there’s been a lot of buzz recently, and for good reason, about frank lloyd wright’s work in buffalo. while the number of structures pales compared to oak park or chicago, you can see exactly how wright’s brilliance evolved when he had the opportunity of working for a patron who was both highly respected by wright, and highly supportive of him — both creatively and economically.
also, i’ve recently had the pleasure of watching Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo on PBS. it makes me quite nostalgic for home. only a few years ago (well… okay, 12 years ago… eep!) my professor for architectural drawing said “our next class is gonna meet on jewett parkway.” as a mere silly architecture student, i got to wander around and inside the darwin martin house and sketch for a few hours. UB had just acquired it.
my casual acquaintance with wright’s buffalo started much earlier, however. my grandmother was a gracious supporter of an order of priests called the piarist fathers, some of whom lived in a great, extraordinary house in derby, ny. every summer we’d spend a few days there at their annual “lawn fete.” at the time, i had no formal or informal introduction to architecture, but i remember that house affecting me.
what stuck out in my mind was the openness. the stone floors. the ability to move from the living room to the dining room, and not really feel like you left one space and entered the other; there were no doorways. and the enormous windows on the lake side made you feel like you were both outside and inside simultaneously.
what i would find out later (in architecture school) was that this house i’d been visiting for most of my young life, was frank lloyd wright’s graycliff, the summer home he built for darwin martin (or more accurately, for martin’s wife). this is also being restored to it’s former glory – and i don’t use that term lightly. it is a phenomenal house, and a glorious experience to be in.