Organic Architecture: The Other Modernism
Photographs by Alan Weintraub
Text by Alan Hess
A century of Organic architecture has given the world an opulent, exuberant, often defiant variety of houses based on the patterns and forms of nature. Frank Lloyd Wright, the best known of the Organic architects, blended his houses into spectacular natural settings using stone and natural wood. In addition to presenting a thorough evaluation of Frank Lloyd Wright, Organic Architecture: The Other Modernism also presents the wide range of architects who went far beyond Wright to turn Organic architecture into an ongoing school of Modern design.
The natural environment of their chosen sites often shaped the designs of Organic architects. They drew inspiration from the sun and winds, the stone and trees, the views and lessons of the natural world. Architect Bruce Goff created delicate flower-like structures out of high-tech materials; John Lautner used concrete to create great wave-like homes with free-flowing spaces; Fay Jones designed ethereal wood constructions that echo the forests of his native Arkansas. They and the other architects represented in this book constitute a deep and enduring stream of Modern design.
For most of the twentieth century, Organic architects battled the steel, boxy architecture of the Bauhaus for primacy in the world of Modern architecture. It was a struggle of Nature versus Machine. Rooted in a pioneering attitude of self-reliance and rugged individualism, the often uncompromising, often cantankerous Organic designers frequently found themselves outside the architectural establishment-they indeed were "the other Modernism." And yet they thrived. Popular shelter magazines celebrated their unconventional, often futuristic buildings. For a public bored with glass-box architecture, the dream of a home of warm natural wood, stone, and curving organic surfaces was widely appealing.
This volume reveals the full story of Modern architecture based on the Organic design principles. The revived enthusiasm for Mid-Century Modernism over the last decade has only begun to scratch the surface of the full range of superb design and architecture after 1940. Organic design was, in fact, a big part of avant-garde design in that period.
Beginning with the popular Prairie style in the Midwest around 1900, the Organic Architecture movement had its successes and failures as cycles of taste evolved. Reborn in 1935 with Frank Lloyd Wright's famous design for Fallingwater in western Pennsylvania, a generation of architects, which included Alfred Browning Parker, Charles Haertling, and Alden Dow, created a lively variety of Organic houses from Florida to Illinois, Texas to Colorado, Arizona to California. Today, the irrepressible forms of Organic design are alive and well in a new generation of architects featured in this book.
Organic Architecture is the story of a sometimes stubborn, sometimes transcendental struggle to create a modern habitation for humans in touch with nature by pushing back the frontier of what is possible. Organic architecture's longevity and its ongoing influence continue to exert a strong pull on the direction of Modern architecture.show more