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May 03, 1959 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1959-05-03
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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. _ ' 'r r- _

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Wj

Architectural
Genius

Give

'Em

What

They

Satisfying Popular Tastes Hinders Ann Arbor B
fly AL PHILLIPS

Frank Lloyd Wright
by JAN RAJIM

R OVER 70 years Frank Lloyd
Wright designed buildings of
all kinds as he believed they should
be built, and for over 70 years
Wright was a center of contro-
versy.
In 1887, when he began his de-
signing work, contemporary build-
ings were cluttered with "ginger-
bread" decorations and houses
were large boxes with smaller
boxes set inside to serve as rooms.
The young architect rebelled
against the tradition-bound archi-
tecture of the period and the re-
turn to pseudo-classic styles which
became the vogue after the World's
Fair in 1893.
Your figure Is your
fortune...in FORTUNA.
The marvel of "magic
length" shirring and
elasticized bengaline
capitalize on every
curve, 10-16 17.95

Wright conceived a new type of
architecture, something which he1
called "organic," and defined it as
one in which entity is the ideal,
with the nature of the materials
and the nature of the purpose
coming clear and true to them-
selves. It belongs to the site for
which it was designed. A Wright
house designed for the Arizona
desert could never be transplanted
to the shore of Lake Michigan, for
the house in the desert belongs to
the desert and becomes an integral
part of its surroundings.
THE WORD "nature" was used
by Wright often in his expla-
nations and descriptions of his
architecture. As he told a group
of University students here two
years ago, "the only way to great
architecture is through nature. I
don't mean trees and animals and
flowers-I mean the study of the
way things are made by nature;
the way you are made, and from
the ground up.'
An important part of Wright's
architecture is the way in which
he used materials. He believed that
each material had a nature of its,
own and that appropriate designs
for one material would not be ap-
propriate for another material.
In addition to using materials in
accordance with their nature,
Wright believed that the various
materials should look like what
they really are. Thus wood panel-
ing was stained, not painted, and
cement blocks and concrete were
Jan Rahm, a long-time ad..
mirer of Wright and his work,
has read many books by and
about him.

colored a neutral, natural-looking
buff or gray, not gaudy rainbow
shades. Wallpaper was banished
as something altogether unnatural.
WRIGHT'S buildings have a
great deal of ornamentation,
with most of it within the frame-
work of the buildings.
For a building to be truly suc-
cessful, Wright insisted that he be
allowed to design the furnishings
and to decide what paintings and
other ornamental objects, should
be used. The custom-designed fur-
nishings thus help give unity to
the structure.
From the beginning. Wright cut
out the excesses in a building.
These include, basements, attics,
cornices and interior walls which
serve only to box in, a room. He cut
off the gables and pillars of the
Queen Anne houses being designed
at the turn of the century and
created the "prairie houses" with
long, horizontal lines which hugged
the ground, and made more livable
by the fluid movement of space be-
tween rooms no longer boxed in.
WRIGHT was the first to use
poured concrete in the mono-
lithic Unity Temple in Chicago.
He was also the first to use con-
crete blocks with °a design worked
into them.
His Imperial Hotel in Tokyo
was built with a non-rigid struc-
ture which was capable of shifting
with the movement of the earth.
During the disasterous earthquake
of 1923, the hotel was the only
large structure which withstood
the shock, proving that his un-
orthodox ideas for the building
were not just so much nonsense.
The'design for the Imperial Ho-
tel was not the only one which
was attacked as being structurally
unsound. Wright almost completed
the work for a degree in civil en-
gineering and he constantly exper-
imented with new techniques..
When he designed the Johnson's
Wax building using mushrooming
tree -like supporting columns,.
building authorities considered
them unsafe. Wright proved their
practicability by setting up one of
the columns in a field and heap-
ing sand on top of it with a steam
shovel. Even he was surprised when
60 tons of pressure failed to crack
the column. The building inspec-

