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Library of Congress // Public Domain
Library of Congress // Public Domain

5 Pieces of Advice From Frank Lloyd Wright

Library of Congress // Public Domain
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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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Buckingham Palace Was Built With Jurassic Fossils, Scientists Find
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iStock

The UK's Buckingham Palace is a vestige from another era, and not just because it was built in the early 18th century. According to a new study, the limestone used to construct it is filled with the fossilized remains of microbes from the Jurassic period of 200 million years ago, as The Telegraph reports.

The palace is made of oolitic limestone, which consists of individual balls of carbonate sediment called ooids. The material is strong but lightweight, and is found worldwide. Jurassic oolite has been used to construct numerous famous buildings, from those in the British city of Bath to the Empire State Building and the Pentagon.

A new study from Australian National University published in Scientific Reports found that the spherical ooids in Buckingham Palace's walls are made up of layers and layers of mineralized microbes. Inspired by a mathematical model from the 1970s for predicting the growth of brain tumors, the researchers created a model that explains how ooids are created and predicts the factors that limit their ultimate size.

A hand holding a chunk of oolite limestone
Australian National University

They found that the mineralization of the microbes forms the central core of the ooid, and the layers of sediment that gather around that core feed those microbes until the nutrients can no longer reach the core from the outermost layer.

This contrasts with previous research on how ooids form, which hypothesized that they are the result of sediment gathered from rolling on the ocean floor. It also reshapes how we think about the buildings made out of oolitic limestone from this period. Next time you look up at the Empire State Building or Buckingham Palace, thank the ancient microbes.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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architecture
5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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