Looking for Usonia : preserving Frank Lloyd Wright's post-1935 residential designs as generators of cultural landscapes

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2006-01-01
Authors
Brown, William
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Abstract

Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian houses, relatively modest single-family residences built between 1935 and 1964, pose unique challenges for 21st century preservationists. First, while often individually and locally celebrated, they are diffused across the U.S. landscape. As such, they are less likely to be collectively recognized as objects of study, cultural significance, and/or economic development. Second, their geographical distribution prevents fully leveraging proven preservation tools such as historic district designations. Third, their modest physical scales place them at risk for demolition or removal in favor of more spacious and luxurious residences. This research posits that a preserved Usonian house can be regarded as an object that both represents and generates social discourse. These sets of beliefs and assumptions regarding the geography, history, politics, and economics surrounding an object, make up a cultural landscape. This research involves the case study investigation of eight Usonian structures currently preserved as house museums or vacation rental properties. After identifying and exploring the cultural landscapes generated by each, the paper concludes with a set of recommended practices for the preservation of similar sites.

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Architectural Studies
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