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What Happens When Architects Die?

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A couple of recent posts have raised the subject of Death And The Architect. First was Futurist Endings with its list of the (much delayed) deaths of members of the Futurist movement. And yesterday’s post, “Fill’erup with Specialness!” suggested that Mies van der Rohe’s ESSO gas station in Montreal may have been the last building of his he saw completed.

The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church may have been the last building of his that Frank Lloyd Wright saw completed, but the New York Guggenheim Museum is also a strong candidate. As you can see from the photo below, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church dates from Frankie’s Gattaca Period.

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Frank Lloyd Wright, 1959
Marin County Civic Center, opened 1962

This post is about what happened next – what about the ones they never saw? The ones they posthumously influenced the design of? If you want to think more deeply about it, this post asks if creativity is something that can be transmitted or taught? Is it possible to absorb creativity just by looking over the shoulder of somebody who supposedly has it? 

Or is creativity a myth? Is creativity just people copying themselves and then other people copying other people, making it up as they go along? You be the judge. If you conclude that that being in the same place at the same time does not guarantee the transmission of creativity, then the CVs of those next generations of architects must be called into question. 

I’ll use Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural legacy as an example. To be fair, Wright had nothing to do with this first example – not directly, at least. There is a story behind the Golden Rondelle Theatre completed 1966[?] by Taliesin Associated Architects. It’s located, on axis, just north of the Johnson Wax Tower. Click on this.

Photo: Wolfgang Bauer
Golden Rondelle Theatre1966 (?)

Taliesin Associated Architects kept the dream alive until 2003. This is their Beaver Meadows Visitor Centre, completed 1967.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Beaver Meadows Visitor Centre, 1967.

This man is William Wesley Peters.

William Wesley Peters (1912-1991)

After Wright’s death, he became chief architect of Taliesin Architects, designing over 120 buildings worldwide, many of them for prominent clients and with complex programs. In his most characteristic work, Mr. Peters bridges between structure and ornament with bold invention and surprising sculptural forms. He interprets Wright’s principles of architecture, but also interprets the spirit of his own time. (text from here

This site has photographs of some of the other 120 buildings either completed, adapted or designed by Taliesin Associated Architects.