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A long time ago, I published a post about a surprising Frank Lloyd Wright discovery in the state of Florida: he designed an entire campus for Florida Southern College, which I pass regularly on I-4 between Tampa and Orlando, right around “Orlampa.”

In a recent Wall Street Journal, I caught this article (“Wright’s House of Wax“) about an interesting site developed by Wright in the 1930s:

…the three-story administration building features a half-acre Great Workroom for clerical employees that is distinguished by an arboreal canopy created by a grid of “dendriform” columns and interspersed skylights. The resulting openness must seem even more refreshing today — in contrast to the tight, sterile spaces of Cubicle Nation — than when the building was completed in 1939.

It really does seem to have a 1930s sense of the futuristic. It’s nothing that we would recognize as so,  but what is odd to me, is that some of it seems to allude to a 70s design aesthetic. Even more odd, is that does not seem nearly as dated as that 70s design aesthetic. The bricks also remind me of the Southern college campus (Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida, Georgia) feel, though I guess it may in architectural circles harken more toward the Prarie School of the outdoors.

Apparently, in regards to this structure, Wright felt the following:

There in the Johnson Building you catch no sense of enclosure whatever at any angle, top or sides….Interior space comes free, you are not aware of any boxing in at all. Restricted space simply is not there. Right there where you’ve always experienced this interior constriction you take a look at the sky!

If this comment jars some memory for you, and you’re not an architect or architecture student, it may be that the pride and boast bring you back to Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, in which the author explicitly based some of Howard Roark on Frank Lloyd Wright, and mirrored his bold, individualistic architectural adventurism as a “romantic” exemplification of Objectivism. (More on the relationship between Rand and Wright here.)

Picture 1: interior of the ‘Great Workroom’

Picture 2: the interior court

Picture 3: main exterior

Picture 4: mezzanines


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