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Architect Development

10 Qualities of the Builders of the Future, According to Frank Lloyd Wright


The eccentric architect developed an educational program based on qualities as artistic as they are spiritual.

Controversial architect and artist, Frank Lloyd Wright marked a turning point in the world of architecture. He combined new approaches and building materials with equally flexible and innovative ideas. After his beginnings as a contractor on public and private projects like the Midway Gardens in Chicago and the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, a drastic change in his way of working came about with the debacle of the Great Depression beginning in 1929. In 1932, already with a broken family, and a suicide attempt in his past, Frank Lloyd Wright put into motion an idea that would have been difficult to foresee: the setting up of a school.

Equal to his obsession with integrating landscapes with the “open” spaces inside his constructions, was the Taliesin Fellowship. The Wisconsin-based foundation proposed a new model for the training of architects and artists. It was one in which the technical aspects of construction were to be considered as well as the personal and even spiritual aspects of the students.

The entrance fee was not “spiritual” at all as the school was more expensive to attend than Yale or even Harvard. But the students’ tasks included not only the study of Wright’s architecture models, but also work in the fields cultivating crops, doing housekeeping, and presenting short plays for their eccentric teacher’s guests.

From this sui generis pedagogical program emerged the ten qualities which Wright pontificated were necessary not only for the building of buildings, but for entire societies (the list was rescued by OpenCulture). Consistent with his theory of organic architecture, and though not always practiced by the teacher himself, such indicators form both an ethic and an aesthetic for the desirable qualities in future builders, who through material are to (trans)form both space and society:

I. An honest ego in a healthy body – good correlation
II. Love of truth and nature
III. Sincerity and courage
IV. Ability for action
V. The esthetic sense
VI. Appreciation of work as idea and idea as work
VII. Fertility of imagination
VIII. Capacity for faith and rebellion
IX. Disregard for commonplace (inorganic) elegance
X. Instinctive cooperation

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