Animal: What Makes Us Human

Frank Lloyd Wright's Modern Human

Herman Miller Design Program

Frank Lloyd Wright’s towering designs—and ideas—are imprinted all over the United States, including the Robie House in Chicago and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. His ambition, however, was far larger than the creation of beautiful and functional buildings. Like other modernist masters, he saw architecture as a way to transform individuals and society through the built environment. In this program, architect Jeanne Gang and Barry Bergdoll, chief curator of architecture and design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, embark on a discussion of Wright’s legacy. Their conversation, moderated by University of Illinois architectural historian Dianne Harris, will be informed by (and showcase) the newly available Wright archive, recently acquired by MoMA and Columbia University’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. The archive is enormous and rich: 23,000 architectural drawings, 44,000 historical photographs, large-scale presentation models, manuscripts, and extensive correspondence offer unparalleled access to Wright’s broadly humanist vision and its relevance for contemporary architectural practice, themes Bergdoll and Gang will plumb for us.

This program is generously underwritten by Herman Miller and is presented in partnership with the Society of Architectural Historians and the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University.

Images by Alissa Zhu

Speakers and Performers

Barry Bergdoll

Barry Bergdoll is a professor of architectural history in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University and the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. 

Jeanne Gang

Jeanne Gang leads Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects, a rising international practice whose work confronts pressing contemporary issues. In 2009 she was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Her work with Studio Gang has been published and exhibited widely, most notably at the International Venice Biennale, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Art Institute of Chicago. Reveal, her first volume on Studio Gang’s work and working process, was released in April 2011 from Princeton Architectural Press. She is a 2011 winner of a MacArthur Fellowship.

Dianne Harris

Dianne Harris is director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities and a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an architectural historian who specializes in the study of suburbs and suburban houses in the postwar United States. Her most recent publication is Little White Houses: How the Postwar House Constructed Race in America

CHF Suggests      Related links and resources for further study

Leaders And Thinkers

Berry Bergdoll
Faculty page at Columbia University
Jeanne Gang
Bio at Studio Gang Architects
Dianne Harris
Faculty page at the University of Illinois

Good Reads

Frank Lloyd Wright
An overview of his life and work
The Archive Moves to New York
2012 NYT article on the FLW collection at Columbia University

Online Resources

Frank Lloyd Wright Research Guide
A guide to the collection at Columbia University