ANN ARBOR theatre as it now
stands is exactly what the
people want.
Let us name the suitors.
Number one: the Drama Season.
Is placed in the number one spot
because it is about to start again.
What is Drama Season? With-
out having read a charter, I would
say from mere observation that it
is five weeks of spring stock, di-
rected, managed, designed, and
acted by professional t h e a t r e
people. Professional theatre people.
This seems to upset some simple
folk who say that the Drama Sea-
son is nothing but a series of in-
ane comedies and "popular" hits
of no visible merit.
The first thing wrong with this
is that it is not true. Comedy, cer-
tainly, and inane ones too. That
is only one aspect of a pro-
ject which endeavors to cater to

The Drama Season, as it stands,
.s a iuneiy aianced. p'uogram wicn
amaZmngiy gooci taient. .! it were
kinown Llow narct i is to line up
.ceaniy good acors, even in Iairiy
pig money tneatres, te respect,
ior tne oo tnese people do wouia
increase greaty.
It is a processional season, and
as sucn commerciai. 't'rue, a lemon
appears every once in a while. The
shows have a week to be designed,
rehearsed, and a week of presen-
tation. The law of averages says
that you cannot luck out com-
pletely on that schedule. But a
clinker every once in a while is a
very minor thing to the generally
high level the Drama Season
manages to achieve,
PLAY PRODUCTION of the Uni-
versity's Department of Speech
is in the number two spot, mainly
because it has just finished its
season. Play production's aims are
printed on the inside of every
playbill. There you will find a
paragraph - that says something
about variety, all kinds of plays,
and .so on. Whether or not these
aims are followed is another mat-
ter, but variety is the chief factor
in a University playbill along with
teaching students something about
theatre on as many levels as is
possible, which leads by indirec-
tion to two major points.
They are rather conservative
over there, I've heard people say.
Well, they're rather conservative
because that's what people want.
My first season here, the players
put on "The Good Woman of Set-
zuan" by Berthold Brecht, which
is definitely an experimental play,
and it drew fewer people than the
student original which is tradi-
tionally the season's lowest draw.
I don't know if it was a good
production even though I saw it,
because I don't know that much
about Brecht, but I doknow that
the next summer we put on a pro-
duction of "The Lady's Not For
Burning" that was a reeker, and
drew on it anyway, because the
play was popular.

This Wright-designed house is the home of Prof. William Palmer
of the economics department. It is located on a hill in the south-
east section of Ann Arbor and has the privacy from neighbors
which Wright demanded of a site. The house is unique in that it
does not have any right angles.

The speech department's productions, which are generally good, must dray
theatre-teaching purpose. Picture ,show a scene from "The Matchmaker"

tors allowed the design to go
through.
This was not the case, however,;
with the still unfinished Guggen-
heim Museum in New York. The
design for the circular structure
with. a continuous spiraling ramp
was slightly modified to conform
with the city building codes.
OBJECTORS to Wright's work
have been legion, and their
reasons for disapproval have been
many and varied.
Those in favor of conventional
styles of architecture found "him
impossible. Equally vociferous
against him were modern archi-
tects, who have worked with the
"steel cage" idea and with abun-
dant use of glass in almost every-
thing. These architects have cri-
ticized Wright for the exuberance
of his ornamentation, while they
have prefered to use stark, severe
lines in their buildings.
ONE OF THE most unusual com-
plaints about a Wright design
came from artists whose work will
be exhibited in the new Guggen-
heim Museum. They claimed that
the sloping walls against which
the pictures would be hung would
not give the proper "rectilinear
frame of reference."
Wright scoffed at this idea and
retorted that viewers in the Mu-

New Reading
for
SPRING
The Ugly American
-Lederer & Burdick
Unarmed in Paradise -
-Ellen Marsh
The Optimist
- Herbert Gold
Collision Course
-Alvin Moscow
The Status Seekers
-Vance Packard
The Affluent Society
-John Galbraith
Passionella and Other
Stories - Jules Feiffer
(author of Sick, Sick, Sick)
SLATER'S
Your College Bookstore

