The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Saturday, June 23, 2018

Florida Campus Restoration Revives Frank Lloyd Wright's Vision
The William H. Danforth Chapel, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and is seen at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fla. The Florida Southern College campus is home to the world's largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. AP Photo/Julie Fletcher.

By: Jennifer Kay, Associated Press Writer

LAKELAND, FL (AP).- Like any other sunbather, Frank Lloyd Wright's "Child of the Sun" withered in Florida's heat, humidity and harsh sunlight.

Moisture seeped through the sand-and-cement blocks Wright used to build the chapels, library, planetarium and classroom and administrative buildings of Florida Southern College in the central Florida town of Lakeland, about 50 miles southwest of Orlando. The iron support bars knitting the blocks together rusted and swelled, causing walls to buckle.

Some of the "Child of the Sun" structures, constructed between 1939 and 1958, were altered as the college's needs changed, dimming the sunlight Wright wanted to illuminate his "organic" buildings.

The Wright-designed buildings on campus were named to the World Monument Fund's 100 most endangered sites in 2007. Funded by several grants, ongoing restoration projects are giving visitors a glimpse of the famed architect's original vision, and tours are available as well.

Child of the sun
Overshadowed by his homes and studios elsewhere, Florida Southern College is the only campus Wright designed, and it's the largest collection of his buildings in one place.

"This architecture represents the laws of harmony and rhythm," Wright said in 1950, when the college presented him with an honorary degree. "It's organic architecture and we have seen little of it so far. It's like a little green shoot growing in a concrete pavement."

Orange groves once filled the 100-acre, hilltop campus that slopes down into Lake Hollingsworth. Wright designed about a mile-and-a-half of covered walkways called esplanades to link his buildings through the groves.

Almost all the orange trees are gone now, but the esplanades echo the site's original environment. The trees had been planted 18 feet apart, so Wright staggered the columns supporting the low coverings at the same interval. In his trademark style, Wright repeats an abstract, geometric tree pattern through all the esplanades: Each column has a vertical base for a trunk, triangles form the branches and the thin concrete roof that connects them makes a shady canopy.

All the esplanades have been restored to the beachy beige color Wright chose for his campus buildings. A green copper, triangle-shaped trim has been revived at the edge of the canopy, except in the places where Wright substituted paint when a wartime shortage deprived him of copper. "If that's what was original to Wright's designs, that's what is being restored," said tour guide Mark Tlachac.

Water dome
The biggest restoration project on campus is also Wright's largest fountain project. Wright envisioned the "Water Dome" fountain, first completed in 1948 as the campus centerpiece, but it was a flat pool, and then a concrete plaza for decades until an extensive restoration was finished in 2007.

Arcs of water now gush from the fountain's 74 nozzles four times a day. The arcs create a liquid dome that can reach heights up to 45 feet — three stories of water — thanks to funding and engineering technology unavailable during Wright's lifetime.

The circular pool is painted the same aqua color Wright originally selected, a departure from the "Cherokee red" he preferred for concrete floors and other architectural accents throughout his other structures.

Smaller projects
The college also includes the only theater-in-the-round Wright ever built. The Fletcher Theatre is a circular amphitheater tucked into a corner of the long corridors of the Lucius Pond Ordway Building. Its convex roof has been repaired to improve the acoustics for theater classes, lectures and performances. Peeling paint was stripped to reveal the original sand-and-concrete blocks of its walls. Carpeting was pulled and the floor was restored to its original "Cherokee red," a deep burgandy-brown hue that Wright called a favorite color.

A small plaza inside the Ordway Building has been redesigned to match the spirit, if not the details, of Wright's original design for the space. Wright had envisioned a long, pool-like feature that was never built. Shrubs and trees filled the flat courtyard between glass-walled classrooms until 2008, when a grassy, sunken garden was installed as an open-air classroom and community space. Lily pads float in a square, Wright-designed pond maintained at one end of the new plaza.

Preservation work at the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, the tallest of the Wright buildings on campus, has included removing air conditioning ducts from exterior balconies and restoring original glass doors. This helps return the building to the more "natural" state Wright intended, Tlachac says, without modern conveniences obliterating the pyramid and arrow shapes below a bow-tie-shaped belfry.

