Talks of building a Wright-designed structure are underway in the architect’s hometown
When Frank Lloyd Wright passed away in 1959, he didn’t only leave behind one of the greatest architectural legacies of any American designer, but also numerous unfinished projects. In the years after his death, other architects stepped in to oversee the completion of a dozen or so in-progress projects, like the Marin County Civic Center or the Socrates Zaferiou House. A handful of projects have even been constructed completely posthumously, like a mausoleum in Buffalo built in 2004. Now, a boathouse in Wisconsin may soon join the list.
Designed in 1893, Wright conceived the Monona Boathouse at just 26 years old. The young architect had just opened his practice in Chicago and was hired to design a structure along the shores of Lake Monona in his home state, Wisconsin. A group of progressive leaders headed by John Olin, the “father of Madison’s park system,” wanted to replace a collection of illegal and unattractive boat houses that had popped up over the years along the lakefront. Wright turned in a design for a circular structure with a conical roof, which would have been built if not for an economic depression in 1894.
Now, nearly 130 years later, this early Wright design may soon become a reality. Last month, an ad hoc committee assembled by the Friends of Nolen Waterfront, an organization shepherding the effort to reshape Madison’s waterfront, gathered to hear design propositions from three firms tasked with reimagining the area. Representatives from Sasaki, James Corner Field, and Agency Landscape & Planning presented ideas for redeveloping 1.7 miles of shoreline, and, according to The Cap Times, a local Madison publication, many proposals included Wright’s original boathouse.
Through the redevelopment, the city is hoping to provide greater waterfront access to the public in addition to implementing green infrastructure and pedestrian friendly areas near the lake. According to The Cap Times, currently there are few safe ways to access the lakefront area, and when there, it’s hard to do much more than walk or bike.
While official plans have yet to be decided, this wouldn’t be the first time Madison has built a Wright design after the architect’s death. In 1997, the city constructed the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center along the shores of the lake, which Frank Lloyd Wright had first designed between 1938 and 1959.
Original Source: Architectural Digest