Feb. 8 Deadline for 2016 Conference Papers Proposals: Wright's Late Years, 1946-59

Even as he was engaged in projects of unprecedented magnitude and complexity Frank Lloyd Wright’s practice experienced myriad challenges. During the 1930s he had re-entered the international limelight with works of extraordinary originality and daring—aesthetically and technically. During the post-World War II period, however, his output began to be overshadowed by that of a slightly younger generation, especially Mies van der Rohe, and, at the decade’s close, also by a galaxy of young architects who entered the field when Wright was in his 70s or 80s.

The U.S. had emerged as the world leader in Modern architecture, unmatched in its programmatic and technical innovations and in the diversity of its expression. Wright was the acknowledged founder of this sweeping movement, but the relevancy of current work was increasingly called into question. That he practiced in rural isolation and with a staff of acolytes under communal circumstances furthered critical skepticism.

Recent scholarship has shown the late 1940s and 1950s to be a period of ongoing creativity for Wright—not just for work long in gestation, such as Price Tower (1952-56) and the Guggenheim Museum (1943, 1956-59), but also for new projects, including Beth Sholom Synagogue (1955-59) and the Marin County Civic Center (1957, 1960-69). His propensity for experimentation with new, alternative forms of urbanism was exemplified by such unrealized projects as the Civic Center in Pittsburgh (1947-48) and the Plan for Greater Baghdad (1957-58). During the postwar years, too, Wright designed a stunning array of residences, including those for Albert Adelman, Sol Friedman (both 1948), Gladys and David Wright (1950), Harold Price (Bartlesville, 1953; Paradise Valley, 1954), Gerald Tonkens (1954) and Maximilian Hoffman (1955).

The Conservancy invites proposals for papers and for panelist participation addressing topics related to this culminating period of Wright’s long career. Proposals may focus on individual projects (realized or unrealized); related groupings of projects; analysis of projects in a larger design/urban context; thematic subjects, including use of materials, structural innovation, furniture and furnishings, landscape design, siting and manipulation of light; key figures working at Taliesin and Taliesin West; and methods of publicity and promotion, including television appearances, radio interviews and press coverage. Other topics related to Wright’s postwar career also are welcome.
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 placed 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: author’s full name, affiliation (if applicable), mailing address, email address, and telephone and fax numbers. Please also note audio/visual needs.

Proposals must be received no later than February 8, 2016. Notification will be sent by March 7, 2016. The conference runs Nov. 2-6, 2016, at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District.

Please submit proposals and any inquiries electronically to:

Richard Longstreth
Speakers Committee Chair
(Department of American Studies, George Washington University)

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