On Frank Lloyd Wright's Concrete Adobe: Irving Gill, Rudolph Schindler and the American Southwest, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

On Frank Lloyd Wright's Concrete Adobe

Irving Gill, Rudolph Schindler and the American Southwest, 1st Edition

By Donald Leslie Johnson


258 pages

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During the years 1919 into 1925 Frank Lloyd Wright worked on four houses and a kindergarten located in metropolitan Los Angeles using concrete blocks as the main building material. The construction system has been described by Wright and others as ’uniquely molded’, ’woven like a textile fabric’ and perceived as ground breaking, truly modern, unprecedented. Many have attempted to uphold these claims while some thought the house-designs borrowed from old exotic buildings. For the first time this book brings together Wright’s declarations, the support of upholders and inferences in order to determine their accuracy and correctness, or the possibility of feigned or fictional stories. It examines technical developments of concrete blocks by Wright and others before his experiences in Los Angeles began in 1919. It also studies the manner of Wright’s design process by an examination of relevant pictorial and textual documents. A unique, in-depth and critical analysis of the houses is set within historical, biographical and theoretical contexts. Consequently, the book explains the impact upon Wright of California contemporaries, architects Irving Gill and Rudolph Schindler, and their instrumentally profound role upon the course of modernism 1907-1923. In doing so, it allows a full appreciation of Wright’s, Gill’s and Schindler’s buildings beyond their experiential qualities.


’Don Johnson is an authority on Frank Lloyd Wright. He is also an experienced architectural historian who takes nothing for granted, and tenaciously goes back to basics - the original documents, the buildings themselves, and their historical context - when investigating tendentious historical claims. This challenging study of Wright’s five concrete block houses deals with what was perhaps a minor phase in Wright’s prodigious output, but Johnson’s highly original conclusions have very wide implications for our understanding of architectural mythology, the regional architecture of the south-west, and the character and reputation of Frank Lloyd Wright himself.’ Gilbert Herbert, Technion: Israel Institute of Technology, Israel

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; introduction; Questions, events … and precast concrete; The buildings; The Taylors and the Griffins; Tiles and blocks; Wright’s fiction; Historians’ fiction; Irving Gill, regionalism and concrete adobe; Closure … Schindler and resurgence; Appendices; References; Index.

About the Series

Ashgate Studies in Architecture

Ashgate Studies in Architecture
The discipline of Architecture is undergoing subtle transformation as design awareness permeates our visually dominated culture. Technological change, the search for sustainability and debates around the value of place and meaning of the architectural gesture are aspects which will affect the cities we inhabit. This series seeks to address such topics, both theoretically and in practice, through the publication of high quality original research, written and visual. Topics to be covered include the following: Architectural history and theory and their relationship to the development of the discipline, building conservation, heritage and creative adaptation. The formal and aesthetic values of architectural design, the diversity of its expression of identity, and its representation in other media. The impact of technological innovation on the materialisation of architecture and the questions surrounding environmental sustainability, experimentation and visionary design The social and psychological context of architectural production, its relationship to occupants, clients and to other creative and professional disciplines, and the political situation in which it is commissioned. Proposals will be welcomed which explore or connect aspects of these themes. Subjects which deal with individual architects, with specific buildings or building types, and the critical interpretation of historical and contemporary architecture from a theoretical or philosophical perspective are particularly encouraged. Architecture's embodiment of technical, social, and aesthetic aspects will also be emphasised.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Adaptive Reuse & Renovation