Friday, October 11, 2013

the last book I ever read (Frank Lloyd Wright: A Life by Ada Louise Huxtable, excerpt fourteen)

from Frank Lloyd Wright (Penguin Lives) by Ada Louise Huxtable:

From the outside, the Guggenheim Museum looks like a cylinder, or an inverted ziggurat once one notices the outward slant to the top. A series of stacked volumes grow wider as they rise to a glass dome; these layers are separated by a continuous glass band meant to bring daylight to the spiral ramp inside. A ledge along the ramp was to be used like an easel for the display of paintings that were to received natural light from the encircling glass. A round service core that Wright called the “monitor” intersects the larger circle of the ramp on one side. He wanted the visitor to take the elevator up to the top and “drift down” the spiral to the open space on the ground. From there, the full ramp is visible, its drama culminating in the skylit done. The building makes no bow to the neighboring apartment houses. Its freestanding sculpture establishes a powerful presence on Fifth Avenue facing Central Park, but the rounded contours suggest the “organic” nature of the park across the street. A block-long horizontal base on which the slightly receding cylinder appears to rest anchors its strong forms and establishes a relationship to the street and the site, at a mediating scale.

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