In the spirit of real discussion......I mentioned his Four Square
line, but decided today for general interest to go ahead and post
what it really was. Wright's Prairie Style Home project was homes
built around a square main room, intended to be affordable
In a spirit of real discussion…
There is a technique used in debates called "Reductio ad Absurdum"
which is latin for Reduction to Absurd. The ongoing argument about
the square is an excellent illustration of that.
It started with thesis, introduced by me, that square shape is not
the mainstay of a designer repertoire, due to it’s lack of dynamism,
and it’s use should be justified by special requirements of the
There were a few objections to which a response was provided that one
only has to look at all the previous history of Art and Architecture
to see that it is exactly the case.
Was square ever used ? Sure it was. In bereavement jewellery, in
burial plaques, in framing Nature Mort ( still life ) paintings, in
works where emphasis is placed on stability, serenity, and etc.
Square has a property drawing attention to the center, so if that
where the emphasis is desired, it’s use is justified.
But all of those are special cases. Well, I am not sure why, but some
participants just could not accept the evidence, so the thesis was
degenerated to the “square cannot be used at all”
Reductio ad Absurdum at work.
Frank Lloyd Wright name was dragged in. Man probably turning in his
grave by now.
He deserves much better, so I will discuss his Prairie Skyscraper or
Price Tower, since it was used in this debate.
The following was quoted:
Wright first conceived of a cantilever tower based on the geometry
of a rotated square in a 1927 project for St. Mark’s-in-the-Bouwerie.
The term “rotated square” was taken to mean the same as square,
which is not.
To use geometry of the square is not the same as having a square
as a final product.
"Cantilever tower based on the geometry of a rotated square"
refer to the construction and not to the design.
Reductio ad Absurdum at work.
Let’s see what this building was really about. Here is the excerpt
from Architecture and Space:
Price Tower Commentary
"Wright had two major difficulties of a philosophical sort in
designing a skyscraper: first, as a believer in an architecture close
to nature, he had a hard
time justifying a tal, upright, seemingly anti-nature building; and,
second, his obsession with the twin concepts of continuity and
plasticity. a preoccupation that had led him to the sea-shell and the
cocoon as ideal structural prototypes. made it difficult to approach
the design of a tall, multicellular building… He solved this
in a characteristic fashion, by going to the one source in nature
which did suggest a way of building a tall structuRe: the form of a
In structural terms a tree is a vertical beam cantilevered out of the
To Wright, the cantilever was also the ‘most romantic, most free, of
all principle of construction.’…
By 1929,…Wright had really designed his concrete-and-glass tree
just the way he wanted it:
the vertical service core was the trunk, and all utilities were
contained within this vertical shaft. All floors were cantilevered
out from it, and the exterior skin was simply sheathed in glass and
metal. This project. the famous apartment tower for the vestry of St
-the Bouweie in New York. was never built, but Wright returned to the
basic concept again and again; finally, in 1954, in Bartlesville,
Oklahoma, Wright was able to build his St Mark’s tower. twenty-five
years after it was first designed."
. Peter Blake. Frank Lloyd Wright: Architecture and Space. p86-88.
I have underlined pertinent phrases which I include below for
as a believer in an architecture close to nature twin concepts of
continuity and plasticity sea-shell and the cocoon as ideal
structural prototypes He solved this dilemma in a characteristic
fashion, by going to the one source in nature which did suggest a way
of building a tall structuRe: the form of a tree.
Hardly a square worshiper! But it did not stop my respected
opponents in this debate, from making him one. And all this was made
possible by using Reductio ad Absurdum. Very powerful technique
I would like to suggest, in the interest of real discussion, that the
names of the artists and the architects and the others contributors
to our understanding of the design, should not be used, unless the
user has firm grasp of the subject in general, and the knowledge of
the body of work in particular.