Sunday, October 24, 2004


A mausoleum newly built in Buffalo's Forest Lawn Cemetery, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Buffalo News reported the other day on the construction of this mausoleum, designed by Wright in 1928 for Darwin Martin (owner of Buffalo's FLW-designed Darwin Martin House). Buffalo is working hard these days to embrace its architectural heritage, to the point where two FLW-designed projects that were never built -- a boathouse and a filling station -- are currently under construction themselves.

Along the same lines, Sean recently e-mailed me a link to a Metafilter post that I somehow missed, an article about what is most likely Buffalo's most infamous architectural decision: the demolition of the FLW-designed Larkin Administration Building (image of Larkin Building here). Personally, I think the Larkin Building looks rather like what I might expect, say, a Very Important Building in Berlin in 1936 to resemble. I mean, looking at that building, I expect to see the Hindenberg rising from behind it and Indiana Jones to come out the front door, his father's Grail Diary in hand. But anyway, even if the building was demolished stupidly many years ago, well -- don't FLW's plans and drawings and schematics still exist somewhere? Why can't the thing be built again, as it was? (Of course, I'd assume that such a project would involve very hefty expenditure of money just to get rights to FLW's intellectual property -- but there's an interesting question in itself. Are an architect's designs subject to copyright, patent, or any other type of intellectual property protection?)

I've read suggestions in recent months that FLW wasn't an architect who designed usable buildings, but rather sculpture in building form -- his most famous building, for example, the Falling Water House, is said to be virtually unlivable with too-low ceilings and other problems resulting from the presence of a waterfall in the house's foundation. (I'm parroting this all from hazy memory and may have seriously mis-stated things, and thus am open to correction. Maybe David Sucher could weigh in?) I grant that this all may be possible, but I also have to admit that as a proud Buffalonian, I have something of an investment in FLW as "genius". If he's seen as a genius, and Buffalo gets known as a place where people can go to see some FLW buildings, then it's good for Buffalo. I know this isn't the most intellectually honest stance in the world, but there's a time for being rational and a time for being a rabid booster of all things Buffalo. And I always err on the side of Buffalo!

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