Saving Architecture

3 Nov

I was just reading an article from the newspaper that my parent’s sent to me about a Frank Lloyd Wright house that is for sale and came across one line that really struck me:

“(Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin) has no plans to buy the Arena house, Lilek said, because it already has a similar one. Also, the group wants the row of houses to be lived in. It was important to Wright to have people live in architect-designed homes, Lilek said.”

In market for a Frank Lloyd Wright house?
Sunday Republican, October 9, 2011

Though not the article I read here is an article on the house: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/28/frank-lloyd-wright-house-_n_985302.html

First thing I want to say is I wish I had a bit of money because the house is under $200,000. Sadly I don’t though if anyone is willing to get me a nice Christmas present I wouldn’t complain.

Really what struck me about this part of the article was that the conservation group was opting for someone to live in the house. Too often I hear stories about famous buildings that are treated like museums even when they were designed and built to be lived in. I am all for saving buildings but there is a point where it becomes crazy. Just because a building was designed by a famous architect doesn’t mean it should become a museum or saved at any cost. Having spent quite a bit of time at IIT I have seen that approach taken with Crown Hall and the other Mies buildings. Crown Hall was designed to be a workspace but we were constantly told to not do things because they might damage the building. This is why I was so struck by the statement that the Wright preservation group was preferring to have the house lived in rather than taking the approach I have seen by the Mies society of not accepting anything differnt than Mies designed. My big thing is there insistence on keeping single pane glass in all the buildings because Mies specified it when if he were alive today Mies would have used double pane glass, he was a forward thinker.

I know if I was to come back 50/100 years after my death I would be appealed if all my buildings had been turned into museums. They should be treated with respect but the design of them will be to be used. I want to know where people stand on the use vs. museum on famous architect’s buildings, especially those that are not the important ones.

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One Response to “Saving Architecture”

  1. Ryan November 6, 2011 at 6:24 PM #

    This is such an amazing point about the function of architecture! If a building was meant to be a museum, it would have been designed as such. I understand why people want to preserve certain buildings, and certainly I like that some are, but we also need to take into consideration the spirit of the people that designed them…what were they designed for, what type of person designed them (in the instance of Crown Hall, Mies was a FORWARD THINKER), etc.

    I think this also hits on the point about what our function is as architects. Do we design for people or do we design for other architects? As the group stated above via FLW, "people should live in architecture."

    I think we've found our answer!

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