Quote of the Week: Frank Lloyd Wright

As most everybody knows, in addition to being an extreme design genius, Frank Lloyd Wright was a bit of grump. He really only liked things to be one way: the way he said.

True to form, he thought gas stations were the beginning of evil. And if you think “evil” and “suburbia” are synonymous, I guess you’d agree. I think maybe he just didn’t like them because it was one more thing out of his control, although he did control this one which he designed the year before he died. That design, however, has nothing to do with this quote:
“Watch the little gas station.... In our present gasoline service station you may see a crude beginning to such important advance decentralization; also see the beginning of the future humane establishment we are now calling the free city. Wherever service stations are located naturally these so often ugly and seemingly insignificant features will survive and expand. [The new city] is all around us in the haphazard making, the apparent forces to the contrary notwithstanding. All about us and no plan. The old order is breaking up.” -- Frank Lloyd Wright, 1930

Poor Frank. The old order has broken. He must be spinning, right?


Anonymous said…
You apparently know very little about Frank Lloyd Wright. He was in favor of the "important advance decentralization" and the breaking up of "the old order." He designed Broadacre City the epitome of suburbia where everyone had an acre lot. He was in favor of the car and hated cities.
I do, of course know about Broadacre City... it hardly fit this particular brief. What are you, Anonymous? A roving FLW fan? Too funny.

Have you looked closely at his vision for Broadacre City? (A vision, btw, not stated until a few years after this quote.) Combine the vision with what you know of the man: Broadacre City would have been an overdesigned nightmare. The earthly manifestation of the vision of megalomaniac. A distopia straight out of science fiction.

Oh... wait... what was your point?
John McFetridge said…
Well, whatever, he was sure right about, "All about us and no plan."

I've never heard of Broadacre City (it's a great dystopian sci-fi name, though, isn't it?) but I live in Toronto and everyday it spreads further out, taking more land for development with no plan. A new housing development goes in and the first thing that opens is the gas station - well, the new version with the fast food place and convenience store inside (and they all look the same). It's as unstoppable as it is unsustainable.

Sometimes I think I'd like a whole acre to myself, but it seems rather selfish these days. Besides, I live in the core of the city and love it, I couldn't imagine living somewhere I couldn't walk everywhere I need to go (or hop on the subway).
John McFetridge said…
Wait, I didn't mean selfish. What I meant was big suburban lots don't seem like a good idea. That's different from rural living, which I think is a great idea if you can manage it.
Wow, John: I really get the dystopian Sci-Fi novel thing in this context. Actually, if you read a bit about Wright's vision for it, you really start to see it just that way. I did, anyway. Plus, you know, there's that whole mad genius thing he had going on. And the megalomania. He would have loved to have recreated the world in his image, for sure.

Here's selfish: we have *10* whole acres to ourselves! Mostly forested and partly mountainous: it's like being caretaker of your own tiny bit of forest. (And no diversions. A great place to sit and chat with the voices in your head.)

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