was it like working for the master of modern?
I was a student and hardly a co-worker. I always found him, despite the legends,
to be remarkably patient and good humored. I think that the other Mr. Wright
one hears about existed, but he wasn't the person I knew.
did you handle his frustration when details were not just so?
He took himself, as they say, with a grain of salt. If he was frustrated, it
was with his own work. As to details he was not a perfectionist in small things.
He worked with what to him were the important issues: space, light, beautiful
materials and the relationship to nature. He clearly designed in a way that
details were not made intrusive and demand your attention.
he have a favorite material to work with?
In addition to his pallet of natural materials, he was always intrigued by new
materials and his dream was to find an ideal material of complete plasticity.
of Wright's biographers are critical of projects being done without his supervision.
They are calling these projects ersatz Wright. What do you say to the skeptics?
Mr. Wright left his designs to his Foundation with the intent that they would
be built someday. He had faith in these designs, that all were good ideas and
worthy of serious consideration.
When he was working
on the Monona Terrace for the City of Madison he came back from a meeting and
said a little downcast, "Well, they're not going to build it now."
But ever buoyant, he turned and swung his cane and said, "But someday they will!"
He was 85 and it
was clear that he accepted the fact that he might not be around to see it happen.
However, the skeptic will always be the skeptic and there's little we can do
about it. The buildings are being built at the wish of the Frank Lloyd Wright
Should his designs
be built now?
To say "No, they shouldn't" is like maintaining that
because Bach and Mozart are no longer with us to direct the orchestra, their
music shouldn't be performed. We also seem to accept the fact that when this
music is played it is almost never performed on the instruments of the time
and so on. Beautiful things are their own reason to exist.
Mr. Wright's intention
always was to create. As in The Winters Tale, "...the art (that)
itself is nature." Speaking of which, I think he would be pleased to find
each of the Buffalo projects (a boathouse on the Niagara River, a mausoleum and a "modern" service station) on more generous sites with room to breathe.
compromises have you had to make from Wright's original intentions?
He did not have to consider modern building codes, which obviously we do. We're not pumping gas at the Gas Station but we can light his fireplaces -- which
I doubt anyone would have had the nerve to do in the original. The boathouse,
thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers, is higher above the water line than would have
been the case in the 1900s. The structures of all the projects are of greater
permanence but I don't believe this characteristic compromises the originals.
completion of the Buffalo, N.Y. projects, how will you celebrate?
I'll get on with my own work.
do you think your old boss would say to you when you're done?
I don't know, but I do know it would be witty, insightful and that he would
instantly, as he always did, start talking about the next project.
When asked what was the best design he had ever done his answer was ever "The
words of Wright's stay with you?
Among many perhaps..."The periphery of architecture is expanding with amazing
rapidity but its center remains the same. The human heart."