A new exhibition features the dramatic plans that America’s most famous architect had for dense urban environments. At the MOMA in New York, viewers can explore Wright’s vacillations between remarkable density, such as his mile-high skyscraper called Illinois, and his attraction to dispersal, seen in his “Broadacre City”. The former was meant to house one hundred thousand people. The latter was his perfectly planned community in which each family would tend an acre of land and “residential areas would be spaced out between areas for commerce, industry, parkland, and agriculture.”
What’s the Big Idea?
In Wright’s day, the city was still negotiable, still under the influence of human forces. Today, it feels inevitable and all-encompassing. Wright wanted to give people the option to escape the city at a moment’s notice, but today there is no escape, at least there is no outside to escape to. But what about escaping to the inside? “That’s a directional metaphor Wright never explored: inward. Perhaps the space and the freedom to be found within cities is within the tangle, in the nooks and crannies, within the density of the hive. Inside the cramped space of the city, one is forced to confront oneself, to figure out who to be and how to be it, from the inside out.”