Call for Papers: 2015 Conference, Wisconsin: Frank Lloyd Wright's Laboratory


Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy
Annual Conference
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Pfister Hotel
September 30 – October 4, 2015


Frank Lloyd Wright’s life story is intimately entwined with his home state. To Wisconsin he left a built legacy unmatched by any other area, spanning more than seven decades. He built houses there—both simple and elaborate, from the cozy Richards Bungalow in Milwaukee to his beloved Taliesin. His Usonian house concept and his House for a Family of $5,000-$6,000 Income highlighted in the September 26, 1938, LIFE magazine were first constructed in Wisconsin. He built several lakeside residences there. He built schools in Wisconsin, including the 1887 Hillside Home School and the 1956 Wyoming Valley Grammar School, not to mention his own school at Taliesin. He built religious buildings for both the Greek Orthodox and Unitarian faiths. He built commercial and industrial buildings for Albert Dell German and for the S.C. Johnson Company, and a tall building, one of only two he ever constructed. He built apartment buildings in Wisconsin—the Munkwitz (demolished in 1973) and Richards Duplex Apartments (restored) in Milwaukee, and experimented with the American System-Built Homes and the Erdman Prefabricated Homes projects. He worked out his cast concrete ornamental friezes on both the A.D. German Warehouse and the Bogk House.

And these are just some examples of the rich and varied assortment of designs he scattered around the state. Many more structures envisioned for the state remain only as dreams on paper.

This conference seeks to view Wright’s relationship with his home state through the lens of Wisconsin as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laboratory. The Conservancy seeks papers that focus on Wright’s experimental nature, particularly in regard to his home state. We are looking for papers that will help us understand the unique and unorthodox nature of Wright’s theory and architecture, or that reinterpret familiar landmarks in unfamiliar ways. Though premised on a “cause conservative,” Wright’s work was radical compared to mainstream tastes, and for a long time. Which of his architectural experiments failed, and why? In which periods of his life was he more open to experimentation?

Potential papers might address such Wisconsin-related topics as Wright’s American System-Built Homes, his designs for low-income housing, his interest in prefabrication or his apartment buildings. What do these projects say about Wright’s social vision? How did they compare to the efforts of architects with similar interests? Other topics might include the Johnson Wax company and Wright, his work in Racine, or his unexecuted projects for Wisconsin. What was Wright’s working relationship with George Mann Niedecken, the famous Milwaukee furniture designer? What was Wright’s relationship to Wisconsin politics?

The conference welcomes papers from individuals working in the areas of architectural, landscape, urban and cultural history, cultural geography, sociology, American Studies or anyone else who can contribute to a discourse about Wisconsin as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laboratory.

Proposals should present fresh material and/or interpretations. They should be submitted as an abstract of no more than one page, single-spaced, with the author’s name at the top. The text should concisely describe the focus and the scope of the presentation. The proposal should be accompanied by a one-page biography/curriculum vitae that includes the author’s full name, affiliation (if applicable), mailing address, email address, and telephone and fax numbers. Please also note anticipated audio-visual needs for your presentation (final PowerPoint presentations will be requested approximately one month before the conference).

Proposals must be received no later than March 1, 2015. Material sent electronically is preferred. Notification will be sent by March 23, 2015.

Please submit proposals and direct any questions to:
Dale Allen Gyure
College of Architecture and Design, Lawrence Tech University
21000 West Ten Mile Rd.
Southfield, MI 48075-1058

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