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Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Cultivated Enriched Heart

A great architect is not made by way of a brain nearly so much as he is made by way of a cultivated, enriched heart.
Frank Lloyd Wright

I have been a docent at Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House here in Los Angeles for a year now.   It's a great gig because I get to meet people from all over the globe.  I always ask the tour guests how far they've traveled just to find out who is from where.  The list of countries is long now but it is always a thrill to hear accents and chat about weather, air flights, food--you name it.   Oftentimes, I meet architects.  I love having them because there is the chance to learn more than I teach.

Say what you will about Frank and yes, I've read the books and know the details about his life nonetheless I am still blown away by his creative ideas.  This particular house displays the idea of compression and expansion in architecture. Compression and expansion, in addition to playing with space, creates drama. Built for Aline Barnsdall who was involved in theatre, drama no doubt had a particular appeal.

The front entryway narrows down to a cozy protective space.  It is designed to frame views of the city below.  For me, this functions like constantly changing paintings.

The two cast concrete front doors open to a foyer with a low ceiling.  They each weigh 250 lbs but open easily because they are on pivots.  Aline Barnsdall joked that she needed three boys and two men just to open her front door.  Or was it three men and two boys?  Either way, every time I open the doors and people step inside, I hear gasps of surprise at the beauty that presents itself.  Even after my year of dedication and love for this house, I have no photos of the interior because photography is forbidden.  I do, however,  have beautiful images in my mind's eye because I have walked these spaces so often.  It enriches my heart to walk these rooms.

            "The space within becomes the reality of the building." 
                                                Frank Lloyd Wright

There is so much more to tell about the house, about the architect and about the woman who hired him.  But I will leave that for another post.  I will leave you with  this: The fireplace alone is an astonishing work of art in and of itself that looks as fresh and intriguing today as it did 91 years ago when it was created.
                               Even the planters are beautiful!

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