Los Angeles   

 RANK LLOYD WRIGHT'S HOLLYHOCK HOUSE  A well-illustrated, carefully researched study of this unique house built in 1920 for  heiress Aline Barnsdall.R. Buckminster Fuller, known by his friends as "Bucky", has undeniably been one of the key innovators in the 20th century. He is known as a philosopher, thinker, visionary, inventor, architect, engineer, mathematician, poet, cosmologist, and more. Buckminster Fuller was probably one of the first futurists and global thinkers. He is the one who coined the term "Spaceship Earth", and his work has inspired and paved the way for many who came after him. Bucky was the person most responsible for making Synergy a common term. Much of his work was about exploring and creating synergy. He found synergy to be a basic principle of all interactive systems. He developed a subject called Synergetics, a "Geometry of Thinking". Fuller is the inventor of the Geodesic dome, and was a pioneer in utilizing basic geometical shapes in design. A key goal for Buckminster Fuller was the development of what he called "Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science", which is the attempt to anticipate and solve humanity's major problems by providing "more and more life support for everybody, with less and less resources." Fuller routinely demonstrated his ideas in what he called "artifacts", tangible prototypes or models of designs and principles.  


Buckminster Fuller invented the Geodesic Dome in the late 1940s to demonstrate some ideas about housing and ``energetic-synergetic geometry'' which he had developed during WWII. This invention built on his two decade old quest to improve the housing of humanity. It represents a brilliant demonstration of his synergetics principles; and in the right circumstances it could solve some of the pressing housing problems of today (this housing crisis Fuller predicted back in 1927). 


"No ordinary woman" was how Wright described Aline Barnsdall, a theater patron and sometime producer, who gave the architect his first major commission in California. Wright thought her planned arts community for thirty-six-acre Olive Hill in Los Angeles potentially "a generation or two ahead of itself." They embarked full of optimism on nearly ten years of work together, but an accumulation of delays and disagreements led to a rift between architect and client, and finally to the abandonment of the project. Of the several completed buildings, the grand house Wright designed for Barnsdall and her daughter is the only significant one that survives. 

 Design of the main house had yet to begin when Barnsdall decided to name it after her favorite flower, the
 hollyhock. Wright's abstract geometric rendering of the hollyhock, cast in concrete and used as integral
 ornamentation throughout the exterior and interior, comes into view as one ascends Olive Hill and arrives
 at the motor court on the north side of the house. Friezes of the motif relieve the massive parapets that
 press the building into the earth. This weightiness is accentuated by doors and windows--many of them
 employing art glass--seemingly recessed into the walls. Wright's evocation of pre-Columbian
 monumentality and imagery, which had already surfaced in his work, would reappear in the four
 textile-block houses that followed, where he took this sense of romance and mystery to even greater
Not lacking in mystery itself, however, Hollyhock House guards its interior, especially from the over sixty-foot-long walkway leading from the motor court to the entry. The final several feet of this covered, walled path are constricted by corbeled walls devoid of openings. At the end of this dark passage is a pair of cast concrete doors whose heft demands that they be opened slowly. After this choreographed experience, one can choose to head toward several living spaces, all of them visible from the entry. 

 The public spaces, opening to one another through wide doorways, wood screens, and
 art-glass windows, are uniquely defined in scale, elevation, and detail. The wood-paneled
 dining room, small for such a substantial house, is four steps above the level of the entry and
 music room, the living room one step below. Within the living room, the largest space in the
 house, the fireplace--its hearth surrounded by a reflecting pool and its wall bearing one of
 Wright's rare reliefs--is the focus. Wright designed two impressive sofas combined with tables,
 so that they could be set at an angle to the fireplace wall to create an enclave around the hearth
 and its pool. The palette of green and gold on the plaster ceiling is carried through the
 upholstery and carpet and in the Japanese screens placed in two corners as integral parts of the

 The living spaces and other rooms in the U-shaped plan look outward onto adjacent
 terraces, pools, and gardens, and, when possible, toward the city beyond Olive Hill. But
 the force that dominates is centripetal, pulling one through the loggia on the east side of the
 living room, or through the grand colonnade along the north wing of the house, into the
 inner garden courtyard. Although the courtyard opens to the east, a bridge connecting the
 north and south wings and their roof terraces preserves the sense of enclosure. Beneath the
 bridge is a circular pool whose amphitheater seating faces back into the garden and its
 shielding parapeted walls. Barnsdall's guests gathered here to view the theater productions
 she staged in the courtyard and on the roof terraces of the west wing. Today's visitors can
 also sit at the amphitheater to face the ever-present hollyhock icons watching over all. 

Beles. Residents claim they have found the best of all worlds in one location.
What great architects have not put their signature on this city of the Angels?  

On this page we have the names of Frank Lloyd Wright with his Hollyhock House and the Geodesmic Dome of Buckminster Fuller. 
Of course t