Frank Lloyd Wright & Florida Southern College - Fascinating Details

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Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida has the largest group of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings on one site in the world. Ludd Spivey, college president from 1925 to 1957, contracted Wright to design and build a number of structures on the FSC campus.  Twelve of the eighteen buildings he planned were constructed between 1938 and 1958.

   

Frank Lloyd Wright was considered the most uniquely American architect at the time Spivey was working with him at Florida Southern. Wright called his style organic architecture and he firmly rejected the classical style borrowed mainly from Europe.  His approach to architecture was rooted in nature and he was strongly influenced by the elements of structural design and culture of Japan.  Wright was captivated by Japan’s inherent use of simplicity and natural forms in building, landscape, art and textiles. However, expressing the American spirit and culture was one of Wright’s most noteworthy objectives. He preferred to use native materials, such as local stone and rocks and worked with the landscape at hand to create a distinctively American style of architecture.

 

Wright wrote, “In Organic Architecture then, it is quite possible to consider the building as one thing, its furnishing another and its setting and environment still another.  The Spirit in which these buildings are conceived sees all these together at work as one thing."

 

He also said, [A building] " is conceived in an organic sense, all ornamentation is conceived as of the very ground plan and is therefore of the very constitution of the structure itself."

 

Wright was interested in harmony, unity and geometry and these concepts are all apparent in the FSC buildings. Each structure on the Florida Southern campus is unique but all of the buildings are indelibly stamped with the brilliance of Wright.

 

Wright used the flexibility of concrete to create beauty. He combined it with wood, sand and metal and created cantilevered roofs, variously molded angles and forms, soaring ceilings and glass encrusted walls.

 

All of the Wright buildings on the campus contain many details, including distinctive use of colored glass and unique furniture made just for the structure.

 

On the FSC campus Frank Lloyd Wright has created a significant record of twentieth century architecture.

 

The Wright buildings on the Florida Southern Campus:

           

Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel

Cora Carter Seminar

Charles W. Hawkins Seminar

Isabel Walbridge Seminar

Esplanade

E.T. Roux Library, (now the Thad Buckner Building)

Emile E. Watson Administration Building

Benjamin Fine Administration Building

J. Edgar Wall Waterdome

Industrial Arts Building, (now the Lucius Pond Ordway Building)

William H. Danforth Chapel

Polk County Science Building

 

 
On this site are photographs I have taken of many of the Wright buildings on the FSC campus. As a librarian at the Roux Library, I have an interest in the details of Wright's work and therefore my photos reflect this.  
 
References:
 
Birk, Melanie., ed.  Frank Lloyd Wright's Fifty Views of Japan, the 1905 Photo Album. San Francisco: Pomegranate Artbooks, 1996.
 
Burns, Robert. "Forum on the Arts." National Forum,  Summer 2000: 80, 3, 8-. EbscoHost. Roux Library, Lakeland FL. 23 October 2005.
 
Dunham, Judith and Scot Zimmerman.  Details of Frank Lloyd Wright, The California work, 1909-1974. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1994.
 
Lind, Carla. The Wright Style.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
 
Secrest, Meryle. Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.
 
Wright, Frank Lloyd. An Autobiography. New York: Horizon Press, 1977.
 
 
 
 
 

Copyright 2005-2007  Nora Galbraith

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Looking up - a corner of the original Roux library.

Wright detail - Polk Science building

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Colored glass in chapel wall

Copyright 2005-2007
Please do not use or upload any photos.
Questions? Email flplaid8@yahoo.com
May 2007