Image via guggenheim.org
Few buildings in New York City strike a more iconic silhouette than the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. A concrete spiral and one of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright‘s most notable creations, the museum sees just as many visitors seeking to appreciate its architecture as it does visitors coming for the art. Built in 1959, the story of its conception and construction married Wright’s avant-garde design instinct with Solomon R. Guggenheim’s taste for art that pushed boundaries. The building, which was renovated in full in 2005, is one of the most popular destinations in the city’s art scene even eighty years after its opening day. Here are the top 10 secrets we found about the place.
Wright’s towers surrounding St. Mark’s Church. Source: Architizer.
In 1927, architect Frank Lloyd Wright began plans for three to four all-glass apartment towers in the East Village at 11th Street and 2nd Avenue. The unprecedented buildings, which would have been the first all-glass ones in New York, were commissioned by the Reverend William Norman Guthrie of St. Mark’s Church. Though the modern structure would have towered over the revered church, rent from Wright’s apartments would have provided a much-needed influx of funds for the church. This wouldn’t have happened today though–in 1966 the church was landmarked and in 1984 the St. Mark’s Historic District was extended to include the row houses on 10th Street that would have been demolished with Wright’s plan. (more…)
Photo by Ezra Stroller (1955) via Metropolis Mag
In April of 2013, Frank Lloyd Wright’s auto showroom on 430 Park Avenue quietly disappeared and will soon be replaced by a TD Bank. The Hoffman Auto Showroom was home to the latest and greatest imported cars for nearly sixty years, but even more importantly, was one of the three remaining Wright design commissions in New York City (the other two being the Guggenheim Museum and Cass House on Staten Island).
“Never Built: Los Angeles,” an upcoming exhibit at the Architecture and Design Museum, will explore the “what if” of the city of LA through a compendium of spectacular projects—museums, parks, transportation, buildings and more—that never made it past the drawing board. The exhibit strives to tackle the question: “Why is Los Angeles a mecca for great architects, yet so lacking in urban innovation?” and will feature designs by innovators and architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright.
A freeway in the middle of the ocean, thousands of acres of interconnected parks, LAX under a glass dome, and Disneyland: Burbank. These are just a few of the projects that would have changed the landscape of Los Angeles, that is if they were ever built.
“Never Built: Los Angeles” is an exhibit opening at the Architecture and Design Museum of Los Angeles on July 27th. Using a collection of blueprints, maps, models, and plans, “Never Built” will explore what the past hoped for the future of Los Angeles. Due to a myriad of issues, including politics, bureaucracy, citizen unrest, and money, these grandiose plans never came to fruition. The exhibit tells the story of Los Angeles; a city of freedom, a city of imagination, and a city divided. By examining the well-worn roads (and abandoned housing projects) of the past, we can begin to answer the question of what does the future of Los Angeles hold.
The brainchild of co-curators Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin, both architecture writers and urban planning enthusiasts, “Never Built” was conceived with help by the Getty Center, Clive Wilkinson Architects, and a kickstarter campaign that raised over 43,000 dollars.
We sat down with Sam Lubell at a place that, thank the heavens, was built; Langer’s Deli in Los Angeles. We discussed the beginnings of “Never Built,” the most ambitious projects he’s come across, a Disney Marine Park in Long Beach, and the future of Los Angeles urban planning.
Nestled on the Upper East Side, the Guggenheim Museum attracts a worldwide audience in the name of iconic 20th century architecture, modern and contemporary art, and exceptional education programming. But because of its location on the UES, the museum is also a local landmark, drawing in New Yorkers from just across the street, to throughout the city. It is often viewed as a place inspiring wonder and creativity in both its youthful and more seasoned patrons.
The iconic structure prompted a great deal of contention throughout its design and build process. Initially, Wright had envisioned a spiral made of red marble, stating that red is the color of creation. Rebay countered Wright’s vision, arguing that the color red does not embody what the museum should be, and the color was dropped from further designs. Aside from artistic differences, Wright also encountered difficulties with the New York City Department of Buildings over his renderings. The discrepancies resulted in a public display of contention, and even reached a point where Wright had to appear in front of BSA, in defense of his design.
Ultimately, Wright’s vision became a reality through the manifestation of an ivory spiral in 1959, six months after his passing. The building design was considered polarizing, while some reveled at the spiral tilted walkway, others found the iconic spiral to be overshadowing to pieces housed in the museum. Nonetheless, the unique ability to see multiple floors of the museum at a time from any particular viewpoint allow for a visitor to take in the museum exhibition as a piece of art itself.
Although the Guggenheim is most well known for its shape and exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, its unique programming sets it apart from other distinguished structures. The Sackler Center within the museum features a studio art lab, multimedia lab, and computer lab, geared at engaging youth. The Guggenheim also has public programs including conversations with contemporary artists whose work is on exhibit. Courses are available, such as Classroom and Public and Artist Interactions with Karen Finley.
In addition to classroom opportunities, the Guggenheim also hosts free film screenings with the price of museum admission. Currently, the film featured is I am micro, a 15 minute independent film which combines documentary and visual poetry. On Sundays, families with children aged 3-10 are welcome to visit to engage in interactive art projects and take tours with hands on activities as taught by museum educators. Year round, the Guggenheim asks for high school volunteers to assist with family weekend programming.
Every year, 1.3 million people pass through the doors of the Guggenheim Museum. As you can imagine, having over a million people pass through the Frank Lloyd Wright doors has taken a toll. The Guggenheim is hoping to refurbish their front doors through the Partners in Preservation program. As New York City’s first-ever citywide grassroots preservation effort, the call-to-action program will enlist the aid of all New Yorkers, and anyone who loves New York, to vote online to allocate $3 million to the preservation projects most important to them. Because this is such a world renowned museum, we hope you will join us in the Guggenheim’s effort to restore their doors, in order to restore the wonder that so many have experienced as they enter this significant 20th century building.
Click here to vote for the Guggenheim Museum, and find out more about the Guggenheim on Twitter and Facebook. Follow Untapped Cities on Twitter and Facebook. Get in touch with the author @danielledowler
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