Frank Lloyd Wright beyond America

Jones, G.L. 2013. Frank Lloyd Wright beyond America. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Architecture and the Built Environment

TitleFrank Lloyd Wright beyond America
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsJones, G.L.

This thesis is a cultural study of the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s (1867-1959) beyond his homeland of America. It explores Wright’s travels as a means of unravelling his global ambitions and legacy. Wright was born in the age of the horse and cart and died in the age of commercial jet travel; he not only experienced the rapid compression of space and time in methods of travel, but also participated in this globalising movement. His journeys beyond the USA were undertaken to promote his own global philosophy of ‘organic architecture’. Such cross-cultural dialogues are an important part of architectural history and theory, as well as of notions of ‘change’ and ‘progress’, and so within the thesis I re-enact six of Wright’s journeys to these different sites. In addition, I also rethink the traditional academic division of Wright’s career into his ‘Prairie House’ and ‘Usonian’ eras by proposing a third, final epoch constructed around his ‘Legacy’. My methodology for the thesis is based on the concept of gaining ‘situated knowledge’ from direct engagement with ‘Wrightian’ sites to deconstruct his ideas and projects. I also consider how Wright’s global 'organic' doctrine is actually now being experienced, and how people are living with his legacy in the early twenty-first century. The thesis adopts an experimental writing-as-design approach to research and as such I use a narrative mode of writing to negotiate between ‘creative’ and ‘critical’ perspectives of research. This method allows my experience to inform my analysis of Wright’s sites of influence to generate a better understanding of his architecture. Consequently, my layered narrative provides an alternative reading of Frank Lloyd Wright’s globalising ambitions by offsetting with tales of contemporary resistance that reclaim the term ‘organic architecture’ from being a bland global phenomenon to a highly articulated local expression of difference.

PublisherUniversity of Westminster
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