The Initiative to revive Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lost Projects

The Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative has an ambitious and potentially fraught goal: to construct the architect's unbuilt and demolished buildings.

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Banff pavilion by Frank Llyod Wright that was demolished in 1939
Banff pavilion by Frank Llyod Wright that was demolished in 1939

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Banff pavilion by Frank Llyod Wright that was demolished in 1939
Banff pavilion by Frank Llyod Wright that was demolished in 1939

Every architect leaves behind a portfolio of dreams: buildings designed or sketched that were never built. The more ambitious the architect, the bigger the size of those dreams. There are also the buildings that once took solid form, that were built and then torn down—not dreams so much as ghosts. Few architects in the 20th century were more ambitious than Frank Lloyd Wright, and perhaps none had a career that encompassed more unfulfilled dreams and persistent ghosts. About 530 Wright buildings were constructed during the architect’s lifetime, and he left behind drawings for another 500 or so, including 100 in which the designs reached a fairly advanced stage.

What if you could give life to the unbuilt projects? And what if you could rebuild the projects that were torn down?

That simple idea, equal parts audacious and quixotic, is behind the Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative, which was founded by Michael Miner, 54, an independent filmmaker who has produced four documentaries that examine the architect’s legacy. For the initiative’s first project, Miner is hoping to rebuild a park pavilion in Banff, Canada, that Wright designed in 1911 in association with his student Francis C. Sullivan, and which was demolished in 1939. The pavilion was 200 feet long with a low-hipped roof and the strong horizontal lines characteristic of Wright’s prairie style. Constructed of local stone, cedar, and spruce, it had a central space with art-glass windows running along one side and a pair of stone fireplaces. Men’s and women’s “retiring” rooms were located on each end of the building, which was unheated and usable about four months a year. […]

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