…I stop awhile and think of you.” I was running a little dry tonight, and the words of the Simon and Garfunkel song, “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” came to mind. I have admired the work of Frank Lloyd Wright for a long time, from the homes in Chicago suburbs, to the Usonian homes in Wisconsin, to the Guggenheim Museum, to the Unitarian Meeting House at the edge of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, where I attended Graduate School, to what is now called the “Riverview Terrace Cafe” but was known as “The Spring Green” restaurant when we were there – a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed cafe that is now part of the visitor center, overlooking the Wisconsin River, near Taliesin and Spring Green.
I also lived through the arguments against building Wright’s design for the Madison Wisconsin Civic Center, which would have jutted over Lake Monona at Law Park and was stalled for 50 years by folks with objections to Wright’s lifestyle. After the delay, folks argued that it was too expensive to build. A little archeology online tonight reveals that Madison has constructed The Overture Center, designed by Cesar Pelli. [Update and correction on 11/18/2007: Please see the Comment and links by Jennifer Tyler of the Overture Center in Madison, and my PostScript below. Madison now has BOTH an Overture Center for the arts and a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired (his design was followed for the exterior) Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, and I, for one, could not be happier!]
Since I am now in northern California I had to photograph the Marin Civic Center, architected by Wright and located in San Rafael (pronounced San Ra Fell’ by locals, in stark contrast to the way the artist Rafael is pronounced) .
The Marin Civic Center was built in 1957. The Civic Center is huge, and I felt like the 10 blind men describing an elephant – with a wide-angle lens, I could only take in a piece at a time on that Sunday.
An little surprise was the Marin County Jail next door. Documentation on the Marin County pages says that concept and site for the jail was suggested by Aaron Green to complement Wright’s original buildings’ design. The jail is embedded into the hillside at the end of the Hall of Justice wing, which makes it possible to transport prisoners into the court through a tunnel.
-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo
11/18/2007P.S. – I approved the comment and correction from Jennifer Tyler of the Overture Center in Madison WI, in response to this blog entry. First off, I have to say that I am DELIGHTED that Frank Lloyd Wright’s design for a Civic Auditorium was finally (Jennifer says after 60 years of debate) approved and constructed in 1997 as Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. I am also delighted that someone is reading this blog. Although I had heard rumors that Frank Lloyd Wright’s design had finally been implemented in Madison, I was confused by a web page for the Civic Center pointing me to the Overture Center on the night that I wrote the blog entry above. Since what I retrieved was related to the way that I searched, I did not see a reference to the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.
Madison is a wonderful community, and we enjoyed our time there. It is indeed fitting that Madison have two (Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center and the Overture Center) cultural centers in the downtown.Thank you, Jennifer, for the comment, correction, and clarification (and for reading this blog)! I will certainly take my camera with me the next time I visit Madison. I look forward to seeing all of the changes.
-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™
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