*The is a re-post from June 2013*
Today in my neighborhood I passed by workers installing rebar-reinforced concrete. Recently, I went to a movie theater that had floor lighting I could walk on. About a month ago, I had dinner in my neighbor’s “great room.” My architect brother has always been a great fan of track lighting. So what, you say?
Last month, my wife and I visited Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter residence and architectural campus in the Sonoran Desert. Having grown up in a Buffalo, New York neighborhood home to the Darwin Martin Complex and the Davidson House, we were very familiar with the famed architect’s reputation as an iconoclast.
Nonetheless, we were stunned to learn that Wright had introduced all four of these innovations — the great room, track lighting, floor lighting, and steel reinforcement in concrete — during the construction of this desert masterpiece and National Historic Landmark. As we toured Taliesin West, we wondered: What makes such a great innovator? We could imagine Wright thinking, Everyone else puts lights in the ceiling, so I guess I’ll put the lights in the floor.
On the last stop of the tour, we marveled at yet another innovation, the movie theater. Designed as an irregular hexagon, the theater achieves 95% acoustic purity, according to the docent. To demonstrate, he lowered his voice to a whisper and then slowly turned his back to us. We could still hear him clearly despite the fact that we were sitting in the very back row.
Turning to leave, we discovered Wright’s Organic Commandments displayed rather inconspicuously on a metal sign toward the back of the theater:
- LOVE is the virtue of the HEART
- SINCERITY the virtue of the MIND
- COURAGE the virtue of the SPIRIT
- DECISION the virtue of the WILL
Discovering these Commandments helped to satisfy our need to know what made Wright an iconoclast. More importantly, we agreed that the Organic Commandments could be the foundation upon which to build any rich, creative and productive life.