Living in America: Frank Lloyd Wright, Harlem & Modern Housing
September 16, 2017
through December 17, 2017
Presented in conjunction with MoMA's Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive, this exhibition currently on view at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery focuses on community housing projects in Harlem. “Living in America,” a phrase written on wooden panels traveling with the model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City (1929–1958), evokes a question that preoccupied architects and planners throughout the mid 20th century: How to live together? Wright’s proposal for an exurban settlement of single-family houses offered one possible answer; plans for large public or subsidized housing located in urban areas presented another. Although these two visions seem a world apart, they share a common history, which is further explored in this exhibition.
Broadacre City was first exhibited at Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan in 1935. While a degree of economic diversity was anticipated, Broadacre’s residents were, for the most part, implicitly white. Almost concurrently, in 1936, construction began on the Harlem River Homes, one of New York City’s first public housing developments, funded by the Public Works Administration under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Built for working-class African Americans, the complex was designed by a consortium including John Louis Wilson Jr., the first African American to graduate from Columbia University’s School of Architecture. The exhibition tracks these two interwoven plotlines through project-specific drawings, photographs, and other materials, dating from the late 1920s to the late 1950s. Both stories connect social institutions, such as the nuclear family, with economic structures, such as private property or its alternatives. Wright’s version of the “American Dream” and Harlem’s public housing both draw lines of race, class, and gender, many of which persist today.
Curated by The Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP), and co-presented by The Buell Center, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, and Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. The curatorial team is composed of students from various Columbia University masters and doctoral programs together with the Center staff and in close collaboration with archivists from the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts library and other institutions.
Through December 17
Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University
615 West 129th Street
Wednesday-Friday noon-8:00pm, Saturday & Sunday noon-6:00pm