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  • 12.21.11

Frank Lloyd Wright: An Eco Visionary Before Green Became The Rage

An exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum tries to bill Wright’s “organic architecture” as a predecessor to the environmentally minded design of today.

One imagines that Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most famous architect, would’ve laughed mightily at the suggestion that he is linked to the environmentally minded architects who litter the profession nowadays. They’re just so earnest the way they like to talk about their green roofs and their fancy solar panels and their taste for group work and collaboration. Whereas FLW liked to… well, he liked to do other things.

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Yet, as a new exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum tries to show, Wright’s signature “organic architecture” was a powerful predecessor to today’s sustainable-design movement. You see it in everything from Fallingwater in Pennsylvania to Taliesin West in Arizona and many of the lesser-known projects in between: “Wright’s concerns with materials, efficient use of space, sustainable manufacturing, attention to local environment and use of natural light mirror those of contemporary architects worldwide,” James Ballinger, director of the Phoenix Art Museum, says. “This exhibition provides an exciting forum for which Wright’s work can be re-examined and applied to concerns of the day.”

That seems to ring particularly true in Arizona, where Wright designed more than a dozen buildings. But looking out over the state’s mind-numbing landscape of highways and tract houses, you wish architects drew on his ideas a little more.

Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century runs through April 29. More info here.

[Images courtesy of the Phoenix Art Museum]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.

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