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5 Pieces of Advice From Frank Lloyd Wright

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Library of Congress // Public Domain

Happy birthday, Frank Lloyd Wright! America’s best-known architect was born 148 years ago today—though if he were still alive, he would have said he was turning 146. (He told people that he was born in 1869, although birth records indicate otherwise.) As befits the sagacity of his old age, here are five pearls of wisdom from the quintessential American designer.

1. “You must read the book of nature.”

In an article Wright wrote in The New York Times in 1953, he advised an intense study of the environment: 

It is necessary to have recourse to Nature with a capital N in order to get an education. Necessary to learn from trees, flowers, shells—objects which contain truths of form following function. If we stopped there, then it would be merely imitation. But if we dig deep enough to read the principles on which these are activated, we arrive at secrets of form related to purpose that would make of the tree a building and of the building a tree. 

2. Get rid of your air conditioner. 

Wright was all about building homes that blended in with their natural surroundings. In his book The Natural House (excerpted by The New York Times in 1954), Wright argued that “air conditioning is a dangerous circumstance ... I think it far better to go with the natural climate than to try to fix a special artificial climate of your own," he wrote (emphasis his). “Climate means something to man. It means something in relation to one’s life in it. Nature makes the body flexible and so the life of the individual invariably becomes adapted to environment and circumstance.”

3. Have a drink.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. Image Credit:Carol M. Highsmith via Wikipedia // Public Domain

Interviewed by The New York Times in the 1950s at the age of 89, Wright explained his habit of drinking a pre-dinner Irish whiskey thusly: “A man is a fool if he drinks before he reaches the age of 50, and a fool if he doesn’t afterward.” In the same interview, he declared that “Coffee is food for the body; tea, food for the mind.” 

4. Appreciate poetry. 

Wright thought all geniuses were poets at heart (including architects). At the end of one of his monographs, he railed against a lack of poets in American society: 

How America needs poets! God knows—she has enough profit takers, enough garage mechanics, enough journalists, enough teachers of only what has been taught, enough wage slaves. Without the poet—man of vision wherever he stands—the Soul of this people is a dead Soul. One must be insensible not to feel the chill creeping over ours…

5. Don’t rely too much on other people's advice.

Though Frank Lloyd Wright was a teacher who regularly advised young architects, he didn’t think too highly of other people’s advice. “Advice never bought a character worth the name, though advice is good,” he said in his first published lecture on architecture in 1900. 

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FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
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China's New Tianjin Binhai Library is Breathtaking—and Full of Fake Books
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FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A massive new library in Tianjin, China, is gaining international fame among bibliophiles and design buffs alike. As Arch Daily reports, the five-story Tianjin Binhai Library has capacity for more than 1 million books, which visitors can read in a spiraling, modernist auditorium with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Several years ago, municipal officials in Tianjin commissioned a team of Dutch and Japanese architects to design five new buildings, including the library, for a cultural center in the city’s Binhai district. A glass-covered public corridor connects these structures, but the Tianjin Binhai Library is still striking enough to stand out on its own.

The library’s main atrium could be compared to that of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City. But there's a catch: Its swirling bookshelves don’t actually hold thousands of books. Look closer, and you’ll notice that the shelves are printed with digital book images. About 200,000 real books are available in other rooms of the library, but the jaw-dropping main room is primarily intended for socialization and reading, according to Mashable.

The “shelves”—some of which can also serve as steps or seating—ascend upward, curving around a giant mirrored sphere. Together, these elements resemble a giant eye, prompting visitors to nickname the attraction “The Eye of Binhai,” reports Newsweek. In addition to its dramatic main auditorium, the 36,000-square-foot library also contains reading rooms, lounge areas, offices, and meeting spaces, and has two rooftop patios.

Following a three-year construction period, the Tianjin Binhai Library opened on October 1, 2017. Want to visit, but can’t afford a trip to China? Take a virtual tour by checking out the photos below.

A general view of the Tianjin Binhai Library
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman taking pictures at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A man visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman looking at books at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

[h/t Newsweek]

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Pol Viladoms
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One of Gaudí's Most Famous Homes Opens to the Public for the First Time
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Pol Viladoms

Visiting buildings designed by iconic Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí is on the to-do list of nearly every tourist passing through Barcelona, Spain, but there's always been one important design that visitors could only view from the outside. Constructed between 1883 and 1885, Casa Vicens was the first major work in Gaudí's influential career, but it has been under private ownership for its entire existence. Now, for the first time, visitors have the chance to see inside the colorful building. The house opened as a museum on November 16, as The Art Newspaper reports.

Gaudí helped spark the Catalan modernism movement with his opulent spaces and structures like Park Güell, Casa Batlló, and La Sagrada Familia. You can see plenty of his architecture around Barcelona, but the eccentric Casa Vicens is regarded as his first masterpiece, famous for its white-and-green tiles and cast-iron gate. Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, Casa Vicens is a treasured part of the city's landscape, yet it has never been open to the public.

Then, in 2014 the private Spanish bank MoraBanc bought the property with the intention of opening it up to visitors. The public is finally welcome to take a look inside following a $5.3 million renovation. To restore the 15 rooms to their 19th-century glory, designers referred to historical archives and testimonies from the descendants of former residents, making sure the house looked as much like Gaudí's original work as possible. As you can see in the photos below, the restored interiors are just as vibrant as the walls outside, with geometric designs and nature motifs incorporated throughout.

In addition to the stunning architecture, museum guests will find furniture designed by Gaudí, audio-visual materials tracing the history of the house and its architect, oil paintings by the 19th-century Catalan artist Francesc Torrescassana i Sallarés, and a rotating exhibition. Casa Vicens is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. General admission costs about $19 (€16).

An empty room in the interior of Casa Vicens

Interior of house with a fountain and arched ceilings

One of the house's blue-and-white tiled bathrooms

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

All images courtesy of Pol Viladoms.

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