Wright restoration projects require paying attention to the smallest details, such as door hinges. Wright wanted "piano hinges" — a solid line of small hinges for each door, instead of just two hinges at the top and bottom — on many of the doors, including the entrance to the Danforth Chapel. The hinges maintained Wright's geometric lines, and strengthened doors made from plywood, a new material at the time Wright's designs were being built, Tlachac says.

Building blocks
Wright originally designed 18 buildings for the college, though only 12 structures were built. His designs for faculty housing, which were never constructed, will be the basis for a new visitor center planned within the next couple years, college officials say.

Restoration will continue as the college gets funding. Upkeep of the Wright buildings can be a trial-and-error process, not unlike the experiments Wright made to get the shade of his "textile blocks" just right. The blocks in the facade of the Carter, Walbridge, Hawkins Seminar Building vary from gray to pink to brown to yellow as Wright tried sand from several Florida locales to mix with cement until he found the pale hue he wanted for his buildings (it was too expensive to just throw out the mistakes).

There are a few challenges, such as finding a way to hide the ventilation ducts atop the Wright-designed Polk County Science Building, completed in 1958. The ducts were installed to meet modern building codes, but give the otherwise low-lying, meditative building the look of a factory.

Wright never accounted for air conditioning vents in his buildings, but not because he didn't know about the technology, said Tlachac. "Mr. Wright didn't like air conditioning. He liked nature."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Florida Southern College | Frank Lloyd Wright | Child of the Sun" |

Today's News

February 3, 2010

Christie's London Sale Hits Target as Unseen Picasso Sells for $13 Million

Exhibition Celebrates A Collector Who Transformed The National Gallery Of Art

Magnum Photos Announces Partnership with Michael Dell for Its Archive Collection

Internationally Acclaimed Artist Jeff Koons to Create BMW Art Car

Christie's Sale Presents Exciting Selection of Post-War & Contemporary Art

Photocollages at the Metropolitan Reveal Wit and Whimsy of the Victorian Era

Marika Rivera, Daughter of Artist Diego Rivera, Dies in England

Zach Feuer Gallery Presents Group Exhibition "Spontaneous Generation"

Freeman's Auctioneers to Sell Remainder Of Lehman Brothers Art Collection

Eli Klein Fine Art Focuses on Emerging and Established Chinese Contemporary Artists

MoMA will Host Opening Night Benefit for the Armory Show 2010

La Fabrica Galeria in Madrid will Show Work by Shirin Neshat

Museum Tinguely Pays Ttribute to the Basel Fasnacht

Florida Campus Restoration Revives Frank Lloyd Wright's Vision

Bidder Confidence Strong with English Decorative Arts and Russian Faberge

Hajj Terminal in Saudi Arabia Selected to Receive 2010 AIA Twenty-five Year Award

Leandro Erlich to Inaugurate New Series of Exhibitions at Museum of Latin American Art

Plains Art Museum to Acquire Rosenquist's The North Dakota Mural

National Endowment for the Arts Announces $25,000 Logo Design Competition

Tony Bennett Paints 2010 Jazz Fest Poster

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Porsche Super Speedster offered for first time in 50 years at RM Sotheby's Porsche 70th Anniversary Auction

2.- Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens opens 'Storytelling: French Art from the Horvitz Collection'

3.- Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti stars Vincent Cassel as the famed French artist

4.- Stunning colored diamonds expected to dazzle at Heritage Auctions' Summer Fine Jewelry Auction

5.- US designer Kate Spade found dead at 55

6.- Vincent Van Gogh painting sells for over 7 million euros: Artcurial auction house

7.- Sir Stanley Spencer painting discovered hidden under a bed during a drugs raid

8.- Oxford's Bodleian Libraries unveil UK's first major Tolkien exhibition in decades

9.- Major exhibition at the Guggenheim explores decades of work by Alberto Giacometti

10.- World's largest freshwater pearl goes for 320,000 euros

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful