Build Wooden Models of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Great Building: The Guggenheim, Unity Temple, Johnson Wax Headquarters & More

Frank Lloyd Wright had his eccen­tric­i­ties, in not just his per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al con­duct but also the very lan­guage with which he described the world. Among the endur­ing­ly fas­ci­nat­ing ele­ments of his idi­olect is the word Uson­ian, which refers to things of or per­tain­ing to the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca.  Wright did­n’t coin the term: its ear­li­est record­ed user is the ear­ly 20th-cen­tu­ry writer James Duff Law, who declared that “We of the Unit­ed States, in jus­tice to Cana­di­ans and Mex­i­cans, have no right to use the title ‘Amer­i­cans’ when refer­ring to mat­ters per­tain­ing exclu­sive­ly to our­selves.” The most famous archi­tect in Amer­i­can his­to­ry took Uson­ian fur­ther, using it to label an Amer­i­can archi­tec­tur­al sen­si­bil­i­ty — of, nat­u­ral­ly, his own design.

Though Wright did envi­sion an ide­al­ly Uson­ian city, his clear­est expres­sions of the aes­thet­ic stand today in the form of the Uson­ian hous­es. Built between 1934 and 1958, these six­ty or so res­i­dences take advan­tage, as Wright saw it, of the range of dis­tinc­tive set­tings offered up by the land­scapes of the Unit­ed States.

Designed with fea­tures like gar­den ter­races, cleresto­ry win­dows, flat roofs with wide over­hangs, and easy visu­al and phys­i­cal pas­sage between the indoors and out­doors, these urban-rur­al hybrids still today draw the admi­ra­tion of archi­tects and non-archi­tects alike. But tru­ly to under­stand a Uson­ian house, per­haps you must build one your­self: luck­i­ly, the Lit­tle Build­ing Com­pa­ny offers a mod­el kit that lets you do just that.

Their Wright line­up also includes minia­ture wood­en ver­sions of his 1908 Uni­ty Tem­ple in Oak Park, his 1937 John­son Wax Head­quar­ters in Racine, and his 1937 Solomon R. Guggen­heim Muse­um in New York. The dif­fer­ences in scale and com­plex­i­ty between these build­ings make for a nat­ur­al mod­el-build­ing dif­fi­cul­ty curve: once you’ve done a Wright house, you’ll be ready for a Wright tem­ple; once you’ve done a Wright tem­ple, you’ll be ready for a Wright cor­po­rate head­quar­ters, and so on. Not only will the effort hone your man­u­al dex­ter­i­ty, it will height­en your appre­ci­a­tion for the Amer­i­can archi­tec­ture-defin­ing inno­va­tions Wright pulled off in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. But do you have to be from the Unit­ed States to under­stand the Uson­ian? Based in Aus­tralia and sell­ing to the world, the Lit­tle Build­ing Com­pa­ny sug­gests not.

via MyMod­ern­Met

Relat­ed Con­tent:

12 Famous Frank Lloyd Wright Hous­es Offer Vir­tu­al Tours: Hol­ly­hock House, Tal­iesin West, Falling­wa­ter & More

Frank Lloyd Wright Designs an Urban Utopia: See His Hand-Drawn Sketch­es of Broad­acre City (1932)

The Mod­ernist Gas Sta­tions of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe

How Frank Lloyd Wright’s Son Invent­ed Lin­coln Logs, “America’s Nation­al Toy” (1916)

That Far Cor­ner: Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Ange­les – a Free Online Doc­u­men­tary

Omoshi­roi Blocks: Japan­ese Memo Pads Reveal Intri­cate Build­ings As The Pages Get Used

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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