Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Review - Chicago Frame: Colin Rowe

Colin Rowe attempts to answer the question of Frank Lloyd Wright’s unwillingness to use a structural frame.

Despite the proliferation of steel frame construction in Chicago, Wright distinctly rejected its use.

Instead, Wrightian architecture arose from an ‘organic’ demand for the integration of space and structure; and as fulfilling this demand, the building becomes a single, complete, and self-explanatory utterance.

The Chicago frame resulted from economics and the need for a product for sale; conditions imposed by the real estate speculator.

The cast iron steel frame that can accommodate many floors and square footage is attractive to fiscally conservative minds and acceptable to architects operating within a culture of uninhibited business.

The frame is a solution to a problem; equipment. Despite the International Style’s ability to impart iconographic and social importance on the frame, the Chicago school had no part in such activities.

Wright did not use a structural frame because of his unique relationship to it. “He was too close to it to be able to invest it with the iconographic content which it later came to possess; too close to the Loop to feel other than its abrasiveness and constriction; and too undetached from Chicago to see the city as the idea which it so nearly is and which the reforming mind of the 1920’s might have wished it to become.”

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