March 7, 2013

"I took the human being, at five feet eight and one-half inches tall, like myself, as the human scale."

"If I had been taller, the scale might have been different."

29 comments:

Henry said...

Ha ha Frank Lloyd Wright! I've got a quarter inch on you, shorty.

Icepick said...

This just confirms my belief that the world is designed for short people.

chickelit said...

I was never a fan of Wright's insistence on low ceilings and such doorways. The complaints affect the buildings' livabilities, not their visual appeal. Would his whole aesthetic have changed had he added another six inches to everything?

McTriumph said...

F. L. Wright was a huckster.

traditionalguy said...

I always admired the goldilocks scale of Wrights design and now I know why. He was normal height.

I'd say 5', 8.5''is harmoniously short enough to dance with the 5' girls and tall enough to run over the 6', 2''+ guys who seemed to have a harder time keeping their center of gravity and balance.

Darrell said...

Gee. I try to built things that would work comfortably for tall people, but can also be used by those shorter--perhaps in the same household. Why? Because Those are the kind of people I see around me.

It never occured to me to built things that only work well for myself.

CWJ said...

Now I know why I've always felt comfortable in his structures.

Actually McT, I find FLW's early to middle period home design philosophy quite congenial. There's far more to it than meets the eye, and that's saying something.

Ann Althouse said...

"This just confirms my belief that the world is designed for short people."

It's designed for the average. Being average height or close to it is like being right handed. People long for the social advantages of being tall and don't sufficiently appreciate all the comforts of standard-sized things, like chairs.

I'm average height for a female (5'5").

Darrell said...

Short ceilings get dirtier faster, get oppressively hot in Summer, and are stifling aesthetically and psychologically. Open spaces, lots of light--within reason--makes for more comfortable living. You don't have to built for those
7'8" (outliers) but you should at least accommodate the "most likely" range.

mishu said...
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mishu said...

I work near the Price Tower, the only skyscraper he designed that was ever built. The elevators in that building were not only designed for a person of average height in the 1950's but average girth as well. When my brother and myself went up the elevator towards the bar at the top, it felt quite awkward.

Rob said...

And of course Wes Peters was married both to Wright's adopted daughter and, after her death, to the daughter of Joseph Stalin. News you can use.

edutcher said...

High ceilings were the rage in them thar days so frank was being avant garde.

(people have marveled at the high ceilings in the house my mother's
father built and most of the people in her family were a little shorter than average)

wyo sis said...

What Wright thought was avant garde sounds like a return to cave dwelling. He only allowed himself 6 inches of headroom?

Does avant garde mean uncomfortable?

Strelnikov said...

It's good to find out, at this relatively late date, that I'm exactly to scale.

Astro said...
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Strelnikov said...

"Would his whole aesthetic have changed had he added another six inches to everything?"

Well, his private life certainly would have.

Strelnikov said...

"I think he exaggerated his height. I don't think he was even that tall, maybe more like 5'6"."

You mean you think he was heightening?

Astro said...

I think he exaggerated his height. I doubt he was only 4'11'; I'd guess more like 5'4" to 5'6".
Many of his buildings accommodate taller people, but there are places along the walkways at Fla Southern College that are a challenge for anyone over 5'7".

Icepick said...

and tall enough to run over the 6', 2''+ guys who seemed to have a harder time keeping their center of gravity and balance.

yeah, that's why the NFL hates linebackers over 5'11" tall. Guys like Dick Butkus just fall over so easily.

Ann Althouse said...

"Short ceilings get dirtier faster, get oppressively hot in Summer."

Now that we use air conditioning, isn't it more sensible to eliminate the unused high space that collects the warm air in the winter?

Darrell said...

Now that we use air conditioning

See, I don't use air conditioning. Can't afford it. And the air circulation required to move warm air back into the room in winter requires just a fraction of the energy. Here's a case where a hand fan can actually do some good. The mixed air stay around for awhile. In the meantime, the space is more airy and livable--for both body and soul.

traditionalguy said...

@ icepick...What would Bully Boy Butkus have done with a smaller, soft spoken running back such as TCU's 5' 9'' 235 lbs Ladainian Tomlinson?

IMO the taller man is often not as agile as the normal sized but muscular guy, although arm length does help him some.

Crunchy Frog said...

I'm 5'5", but even I would go crazy trying to live in one of Wright's hobbit houses.

Darrell said...

What would Bully Boy Butkus have done with a smaller, soft spoken running back such as TCU's 5' 9'' 235 lbs Ladainian Tomlinson?

Plant him in the ground, I suspect, just like he did with all the Hall-of-Famers he faced in his career.

Darrell said...

I remember hearing an interview with another Hall-of-Famers and the guy saying how dirty a player Butkus was. When another guy on the show that played in those same games suggested that the first guy was a dirty player too--having stuck a thumb in his eye--the first guy said something like "But I was just starting out--Butkus was already a legend. You don't expect stuff like that from a legend. He knocked me out of the game doing the same stuff I was trying to do to him. That's not right."

And he wasn't trying to be funny.

virgil xenophon said...

@mishu/

Technically you are correct, but the KADEN TOWER in Dupont Circle in Louisville, ky., was designed by a student of Wright and is about as close to an original Wright as one can get not only in terms of overall aesthetic but of structural technique as well..

And as for "average height?" That has changed greatly over the years--especially in athletics. I am also 5'8&1/2" and when I was a tennis player in the HS & College in the 50s and 60s I was considered of average height; it was EXCEEDINGLY RARE to find a tennis player over 6' 2" or 6'3" Now it is not uncommon for players of 6'7 or 6'9 to play and someone of my height is now considered short. Likewise in Football and basketball. In the 50/60s guards in BB ranged generally around 5'8" to 6 feet. Now the average is around 6'3/6'4" with many in the 6'5" to 6'9"" category. I remember my freshman year in HS ('58-'59) the average size of an All-State tight end in Illinois was 6'4" and 190lbs (I remember because my team had an All-Stater at that position of exactly those proportions) Four years later my senior year the average size at that same position was 6'5" and 215lbs, LOL!

The Godfather said...

Wright's rationale sounds silly. As it happens, I'm 5' 8 1/2", but my kid brother is 6' 2", and I have at least one friend I can think of who's 6' 6". I also have friends who are 5' or an inch or two less. If I asked Wright to design a house for me, it would be one that would accommodate, comfortably, not only me, but my taller and shorter friends.

If Wright were not willing to meet that requirement, I wouldn't hire him, and I don't think anyone would criticize me for that decision.

Some Seppo said...

I call bullshit. I toured the FLW workshop in Oak Park last summer and the docent stated that Wright used compression and expansion of space for dramatic effect.

Walk under a 6'-2" door frame into an 8' ceiling room and it makes you feel something. This effect is demonstrated several times in just that one building.