Frank Lloyd Wright is commonly known as the forefather of global architecture. He has been recognised as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) greatest architect of all time, and is perhaps more relevant in modern times than in his heyday due to his promotion of “organic architecture”.
It will come as a relief to industry traditionalists that the iconic residence “Ennis House” he famously designed, has been saved from desolation in its $4.2 million ($US 4.5 million) sale to American business magnate Ron Burkle earlier this month.
Located in Los Feliz California, the home was designed as an example of “Mayan Revival Architecture”, a design movement whereby inspiration is obtained from the architecture and design processes of the Mayan civilisation.
The reliance on this architectural movement is clearly seen through the buildings concrete brick exterior and fortress-like form. The house, built in 1924, incorporates the use of approximately 27,000 concrete bricks 16 inches in size covering its entire facade.
What Wright was able to do, was take the banality of the concrete block and turn it into a national treasure (the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places).
Although stunning and innovative, the early use of the cement blocks meant that construction methods left the building unstable. The building itself has been uninhabited since the 1980’s. After many environment shifts culminating with the 2005 heavy rains, the house was declared uninhabitable and unsafe to enter.
It is a relief to the industry globally that an important piece of this prolific architect’s portfolio could be maintained for future generations. Those involved in the Ennis foundation are confident in Mr. Burkle’s ability to re-establish Ennis House as the icon that it has always been.
It is so important in a time of such innovation and liquidity, especially in the architecture sector, that works of industry greats are being maintained. The redevelopment of this building will be monumental to the industry for both technical and sentimental reason. It is a testament to Wright’s work that it still holds so much importance in the fifty years since his death.