Saturday, 30 July 2016

‘Little Dipper’ School, by Frank Lloyd Wright



A private kindergarten building designed by Wright in 1923.

Wright proposed the same building as a children's building for Florida Southern College and that the general plan, greatly enlarged, formed the basis of the Roux Library there.
In a playful mood, perhaps, Wright here combines triangle, square, and circle in a single design


The “playhouse,” to be built on oil hieress Aline Barnsdall’s Olive Hill spread in Los Angeles, was designed (says architectural historian Donald Johnson) “to fit … on a steep slope halfway down the west side of Olive Hill and between two dirt roads.” Not the ideal location perhaps, but the one delivered to him by the client. "Approximately on axis" with Barnsdall’s Hollyhock House, the site overlooked the city, and with views to the Santa Monica Mountains to the north. So an unpromising site, but worth the effort. One that could have become a small landmark.

There was to be a single school room with a tiny one-step platform as a stage … Beyond the room and cut into the hill was to be a hemicycle of stepped stone and grass to act as seating to embrace a flat area of sand fo outdoor classes and play. Walls were to be of textile blocks of six different face designs and at least thirty bock designs were called for!


Like the four textile block houses also designed by Wright for Los Angeles that same decade, “each building is controlled by a dominant square room or, at Storer, a [sunlit] room with a module of two squares.”

The playhouse was to be one storey awkwardly (impractically) placed on steep land with the entrance steping down to the play room or up to a small roof terrace. The parti does not reflect the site’s disadvantages [says Johnson]…


Whatever the reasons, client and owner had fallen out over other matters by the time construction was to begin, and the school was never built. What did begin are now much-abused little ruins.


[Figure from On Frank Lloyd Wright's Concrete Adobe.Sketches from Save Wright, as published in Taschen, Frank Lloyd Wright 1917-1942.]


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