Wright focuses on simplicty for the middle class


Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art | Photo by Nancy Nolan Photography

The Bachman-Wilson House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright now resides at Crystal Bridges. The hose will open for public viewing on Nov. 11.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., recently opened to its members an opportunity to visit a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The house, known as the Bachman-Wilson House, will be available for preview to members through Nov. 9. The house will open to the public on Nov. 11.

The Bachman-Wilson House is part of Wright’s Usonian period. The word “Usonian” is an abbreviation of “United States of North America.” Wright is known for his customized homes.

However, the homes built during the Usonian period were simple, low-cost designs for the middle-class American family. Approximately 120 Usonian homes were built.

According to www.wrightinalabama.com, the Usonian period is between 1936-1958.

When walking through the house, visitors may feel like they are stepping back into the 1950s. Modern homes are known for high ceilings, amenities and square footage.

However, keeping with the thoughts of Wright, the simple design of the Usonian house gives every comfort of a modern home. This home is 1,700 square feet, and includes a living/sitting room, dining area, kitchen, three bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms.

The home was originally built for Gloria Bachman and Abraham Wilson in 1954 in New Jersey. Afterwards, it was purchased by Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino in 1988 and restored to original condition. In 2013, Crystal Bridges acquired the house.

“This was an opportunity to preserve an important example of American architecture and enhance our mission to connect visitors to art and nature,” said Rod Bigelow, executive director of Crystal Bridges in a press release. “The house also deepens the rich architectural story in our region.”

For the move to Crystal Bridges, the house was disassembled and transported 1,200 miles, arriving in northwest Arkansas in 2014. Site work and reconstruction began in fall 2014.

The house, overlooking a natural spring, is in a setting very similar to its original location along the Millstone River in New Jersey. The lawn includes 20 species of trees, shrubs and perennials mimicking the suburban style of the 1950s.

“We put great effort into upholding Frank Lloyd Wright’s design principles — he believed in connecting physically and spiritually to the natural world through the use of horizontal lines that ground the structure into the landscape and dissolve the barrier between the interior and exterior,” said Niki Stewart, chief engagement officer at Crystal Bridges.

Walking along the path to the house, visitors pass through a structure filled with images and information on Wright. Crystal Bridges, along with students and faculty from the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas, designed, developed and fabricated the Welcome Pavilion.

Fay Jones was Wright’s apprentice-turned-protégé. The collaboration provided research and practical experience for students at the University.

Both Wright and Jones challenged traditional ideas of building by connecting their structures to the topography of their environment, and these structures helped Crystal Bridges decide to incorporate the house into its natural surroundings.

“This is not the end of the narrative,” Bigelow said. “We hope that by providing viewing and educational opportunities to thousands of visitors every year, the house will inspire future generations of architecture students.”

For ticket information or to see a video of the entire process of moving the house to Crystal Bridges, visit the museum’s website at www.crystalbridges.org.