Published: June 6, 2006
The National Building Museum will present a comprehensive exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the completion of Frank Lloyd Wright’s only skyscraper – the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Okla., of 1956. “Prairie Skyscraper: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower,” opening June 17, will examine the evolution of Wright’s concept of the modern office building, from the Larkin Building in Buffalo, N.Y., and the Johnson Wax Administration Building and Research Tower in Racine, Wis., to the Price Tower itself – which is hailed by architect Tadao Ando as “one of the most important buildings of the Twentieth Century.”
The Price Tower won the American Institute of Architect’s 25-Year award for its enduring architectural design, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The exhibition will be on view through September 17.
In its three-month stay in the museum’s second-floor galleries, the exhibition will feature approximately 108 drawings, models, photographs, documents, building components (such as exterior copper panels and louvers) and furnishings. The latter objects – desks, chairs, tables and textiles designed for the Price Tower by Frank Lloyd Wright – keep with Wright’s conception of the building as an integrated work of art. This traveling exhibition comes to the museum from the collection of Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville and from the archives of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Originally conceived as a residential tower in lower Manhattan, the concept for the 19-story, 37,000-square-foot Price Tower was further developed in the 1930s as a component of Broadacre City. It was finally constructed as a multiuse, high-rise tower that would serve as the corporate headquarters for H.C. Price Company, incorporating office, retail and residential space. The iconic building was designed to resemble a tree in form and function, with branchlike, cantilevered floors that “broke the box” of conventional construction.
“Prairie Skyscraper” will showcase Wright’s ideal of integrating office, commercial and residential space within a single structure and reflect the unconventional approach to design that makes him America’s preeminent architect. The exhibition will also highlight this take on America’s quintessential building type – the skyscraper – and the imaginatively designed, detailed and furnished environment created by Wright for his last masterpiece of urban architecture.
The exhibition installation has been designed by Zaha Hadid and Office of Zaha Hadid, London, and co-produced by Price Tower Arts Center and Yale University Art + Architecture Gallery. “Prairie Skyscraper” was curated by Anthony Alofsin, a scholar of Frank Lloyd Wright and professor of architecture at the University of Texas. Assisting him was former Price Tower Arts Center curator Monica Ramirez-Montagut, now assistant curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and Richard P. Townsend, executive director and CEO of Price Tower Arts Center.
Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated catalog featuring 150 color illustrations plus major essays.
To complement “Prairie Skyscraper,” the museum will offer a host of educational programs. On Saturday, June 17, from 10 am to 4:30 pm, the museum will hold a “A Towering Challenge,” during which visitors can watch the construction of a giant KEVA block tower and see if this year’s creation will beat the record (51 feet) set at the museum in 2003, as confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records.
On Monday, June 19, from 6:30 to 8 pm, Anthony Alofsin will discuss Wright’s only skyscraper in a lecture, “Pinwheel on the Prairie: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower.” Admission is $10 for museum members and students; $15 for nonmembers. Prepaid registration is required; register online at www.nbm.org or call 202-272-2448.
The museum will offer evening lectures by exhibition curators, historians and other authorities on Frank Lloyd Wright; and a variety of drop-in films exploring the connection between Wright and his work.
The museum is at 401 F Street NW. Admission is free. For information, 202-272-2448 or www.nbm.org.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm