Frank Lloyd Wright said of his profession, “A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” Don’t leave yourself planting vines over the mistakes you’ve made in your life. A bucket list is designed to seize the wonders of life rather than make the mistake of leaving the world unexplored, and if architecture is your jam, there’s no better time than now to make a list of must see wonders.
While an all-inclusive list may become a bit burdensome, we have to start somewhere, and since Wright also quipped “tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles,” we might start with the more ordered state of the East Coast, which contains some notable examples of his work as well as a number of other remarkable architectural wonders.
1. Dwight D. Martin House
While Fallingwater in Pennsylvania is the go-to for the uninitiated, the true architectural enthusiast may want to check out this example of Wright’s famous “prairie style” in Buffalo, N.Y. The house, designed for its namesake businessman, showcases the planar lines and stained-glass windows distinctive of Wright’s style.
2. Hotel Lafayette
While you’re in Buffalo, you must stop in and pay homage to America’s first female architect, Louise Blanchard Bethune, who designed this 225-room French Renaissance-style hotel using red brick and terra cotta.
3. St George Greek Orthodox Cathedral
New Hampshire offers this unusual and stunning edifice designed by Christopher Kantiaris, which has been called “stay-puft modernism.” The airy, rounded white domes do indeed appear, well, mallowesque, but belie the visually stunning gold leaf, crystal chandeliers, and sky blue ceilings inside.
4. Smithfield-Liberty Garage
For a visually surreal experience, it’s worth visiting Pittsburgh to see this unusual and unusually set parking structure–you heard me right. Designed by local firm Altenhof and Bown, the spiral structure pays homage to Wright’s Guggenheim. Juxtapositioned to more prosaic red brick buildings, the white concrete spiral feels more like a dream.
5. Everson Museum of Art
Syracuse, New York presents I. M. Pei’s under-noticed structure of four chiseled, cantilevered concrete cubes that surround an open atrium and are connected by bridges. The structure is touted as a “three dimensional tour de force” that exemplifies Pei’s style.
6. Gropius House
Located in Lincoln, Massachusetts, near Walden Pond, this home, designed by Walter Gropius, may not be Thoreau’s cabin, but it certainly embraces his ideas of simplicity. The white rectangular structure combines traditional materials such as wood, brick, and fieldstone with more modern uses of chrome and acoustical plaster to “maximize beauty and efficiency.”
7. The Vietnam War Memorial
For a change of pace, visit the polished black surfaces designed by female architect Maya Lin. There’s something ghostly about seeing your reflection in the sheened surface where the names of dead soldiers fall through you like a dirge.
8. Florida Southern College
We’ll end where we began, with Frank Lloyd Wright. This Florida campus is the perfect end to a bucket list tour and offers the architectural connoisseur 10 buildings and 2 structures that he deemed “Child of the Sun” for the way they seem to grow from the landscape.
Ivan Young is a writer in partnership with wrought iron door manufacturer, Abby Iron Doors.
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