesimplicity of its form was dictated not only by the beauty of the landscape, but also by the client's budget. At the time, advertisements for prefabricated log cabins were common, and it occurred to me that a manufacturer might be able to precut the basic components necessary to construct a house that would forgo the nostalgic flourishes of the traditional log cabin. And in fact I was right, the result being the completion of the Lambert House over the course of nine days at a cost of $11,000.
The following year I was called to design a house for the type of client that can be the most rewarding and the most challenging for a young architect: one's own parents. As I recall, my parents, Carolyn and Jerome Meier, desired specifically a house that would be simultaneously comfortable and "exciting" to live in. The house was sited on a quiet suburban street, and its low, sleek profile was modulated by two cylindrical turrets rising to a height of 20 feet, giving the project a stature comparable to that of the superficially grander traditional houses surrounding it. If you look closely, you will see some of the furniture in the living room of my parents' house make a repeat appearance in a photograph of an apartment at 165 Charles Street. It is the apartment belonging to my daughter, Ana, and it is a joy for me to see her and my parents' homes both illustrated in this volume.
The building at 165 Charles Street, completed in 2006, is part of an informal trio of residential towers located in lower Manhattan along the Hudson River. I say informal because the other two towers, 173/176 Perry Street, were commissioned by a separate client and completed four years earlier. These first two towers signaled a watershed event on a number of levels. First, 173/176 Perry Street represent my first full-scale project to be completed in Manhattan (though in 1970 I did complete the renovation of the interior spaces of the Westbeth Artists' Housing, a former Bell Telephone laboratory facility also located along the Hudson River, only three blocks north of Perry Street). The towers at Perry Street were also my first commercial residential project to be completed. Since then, I have of course completed the third tower at 165 Charles Street, and I will soon see the completion of residential projects in Brooklyn and the East Side of Manhattan, in Jesolo, Italy, outside of Venice, and in Philadelphia, Miami, Beverly Hills, and Tel Aviv.
What makes these projects exciting for me is their inclusion of public space within a residential program. This refers to not only the plaza spaces at the ground-floor levels of 173/176 Perry Street and 165 Charles Street, for example; I am also referring to something less tangible--the synergy that emerges from the activity between the three towers, the adjacent park along the river, and the surrounding neighborhood (the uniquely vibrant West Village). What I am speaking of here is something tantalizingly close to planning on the urban scale. For this reason the project on the East Side of Manhattan, the East River Master Plan, is very special to me. It comprises multiple residential towers, but, perhaps more important, necessitates the creation of large-scale public spaces that will serve the entire neighborhood and connect it to a magnificent public promenade at the river's edge. For my own part, it is a profound link between the domestic and urban scales: the house as the gateway to the city.
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