Architecture of Place

The Lake Tahoe Summer Colony

In 1923, Wright began crafting plans for the Lake Tahoe Summer Colony, a large-scale, multi-unit retreat situated on the banks of, and floating on, Lake Tahoe’s famed Emerald Bay. He presented the owner of the 200-acre property—Jessie Armstrong—with meticulously detailed plans for a series of naturalistic cabins built into the rocky terrain, floating barge cabins and a large inn that would be constructed over the bay and linked to the mainland by a network of piers. 

Charged with creating architecture as an extension of the landscape, or as Wright described it, "Architecture of Place", he proposed several cabin types that would emulate their natural surroundings. The present lot is a set of three drawings for the Fir Tree type cabin, a design which evokes the evergreen in both overall form and detail.  

Ultimately, Wright could not convince Armstrong (or his investors) to proceed with the project, and the Lake Tahoe Summer Colony was never realized. Today, extensive plans and information surrounding the extraordinary project can be found in the archives of The Library of Congress

The true basis for any serious study of the art of architecture is in those indigenous structures, the more humble buildings everywhere, which are to architecture what folklore is to literature or folksongs are to music...All are happily content with what ornament and color they carry, as naturally as the rocks and trees and garden slopes which are with them.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright

During his seventy year career as an architect, Frank Lloyd Wright created more than 1,100 designs, half of which were realized and a large portion of which came about later in his life. Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin in 1867. He enrolled at the University of Wisconsin in 1885 to study civil engineering, completing only two years of the program. After working for Joseph Silsbee on the construction of the Unity Chapel in Oak Park, Illinois Wright decided to pursue a career in architecture and he moved to Chicago where he began an apprenticeship at the famed architectural firm Adler and Sullivan, working directly with Louis Sullivan until 1893.

After parting ways, Wright moved to Oak Park. Working from his home studio, he developed a system of design developed from grid units and rooted in an appreciation of natural materials that would come to be known as the Prairie School of Architecture and would change the landscape of American design forever. Wright devoted himself to teaching and writing during the 1920s and 1930s. 1935 marked the beginning of an immense surge of creativity and productivity as he began work on his most celebrated residential design, Fallingwater. In the 1940s and 1950s Wright focused on his Usonian designs that reflected his belief in democratic architecture, offering middle-class residential options. In 1943, Wright took on his most demanding commission, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The museum, which would open its doors six months after his death in 1959, would be called his most significant work.

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