Whitney Museum of American Art
project name : Frank Lloyd Wright, Designs for an American
location : Madison Avenue, New York
year of design: 1995
client: Canadian Center for Architecture/Whitney Museum
architect: George Ranalli
design team: Price Harrison, Fran Leadon, Aaron MacDonald
photographer: Paul Warchol
The Whitney Museum exhibit, “Frank Lloyd Wright: Designs for an American Landscape, 1922–1932,” presented five of the architect’s most ambitious and radical projects for rural sites, designed during his celebrated “lost years.” Wright’s projects exist only as drawings. Ranalli Architect prepared detailed models that allowed the architectural layman to immediately comprehend the scope and intent of Wright’s extraordinary ideas. The installation design relies on graphic elements to organize and orchestrate the complex array of drawings and models in the exhibit. While broad bands of color run continuously around the top and bottom of each of the rooms, intricate vertical elements separate the five projects, alerting the viewer to variations within each project.
The design mediates between the museum environment and the exhibited work. The most palpable result is a warm, intimately scaled and coherent space within the gallery. On a theoretical level, the design suggests the possibility of a renewed connection between our real American present and an alternative future America represented in Wright’s drawings. The exhibit is thus a presentation of historic documents, and a new design work embracing a living, vital past.