Day 61/365 of Steel – Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright (b. 8 june 1867)

It is simply impossible to describe in a short post the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright on modernism and architecture in the USA and far beyond. I recommend anyone who wants to know more about the Prairie Houses of this genius architect the ultimate reference book by Alan Weintraub and Alan Hess : Frank Lloyd Wright – The Houses. In 1927, Wright wrote an essay on steel, as part of a larger publication: In the cause of Architecture. The text is too long for this post, but I couldn’t resist to share some of it with you.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater
Fig 1: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater
Courtesy: The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

“Steel is THE epic of this age.
Steel has entered our lives as a “material” to take upon itself the physical burden of our civilization. This is the Age of Steel. And our “culture” has received it as ancient Roman culture received the great gift of the masonry arch. For centuries the Romans pasted the trabeated Greek forms of their “culture” on the arch in front as architecture, while the arch did the work behind.

Steel is still smothered in aesthetic gloom, insulted, denied and doomed by us as was the masonry arch by the Romans. Inherent virtue will triumph here, too, in course of time. So much wasted time!

This stupendous material – what has it not done for Man?
What may it not yet do for him with its derivatives and associates as the glare of the converters continues to mount into the sky, day and night. Now, ductile, tensile, dense to any degree, uniform and calculable to any standard, steel is a known quantity to be dealt with mathematically to a certainty to the last pound; a miracle of strength to be counted upon!

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater
Fig 2: A View In Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater
Photo: Daderot

Mathematics in the flesh – at work for man!
A mere plastic material, thin and yet an ultimately rigidity, rolled hot or rolled cold to any desired section of any strength unlimited in quantity. Drawn into thin strands of enormous strength and length as wire – enough to wind the world into a steel covered ball; or, rolled in any thickness into sheets like paper, cut by the shears into any size.

A rigidity condensed in any shape conceivable, to be as easily bored, punched, planed, cut, and polished, too, as wood once was. More easily and cheaply curved or bent or twisted or woven to any extent and the parts fastened together. Used honestly by engineers, steel has something of the beauty of mathematics. The principles of construction which find in steel a medium that will serve with safety economically in various designs as support for enormous loads to enormous height, are, as long as they are really kept scientific and clean, showing as such, the best work we have to show.”

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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