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Plans to Demolish Robie House Draw Criticism From Professors

'An Act of Barbarism'


The recently announced plans of the Chicago Theological Seminary to destroy Chicago's famed Robie House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1909, drew sharp criticism yesterday from a number of University faculty members.

Sigfried Giedion, professor of the History of Architecture at the Zurich Federal Institute of Technology and visiting lecturer on Architecture here, called the proposal "a crime, an act of barbarism."

Giedion said that the Robie house "is the starting point of contemporary architecture and the high-water mark of any of Frank Lloyd Wright's productions during his 'Chicago years.'"

Other members or the department of Architecture joined Giedion in calling the Robie House a "landmark in the history of American architecture." Walter Gropius, professor of Architecture, emertius, remarked that "for advanced conception this building impressed me more than any other when I first came to this country in 1928."

Seymour Slive, assistant professor of Fine Arts, said that "the larger issue involved here is that we should develop a consciousness of our national artistic monuments."

The Chicago Seminary is planning to demolish the Robie House shortly and to build a new dormitory for married students on the site. The Seminary has offered the House to the city of Chicago for removal to another area, but Wright has said that this would be as bad as demolition, since the building was designed as an integral part of the surrounding landscape.

Wright, currently in Baghdad designing an opera house, has offered to plan for the Seminary, free of charge, a dormitory "which would win the admiration of the world," if the Robie House were spared. But the Seminary has firmly, though politely, declined his offer.

A number of organized efforts to save the Robie House have recently been set in motion, and the Yale School of Design has sent letters to 45 colleges and universities.

In this circular, Vincent Scully, associate professor of the History of Art at Yale called the Robie House "an intrinsic expression of a peculiarly American culture. It is the culmination," he said, "of a full century of American attempts to find symbolic expression for some of the most deeply felt American myths and urgings."

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