Florida/Caribbean Architect - Winter 2016 - (Page 12)

Driving Mr. Wright BY: KENNETH TREISTER, FAIA Ed. Note: This is a first-person account of a two-year story involving Frank Lloyd Wright, the University of Florida School of Architecture, several distinguished architects of the "Sarasota School," building codes, fundraising, the attempted involvement of students in building construction and ultimately, missed opportunities. The story began in the early 1950s in a small Southern college town. By that time, Wright had already established his legendary career, leaving an indelible mark on the history of architecture. In 1950, the University of Florida's School of Architecture & Allied Arts had a class of 20 students that included several who would become prominent Florida architects and educators. I had the good fortune to be in that class along with Bill Ruff, Tim Siebert and Earl Starnes, to name a few. Dean William T. Arnett, who had a rather curious prohibition 12 against inviting guest lecturers to speak to the students, directed the program. One night, a small group of students were discussing the aforementioned outside-speaker prohibition and other nonsensical University rules. The discussion led to a game of "what if" as in "what if we could invite any architect to come and lecture?" Who would it be? We all agreed it would be Frank Lloyd Wright, the greatest living architect of the day. That "what if" game resulted in a written invitation to Wright which, to the astonishment of all, was accepted. At that point, the impending visit was independent of any faculty involvement and therein lay the beginning of a series of roadblocks that were never resolved. It was also the beginning a big push by architecture students to sell tickets to Wright's October 23 lecture that was scheduled to take place in the University of Florida gymnasium. In addition, we had to print posters and pamphlets, arrange for Wright's lodging and raise money to pay his $1,000 speaking fee. In the end, 5,000 tickets were sold for $1.00 for adults and $.75 for students. Wright spoke to a sold-out house. Wright arrived, along with his wife, in a small twin-engine plane. When the gangway rolled out, the architect struck a pose in the doorway. He was immaculately dressed in a dark suit, flowing cape and beret. Holding his signature walking stick he descended to approach a group of faculty who had formed an honor guard of sorts at the foot of the stair. Looking neither left nor right, the architect passed the faculty leaving stunned open mouths in his wake. Inside the terminal, Wright greeted the students warmly, shaking hands and creating moments none of us would ever forget. www.aiafla.org http://www.aiafla.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Florida/Caribbean Architect - Winter 2016

President’s Perspective / Martin Diaz-Yabor, FAIA
Editorial / Diane D. Greer
Get to Know Your 2016 Board Officers
Driving Mr. Wright
Works-in-Progress
Stage Two: There are Many Voices in Space
The Verandah House
Sarasota MOD 15
Moore Park Community Center
Advertisers Index

Florida/Caribbean Architect - Winter 2016

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