Google+ House Revivals: U is for Usonian

Thursday, June 10, 2010

U is for Usonian

U is for Usonian. As in the adjective!  As in Frank Lloyd Wright's description of a type of affordable architecture for people in the United States of North America.

Although, Frank Lloyd Wright probably was not the original author of the term "Usonian", his Usonian philosophy was definitely an original concept in architecture.  

 image from Frankk Lloyd Wright Foundation website, here.
To see an interview of Mr. Wright by Mike Wallace, click here.

Always an independent thinker, often a ruffler of feathers, later a more soft spoken and thoughtful speaker, Wright has come to be known as one of the great architects of all time.

Wright's Usonian homes were designed to be affordable and  elegant, simple, and built from interlocking concrete block.  The idea was that they would be easily reproduced and built in garden cites all over the country.  The Usonian house was a response to the automobile and the over crowded conditions in most cities of the time. 

Although Wright designed the house around a lifestyle concept for the common man, the Usonian house never quite caught on the way Wright had envisioned.  In this way, architects can be similar to politicians-- they both have strong opinions about how other people should live!  

Another big problem with the Usonian houses was that they were too expensive for the common man to afford.  The few homes that did get built, were customized to the point that they came in way over budget.  There is no denying, however, that they were beautiful pieces of sculpture.

 Perhaps the most beautiful example of Usonian architecture 
is the Pope-Leighey house, shown here.  To see this, and other 
striking images of Usonian houses, click here

With it's concrete block walls, concrete slab floor, and attached carport, the importance of the Usonian concept was probably not in it's own execution, but in it's function as a precursor to the popular ranch houses that later popped up all over the country.  And those ranch houses did, indeed, help define a unique American style of living!
American architecture and lifestyle began
to center around the automobile, as 
predicted by Frank Lloyd Wright, during
the second half of the last century. image source

This post is being linked to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Tuesday.  To see more posts on the letter "U", click here.