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Collections & Critiques

By Jack Wilner

Architecture has long been considered by many to be a dusty compatriot of archaeology, that superficially dustier aspect of the history of man on the earth. Now such an attitude on the part of most people is not so much attributable to architecture itself as it is to its exponents and their manner of presenting the art to the average, and usually artistically phlegmatic, individual. Of the comparatively few men who have succeeded in making a small part of our population structure-conscious. Frank Lloyd Wright is perhaps foremost. "Man takes a positive hand in creation whenever he puts a building upon the earth beneath the sun. If he has a birthright at all, it must consist in this: that he, too, is no less a feature of the landscape than the rocks, trees, bears or bees of that nature to which he owes his being". These words, found in a book recently published by Wright, might give an inkling of the man's stimulating attitude toward those buildings which form such an integral part of our daily lives.

His plans are flexible; his constant desire to accentuate the natural quality of the material at his disposal gives rise to an unstultified and graceful structure. In his plans for homes, Wright's continued emphasis on the horizontal and rather low-slung design for prairie dwellings is an example of his successful attempt to make architecture conform to the contours of the surrounding countryside. His expert handling of the floating cantilever principle in constructing the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo enabled that building to withstand the great earthquake of 1923. In short, the man has succeeded in combining grace and utility, those two perfect mates who are seldom seen together, in almost every building he has created.

It is a source of great satisfaction to find that Mr. Wright will deliver a lecture in Boston at Hancock Hall, the evening of January 24th. It is difficult to say whether or not he will again stir the audience with bursts of inspirational fire the way he did eight years ago, when he last appeared in Boston in the role of speaker. At any rate, it will probably be his last appearance in this part of the country, for being close to seventy now, he will undoubtedly return to his little experimental colony in Arizona and continue to produce theories and buildings which, in the past, have met with Homeric praise, and as is the case with any man of genius, bitter resentment.

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