The Unrealized Projects of Frank Lloyd Wright Get Brought to Life with 3D Digital Reconstructions

All images here by David Romero

From the hum­blest home ren­o­va­tor to the might­i­est auteur of sky­scrap­ers, every archi­tect shares the com­mon expe­ri­ence of not build­ing their projects. This is true even of Frank Lloyd Wright him­self: in his life­time he cre­at­ed 1,171 archi­tec­tur­al works, 660 of which went unre­al­ized. How those nev­er-built Wright designs would have fared in the phys­i­cal realm has been a top­ic of great inter­est for the archi­tec­t’s gen­er­a­tion upon gen­er­a­tion of fans.

But one lover of Wright’s work has gone well beyond spec­u­la­tion, cre­at­ing faith­ful, pho­to­re­al­is­tic 3D ren­der­ings of these nonex­is­tent struc­tures, a few of which you can see at the site of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foun­da­tion.

Notably, the dig­i­tal artist pay­ing such painstak­ing homage to this most Amer­i­can of all archi­tects hails from Spain. David Romero is the cre­ator of the site Hooked on the Past, a show­case of his var­i­ous archi­tec­tur­al ren­der­ings.

“The project start­ed in 2018, when the Frank Lloyd Wright Foun­da­tion com­mis­sioned Romero to ren­der some of the architect’s most ambi­tious works for its quar­ter­ly mag­a­zine,” writes Smith­son­ian’s Mol­ly Enk­ing. “Each series of images cor­re­sponds with a dif­fer­ent theme — like designs relat­ed to auto­mo­biles. Most recent­ly, Romero tack­led sev­er­al of Wright’s unre­al­ized sky­scraper projects for the foun­da­tion.”

Romero’s most ambi­tious under­tak­ing thus far has been his ren­der­ing of Broad­acre City, Wright’s design for an entire urban-rur­al utopia pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture. “Mod­el­ing Broad­acre took me over eight months,” he tells the FLWF. “The vir­tu­al mod­el con­tains more than one hun­dred build­ings, of which all the exte­ri­or facades have been mod­eled, includ­ing their doors and win­dows. There also are one hun­dred ships, two hun­dred ‘aero­tors,’ 5,800 cars, and more than 250,000 trees in the vir­tu­al mod­el,” each made of “hun­dreds of thou­sands of three-dimen­sion­al poly­gons.”

Even though Wright left behind a fair­ly rich set of mate­ri­als doc­u­ment­ing his plans for Broad­acre City, Romero had to draw from oth­er sources both to fill out the sur­round­ing land­scape (Mid­west­ern, por supuesto) and to cre­ate a prop­er­ly “retro-futur­is­tic” ambi­ence. “A ref­er­ence that seemed espe­cial­ly rel­e­vant to me was the Dymax­ion Car by Buck­min­ster Fuller,” he says, “a design that has points in com­mon with Wright’s ideas.”

The near-fan­tas­ti­cal Broad­acre City would prob­a­bly have been unbuild­able at any point in his­to­ry, but oth­ers would also face seri­ous chal­lenges today: “For exam­ple, in the Trin­i­ty Chapel Wright designed beau­ti­ful access ramps with a sin­gle con­stant slope through­out its path. This design, per­fect­ly valid in 1958, would not meet today the require­ments of the ADA code and the design would lose the ele­gance of its sim­plic­i­ty.”

Romero has also brought to dig­i­tal life a range of Wright’s oth­er demol­ished or nev­er-built projects includ­ing the Thomas C. Lea House, the Ari­zona Capi­tol Build­ing, the Lake Tahoe Sum­mer Colony (fea­tur­ing cab­ins that appear to float in the water), the mas­sive Nation­al Life Insur­ance Build­ing, and the Uni­ver­sal Port­land Cement Co. Exhi­bi­tion Pavil­ion. Giv­en the work Romero and his col­lab­o­ra­tors (includ­ing no few fel­low enthu­si­asts with keen eyes for inac­cu­rate-look­ing details) have put in, Frank Lloyd Wright would sure­ly rec­og­nize more than a few of his own visions in the results — and in the project itself, some­thing of his own ambi­tion.

via Smith­son­ian Mag­a­zine/Messy Nessy

Relat­ed con­tent:

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

A Vir­tu­al Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lost Japan­ese Mas­ter­piece, the Impe­r­i­al Hotel in Tokyo

Take 360° Vir­tu­al Tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Archi­tec­tur­al Mas­ter­pieces, Tal­iesin & Tal­iesin West

What Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unusu­al Win­dows Tell Us About His Archi­tec­tur­al Genius

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

When Frank Lloyd Wright Designed a Dog­house, His Small­est Archi­tec­tur­al Cre­ation (1956)

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.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.