Sunday, September 17, 2017


Spring Green sounds like the name of a festival or a household cleaner, and maybe it is, but it is also a small town in rural Wisconsin, about 35 miles west of Madison.

Frank Lloyd Wright lived and worked for much of his career at Taliesin, a compound he designed near Spring Green, just above the Wisconsin River, on old family property. There is a working farm and a still-used architecture studio (maintained much as the original, albeit with computers for the students), but the main attraction is the house.

D and I were struck, pretty much on the foreheads, with the low ceilings. Apparently, FLW did this on purpose (we assume the contractors didn't just misread the plans?). Was it because it helped him call attention to the horizontal lines of his designs (form before function?) or because he was fairly short and there was some sort of personal psychological rationale for this? I'm sure there have been theses (in psychology or in architecture?) written on this, but I have not read them.

The site is nicely kept up and the preservation folks are doing their best to try to keep the place from falling down, but clearly there are a few maintenance challenges. Some of these may stem from design or construction shortcomings. On the other hand, the place is getting old and much of this is to be expected.

Despite my skepticism about some of the more practical aspects of this work (he also wasn't very good at designing comfortable furniture), I really like his sense of design and I appreciate the way he built things to fit into their surroundings. Apparently, Taliesin is Welsh for "shining brow," which works well for this home perched near the top of a hill.

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