seum would actually see the pic-
tures as the artist do when they
step back to look while still work-
ing at their easels.
But much of the criticism of
Wright did not come simply as a
result of his work.
Wright was an individualist and
a non-conformist in an era noted
for its cooperative efforts in al-
most all fields, including architec-
ture. He did not believe in collec-
tive work and he condemned
competitions to be decided by a
committee, because he felt the
committee threw out the very best
and the very worst designs and
picked the mediocre.
Many consider Wright the
greatest modern architect. He
did not have such a low opinion
of himself. He felt that he had
realized the goal he set for him-
self early in his career: "Not only
do I intend to be 'the greatest ar-
chitect who has ever lived, but
the greatest who will ever live."
WRIGHT often claimed that he
had brought the house down
to fit the scale of a human being--
that is five feet, eight and one-
half inches tall, which just hap-
pened to be his own height.
He frequently used low ceilings
in' passageways so as to emphasize
a high ceiling in a main room of a
building. When a six foot four
inch- tall man once exploded at
this practice, asking why the halls
were not in proportion so that he
would not bump his head on the
ceiling, Wright retorted by asking,
"Have you ever stopped to think
that you may be out of propor-
tion?",
4
PROPONENTS of Wright claimed
his haughty obstinance was
necessary to fulfill his goal of
bringing forth a new type, of ar-
chitecture.
That architecture has been
deeply affected by Wright's work
is something that cannot be
denied.
A partial list of his contribu-
tions include the split-level living
room, the corner picture window,
radient floor heating and the car-
port, which are common features
of today's buildings, even in mass-
built housing developments.
Just how lasting. Wright's phi-
losophy of architecture will be is
something that only time can tell.
It may be that his basic ideas of
an organic architecture will live
longer than his specific designs.

"THE TINKER'S WEDDING"
. Speech Department
every taste, and sad or glad as it
may seem, depending, the demand
for comedies starring Don Ameche
is as great, if not greater than the
demand for the average drama.
BUT LOOK at the record over
the past few years: Fry, Miller,
Shraw, McCullers, and this year,
Beckett and Shakespeare. Hardly
hollow dramatists, no matter the
personal opinion.
Al Phillips, a speech major
at the University has appeared
in Ann Arbor Civic Theatre.
and department of speech pro-
ductions.

there is no audience to give its
approval and to try things on?
The audience in a situation always
determines the type of plays that
are given. And the Speech Depart-
ment bills are good.
The campus audience is not pri-
marily an audience with a metro-
politan background; therefore, the
interest in classics is high, be-
cause for many people the oppor-
tunity to see classics simply isn't
there.
So an audience is created, and
from a production standpoint,
what can be learned from a classic
show is invaluable. This year the
bill ran from Wilder (and a fine
show that was too) to Ben Jonson
(for which I'll always be grateful)
to Sophocles. The bill this summer
looks gorgeous. The productions
so far have been good and the
summer shows are almost always
good.
A CIVIC THEATRE is a chance
for a group of people with the
same interests to get together
and put on a show.
Always the activities of the
group are primary. The organiza-

tion is carefully broken down into
committees, and it is the job of
these committees to come up with
something pleasing to all the
members of the organization. Thus
the results of the organization are
subservient to the organization it-
self. This is true, whether the
group under discussion is a garden
club or a little theatre.
It is this attitude that makes
the productions of little theatres
take on the air of charades. No
civic theatre, not even the ones
with magnificently specialized fa-
cilities, such as Kalamazoo, can
escape the feeling of performing
for one's friends.
N OW, the local Civil Theatre
has in the last few years done
some fine things. "Tea and Sym-
pathy" and "Bus Stop" leap im-
mediately to mind. The problems
of the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre
are more than usually difficult
because of the competition of the
University group, and until re-
cently, from the Dramatic Arts
Center.
One thing I feel harms Civic

IF A PLAY is popular, and that
can be put in quotes or not,
people will come no matter what
the production. They simply were
not interested in Brecht-which
leads to another consideration.
How can you learn theatre if

Theat
they
The
audier
but 't
throw
I feel
The
this .
group
must
tended
times,
ductic
how i
know.
izatio
lem o
peopl
experi
rather
Now
loc.
questi
Arbor
in the
tal re
sons
Firs

I

i

HAVE YOU VISI

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A

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