Broadacre City- a proposed design
According to Wikipedia, Broadacre City was an urban or suburban development concept proposed and presented by Frank Lloyd Wright in his book The Disappearing City in 1932 and throughout most of his lifetime. Some years later he revealed a precisely detailed twelve by twelve foot scale model representative of a proposed four square mile community. Financed by Edgar Kaufmann and crafted by his Taliesin student interns, it was a bold exhibit and expression of his life and living design. It was initially shown at an Industrial Arts Exposition in the Forum at Rockefeller Center starting on April 15, 1935.
At the conclusion of the New York exposition, Kaufmann, a proponent of Wright’s work with nature and her beauty, arranged to have the model exhibited in Pittsburgh at an exposition titled “New Homes for Old”, backed by the Federal Housing Administration. The exposition began on June 18 on the 11th floor of Kaufmann’s store.
Over his life, Wright was to refine the living concept in later sketches, books and articles up until his death in 1959. As with all of his concepts, living nature was integrated with the project design.
Numerous of the building models in the concept were completely new designs by Wright, while others were enhancements of rarely seen old ones. The slide show includes some of these design sketches.
The Plan- Frank Lloyd Wright & his Broadacre City design
Mark Pimlott, in his book Without and within: Essays on territory and the interior (Episode Publishers: Rotterdam) says Frank Lloyd Wright exposed his approach to the problems of the American city and territory in the midst of New Deal programs, Pimlott says his hypothetical project for Broadacre City (1935-1950s), presented a living vision of a territory-wide, middle-class commuter suburb, with features spread across a territorial grid, that symbolic realm of the homestead life and American independence living mythically cleaved from nature and hostile strangeness that had held for seventy years. Wright’s vision, Pimlott says, was in contradiction of the ideology of the New Deal programs at that time.
Pimlott proposed that Wright’s idea should be considered as both a criticism of regionalism as Public space as experienced in European cities, and implied by the Regional Planning Association of America, and was absent in Wright’s scheme.
Instead, Wright envisioned and modeled “palaces” of shopping, entertainment and culture that were to be clustered in massive buildings contiguous to motorways as regional amenities, similar to the shopping malls which appeared across the United States from the late 1950s.
A newly born suburbia life with nature
Pimlott continues describing Broadacre City as…..
………. the antithesis of a city and the apotheosis of the newly born suburbia, shaped through Wright’s particular vision.
………..It was both a planning statement and a socio-political scheme by which each U.S. family would be given a one acre plot of land from the federal lands reserves, and a Wright-conceived community would be built anew from this.
………..it was the exact opposite of transit-oriented development. There is a train station and a few office and apartment buildings in Broadacre City, but the apartment dwellers are expected to be a small minority. All important transport is done by automobile and the pedestrian can exist safely only within the confines of the one acre plots where most of the population dwells.
Wright was truly a futurist
Wright anticipated that his model for the perfect community in nature would most likely never truly be built to his terms. He understood that possibly America was too damaged to recover from the squalor of the city; too sightless to the potentials of what he envisioned as a better way of life.
We acquired what he predicted: cars; sprawl; gas stations. Cities as varied as Houston and Los Angeles and Janesville, Wisconsin are in some ways forms of Wright’s Broadacre dream. Nonetheless in the end, for better and for worse, America never saw the rise of that architect king Wright dreamed of through his Broadacre City concept.
Frank Lloyd Wright Quotes about the Broadacre City
The three major inventions already at work building Broadacres are: 1. The motor car: general mobilization of the human being; 2. Radio, telephone and telegraph: electrical communication becoming complete; 3. Standardized machine-shop production: machine invention plus scientific discovery.
The three inherent rights of any man are: 1. His social right to a direct medium of exchange in place of gold as a commodity: some form of social credit; 2. His social right to his place on the ground as he has had it in the sun and the air: land to be held only by use and improvements; 3. His social right to the ideas by which and for which he lives: public ownership of invention and scientific discoveries that concern the life of the people.
The only assumption made by Broadacres as ideal is that these rights will be the citizens’. So I have called it a new freedom for living in America.
In Broadacres, by elimination of cities and towns, the present curse of petty and minor officialdom, government, has been reduced to one minor government for each county..