Typewritten letter Signed, in pencil, one page, Taliesin, July 26, 1957. On his Taliesin letterhead with his modernist device, measuring 11 inches wide by 8 inches high. With pencil emendations. To Desmond Smith in Stamford, Connecticut.
“Major Jenney built the first “tall” building: The Home Insurance Building Chicago with cast iron – the columns super-imposed. The Rookery (across the street) was built much later with the Nineteenth Century bridge engineer’s steel post and girder construction.
“This Nineteenth Century mode of structure still persists in the work of all the so-called skyscraper architects. At first filled-in panels of masonry for walls – now the walls are filled in with panels of glass. The essential idea of framing a box, building from the outside in remains 19th century.
“Twentieth Century architecture is organic from inside outward: the steel strand in tension embedded in concrete for compression. This ferro-concrete system is the true new building of the 20th century.”
William LeBaron Jenny, referred to in this letter, was a Civil War engineer turned architect, who dramatically changed Chicago’s cityscape and the idea of the modern metropolis. He was the first architect to use steel beams for support, an innovation that allowed him, as Wright points out, to construct the world’s first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building in Chicago. Jenney also developed the first railroad suburb, Riverside, Illinois, and designed Chicago’s network of boulevards. His office was a training ground for American architects including Louis H. Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright’s mentor. “…[T]he line from Jenney to Wright is direct, and it is likely that Wright learned something about the proper distribution of weight on an unstable surface from this Chicago experience” (Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography, Secrest). Wright’s determination to create a mid-western “look” led to the development of his “Prairie School” style of architecture and the lobby of the Rookery, referred to in this letter, was remodeled by Wright in 1905 using this characteristic esign. Frank Lloyd Wright also radically changed the appearance of residential buildings; structures that were built according to a unique and expansive design. In Chicago and its suburbs, Wright created over 100 homes including his own Oak Park house and studio.
Framed in matte black wood with rust and cream mats with a portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright seated, dimensions measure 22 1/2 inches wide by 15 inches high.
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