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Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Guggenheim Museum Throws a Party for America’s Architect

Frank Lloyd Wright Profile

Frank Lloyd Wright during the construction of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Photo: William H. Short. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Archives. New York, NY

Frank Lloyd Wright, often regarded in design circles as “America’s architect,” completed 532 projects including houses, skyscrapers, churches, and hotels, during his career. This week, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, one of the great institutions he envisioned, is throwing him a party of sorts. On June 8th the Wright-designed museum is marking what would have been his 150th birthday.

In honor of the occasion, the Guggenheim will reduce admission to just $1.50 for the day to encourage visitors to explore the only museum Wright worked on. Guests can drop by sessions about the design and construction of the Guggenheim, which will be led by a Wright impersonator, and score free cupcakes in honor of Wright’s birthday at the recently renovated Café 3. They can also see never-before-exhibited images of the Guggenheim Museum during construction, which will be on display inside the café.

The party won’t stop there. Throughout June, the museum will feature sketch workshops—Wright was known to out-sketch famous architects who were decades younger. Tours will also be offered, highlighting the space’s white, cylindrical, ribbon-like architecture, topped off with a striking glass ceiling. Initially, the spiraling construct shocked neighbors, conservative critics, and avant-garde artists before ultimately winning a place in the hearts of New Yorkers, tourists, and design aficionados.

The Guggenheim Museum, completed in 1956 after Wright’s death, is one of Manhattan’s iconic architectural feats and is registered as a National Historic Landmark. However, the legendary 20th-century architect and his Taliesin apprentices were also at home in Wisconsin and the Midwest. There, he devoted himself to developing organic-inspired, earth-colored, prairie-style structures that respected their natural surroundings. This organic-minded philosophy would be extended to his famous Fallingwater, a weekend retreat home built atop a waterfall in rural Pennsylvania. The iconic residence incorporated just two colors, light ochre for the concrete and Cherokee red for the steel.

Wright also went on to open his Taliesin West architecture school in the Arizona desert, where he continued to connect the interiors of homes to the vast landscapes that surround them. The influence of Wright, named “the greatest American architect of all time” by the American Institute of Architects, is seen today through modern interpretations including Hunter Douglas Hospitality’s Frank Lloyd Wright-printed shades at Hilton’s DoubleTree in Phoenix, Arizona.

The design of the shades (seen below) was taken from a leaded glass skylight window from Frank Lloyd Wright’s residence in Oak Park, Illinois. This project was a perfect mix of tradition and technology, using Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs to inspire a motorized, printed roller shade. The Hunter Douglas Hospitality design team collaborated directly with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the project specifier Dwellings, Inc.

DoubleTree by Hilton Phoenix-Tempe Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired shades

A guest room at the DoubleTree by Hilton Phoenix-Tempe which features Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired shades.
Photo Credits: Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

The team behind the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is dedicated to preserving his masterful contributions to American architecture, while also advancing Wright into the digital age for architects and designers to appreciate for years to come. To learn more, click here.

Here’s the lineup of events on June 8th at the Guggenheim Museum:

9 – 10 a.m.: InstaMeet Meetup: Guggenheim Museum, led by David Heald, Director of Photographic Services and Chief Photographer, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (Invite only).

10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.: Fifteen-minute drop-in sessions about the design and construction of the Guggenheim museum, led by Frank Lloyd Wright actor-historian in Cafe 3.

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Frank Lloyd Wright actor-historian greets museum visitors throughout the museum.

12 – 1 p.m.: Focused architectural tour of the museum led by Ashley Mendelsohn, curatorial assistant, Architecture and Digital Initiatives, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

1 p.m.: Candles, birthday cake, and happy birthday wishes in the rotunda.

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