Frank Lloyd Wright, Saint Mark's Tower House, New York, USA, 1929

Frank Lloyd Wright, Saint Mark’s Tower House, New York, USA, 1929

Frank Lloyd Wright, Saint Mark’s Tower House, New York, USA, 1929

About the architect
Frank Lloyd Wright (born Frank Lincoln Wright, June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) was an American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures, 532 of which were completed. Wright believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture. This philosophy was best exemplified by Fallingwater (1935), which has been called “the best all-time work of American architecture”. Wright was a leader of the Prairie School movement of architecture and developed the concept of the Usonian home, his unique vision for urban planning in the United States. His creative period spanned more than 70 years.

About the house
The design of these apartment towers for St. Mark’s-in-the-Bouwerie in New York City stemmed from Wright’s vision for Usonia, a new American culture based on the synthesis of architecture and landscape. The organic “tap-root” structural system resembles a tree, with a central concrete and steel load-bearing core rooted in the earth, from which floor plates are cantilevered like branches. This system frees the building of load-bearing interior partitions and supports a modulated glass curtain wall for increased natural illumination. Floor plates are rotated axially to generate variation from one level to the next and to distinguish between living and sleeping spaces in the duplex apartments. The three towers on the triangular park site are positioned apart from other tall buildings to avoid creating the dark urban canyons that Wright detested. Although the St. Mark’s project was never realized, its concepts were materialized thirty years later in Wright’s H. C. Price Company Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

As Curbed reports, Wright’s complex of three glass apartment buildings—two 14-story, one 18-story—would have formed a triangular formation around St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery in the East Village. The church rector, William Norman Guthrie, commissioned the project to Wright, who proposed to build the trio of towers without any structural steel, according to a contemporaneous account. Instead, they would have concrete cores from which floor plates would radiate “like branches.” Heavy plate glass would be used to fill in the the gaps between floors, while copper would cover the cantilevered parapets.


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