Renascent architecture: Demolished Frank Lloyd Wright structures get new life

The Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative is set to begin its reconstruction efforts with the Banff Pavilion, which was demolished in 1939.

August 09, 2016 |

Images courtesy Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative

Frank Lloyd Wright has become a figure that exists in the same realm as individuals such as Michael Jordan, Stephen King, and Pablo Picasso. Even if you aren’t a fan of basketball, haven’t read a book since grade school, or can’t tell an original Picasso from an original two-year-old’s finger painting, those three names still carry some weight; they have become synonymous with the fields in which they exist. Arguably the most famous architect to have ever lived, Frank Lloyd Wright certainly fits into this same category.

Wright once described architecture as “The mother art,” saying “without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.” Wright wasn’t just waxing poetic, he didn’t just talk the talk, he backed it up with his actions, playing a large part in the creation of a style of architecture that was uniquely American; creating a soul for his civilization.

Of the over 1,000 structures he designed, 532 were actually completed, stippled around the country like dimples on a golf ball. And while many still remain in pristine condition, exemplifying the horizontal lines, cantilevers, and oneness with nature so essential to the Prairie School architectural movement, some of the 532 structures have since been demolished.

One such project is the Banff Pavilion, which was constructed in 1914 and marked the last of only two Wright designs built in Canada. In 1939, however, due to its location on a floodplain without mitigation measures, the integrity of the structure became compromised and the pavilion was torn down.

 

 

But the story doesn’t end there. Thanks to the Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative (FLWRI), and its mandate to preserve Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy through the reconstruction/construction of various Wright structures, the Banff Pavilion is one step closer to becoming an actual structure, and not just the memory of one, once again. The Banff Town Council has set forth in conducting a feasibility study for the project, a project that the Council supports fully and has expressed a desire to work into its already-approved development plans for the land where The Pavilion originally stood.

With six out of seven council members voting in favor of the rebuild, the project should have no difficulty moving forward, as long as the FLWRI manages to fulfill the Town’s remaining requirements, such as securing enough funding. Michael Miner, the Founder of the FLWRI, doesn’t see this step as much of a problem as Wright still has a strong community of admirers and supporters who he believes will lend support to the project.

As for the Pavilion itself, its simple nature and textbook Prairie School design elements made it perfect for the Initiative’s inaugural project. Additionally, many see this as an opportunity to correct a historical wrong, suggesting the building could have been saved back in 1939, but due to a lack of appreciation for its value, it was easier to tear down.

The Pilgrim Congregational Church in Redding, Calif. was the other project under consideration as the pilot project, but, ultimately, priority has been given to the Pavilion.

The candidates to be rebuilt, such as the Banff Pavilion or the Pilgrim Congregational Church, are all based on the building’s utility, location, structural complexity, and how clearly the exemplify Frank Lloyd Wright’s design ethos.

 

 

You can read more about the FLWRI on its website.

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