not the result of the building’s architect being remiss, but was due to the contractor’s having filled the core of the stout concrete piers with broken brick and rubble. Wright’s buildings are all as sturdy as bedrock. Chicago, the “Eternal City” Wright lasted two semesters at the university, according to school records, not the three-and-a- half years he claimed in his autobiography, a small example among many of the architect’s rewriting of his early years to fit the legend. After hocking his father’s calf-bound copy of Plutarch’s Lives, a set of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and a mink collar that belonged to his mother, he set out on a train for Chicago—or as Wright called it, the “Eternal City of the West”— with seven dollars in his pocket. He arrived on a drizzling spring evening in 1887 and for the first time saw electric lights. After tramping the streets unsuccessfully for four days, Wright arrived at the office of Joseph Lyman Silsbee, a fashionable architect who was building a church for Wright’s uncle, Jenkin Lloyd Jones. Jones, a Unitarian minis- ter and champion of liberal causes, knew many great progressive figures of his age, including Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony, and Booker T. Washington. Although his uncle had forbidden Wright to quit his studies, Jones’s social connections in Chicago provided a great opportunity for an up-and-coming architect. Silsbee offered young Frank his first real job in an architect’s office, for the princely sum of eight dollars a week.

Fallingwater Mill Run, Pennsylvania, 1937

Fallingwater is a profound expression of its site, with stone piers that seem to rise naturally from the surroundings, and concrete trays that mirror the ledges of the waterfall. At the same time, it is an exquisite abstract expression of a dynamic flow of space in the multiform relationships between the verticals and horizontals.


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