Saturday, 21 October 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright, and the importance of the built environment

Listening in this weekend to the Wright Society Virtual Summit (you all could be too, you know), I'm really enjoying hearing Frank Lloyd Wright's clients talking about their homes, and their lives in and around them.

Roland Reisley was just 26 years old when he joined a housing cooperative in Pleasantville, New York, able to commission Wright to design the community and several of the houses, including their own. "We didn't dream of approaching Frank Lloyd Wright, ordinary people don't do that," smiles Reisley today, 67 years later. But when the community founder showed Wright the site thus began "a wonderful, long, productive and happy relationship with him."

Asked what he has learned after a lifetime of living in and enjoying his Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian home — enjoying every day the nature of the design, seeing the seasons change, how the light passes through the home, Reisley sums up with a very important observation about what essentially makes good architecture:
I came to realise after many years … a pinch-me realisation, that after many years there had not been a single day of my life, even the bad days that happen in every life, where I was not aware of seeing something beautiful. I always, every day of my life, [am saying] ‘isn’t that lovely’ — whether it’s … in the morning I look up and see the way the wood is mitred in certain places, and how it contrasts with the light through the window which is either nice and green fro the trees or white with snow; and I could go on with similar awareness.     “We sit outside (in summer-time) … and look around and say ‘isn’t it beautiful!,’ ‘isn’t it wonderful!’ — every day, every time…
    Neuroscientists have observed … that living with a sense of awareness of beauty brings a sense of comfort, a reduction of stress, and these other kinds of things, that may contribute to physical and emotional health, possibly even longevity. I’m 93 years old! I’m in very  good shape for 93 years old. I like to attribute that to this sense of beauty that I’ve lived in all my life.
   It also has made me very conscious, as I talk about this house and the architecture and how it makes me feel, of the importance of the built environment generally.     “I remark these days not just to visitors but to architects as well: ’You know, these buildings are just objects. We may like how they look, we may not like how they look, but what matters is how they make us feel. When we’re in this environment, does it feel good, does it [make us] feel better, does it feel enriching. And that may or may not coincide with whether we like the way it looks. I think Wright understood that, and he created environments in which people feel good.
Not a trivial point.

[Pics from the Wright Society Virtual Summit Guide, and The Weekly Wright Write-Up]

1 comment:

  1. Your voice is getting fainter ... please come back - strong voices for capitalism are needed now more than ever.


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