It’s so Wright!

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Darwin D. Martin House Complex then & now.

So I am checking one more entry on my list of must-see works by this man. First work I saw was the impressive Guggenheim Museum in NYC and now this—the Darwin D. Martin House Complex aka Darwin Martin House National Historic Landmark (status received in 1986) built on the onset of the 20th Century. The house is on 125 Jewett Parkway in Buffalo, New York.

Wright’s Prarie School design on what is considered as his most important work of his career.

The house designed for the wealthy businessman by Wright is considered to be one of the most important works of his career and served as a prime example of the architect’s Prairie School ideal (architectural style characterized by horizontal lines, low, flat/hip roofs, broad overhanging eaves, prominent foundation, integration with the landscape, craftsmanship, etc.)

The cruciform design of the complex.

In a cruciform plan, the five interconnected buildings designed as a unified composition make up the complex— 1. the main house as the primary building; 2. a pergola (that connects to); 3. the conservatory and carriage house; 4. the Barton House (a smaller residence for the sister’s family); and 5. the gardener’s cottage.

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The Pergola then & now

The landscaping is highly integrated with the overall design. 

The interiors also contain the meticulous design details of the artist on the glass windows (394 designs including the famed “tree of Life” window), columns, ceiling and the furniture.

One of the 394 window designs by Wright that can be found in the house

Of his works, the architect shares, “The main motives and indications were: First – To reduce the number of necessary parts of the house and the separate rooms to a minimum, and make all come together as an enclosed space–so divided that light, air and vista permeated the whole with a sense of unity.”

Through & through. Maximum use of natural lighting with windows surrounding the house.
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When the house was abandoned when the family lost their fortune to the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression, the complex suffered considerable deterioration and damage. The property passed through several ownerships and parts of the complex where three of the original five buildings were demolished.

The Barton House viewed from the pergola

Finally in 1992, a group was formed—the Martin House Restoration Corporation (MHRC), whose main purpose was to raise funds and oversee a complete restoration of the complex. The reconstruction and restoration started in 1997 and is still ongoing to date. This is first time that a demolished structure of Frank Lloyd Wright has been rebuilt in the US.

One of the sources of the funds is generated by the Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion, which opened in 2009. It’s a visitor and interpretative center where those who are fans of Wright (like me) can walk through history and perhaps get to know how a great artist’s thought process via one of his most important designs.

Next on the my list—the Fallingwater. Now, how to get to Pennsylvania….

All images from the net.

For more travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 11, 2013.

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