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“When I run dry…

Marin Civic Center, architect Frank Lloyd Wright 

…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.

Thanks again!

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®.

1 Comment to ““When I run dry…”

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Hi Bill,

Greetings from Madison! I thought I’d provide a little clarification on the FLW civic center you mentioned.
Madison did indeed build a facility inspired by Wright’s design and in the location he envisioned, after some 60 years of debate. Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center opened in 1997 and recently celebrated 10 years of activity. As I understand it, the exterior is Wright’s design, while the interior was designed by a Taliesen-trained architect to function as a convention center. The facility is pretty busy hosting conventions, meetings, banquets and other civic gatherings year-round. It also hosts a regular series of free lectures related to Wright’s work.
Overture Center for the Arts, the Pelli-designed building you mentioned, is another story. Completed in 2006, Overture Center fills the entire 200 block of Madison’s iconic State Street with world-class venues for the visual and performing arts, including the inspiring Overture Hall and the stunning Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Overture replaced the former Madison Civic Center which had operated for about 20 years in the middle of the 200 block as a civic presenter of the visual and performing arts. Overture Center is the result of an extraordinary $205 million gift by a local philanthropist, W. Jerome Frautschi, who insisted the facility not bear his name. It’s a remarkable story.
Both facilities offer regularly scheduled guided tours, and often capture the imagination of visiting photographers, as you can see on flickr:
Overture images and Monona Terrace images.

As you might have guessed, I work for Overture Center and have colleagues at Monona Terrace … come visit us, and bring your camera!


jenntyler said this on November 17th, 2007 at 12:24 pm

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