Republican Convention Set Based On Designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, Possibly With A Side Dish of Howard Roark

Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times writes that the set of the Republican Convention in Tampa is based on the designs of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

The inspiration for the set, said Jim Fenhagen, lead production designer for the convention, is Wright's residential architecture, which often featured long horizontal bands of wood-framed windows.

Design Observer/via

Hawthorne wonders if there is a whiff of Ayn Rand in this.

Wright was the chief inspiration for the headstrong architect Howard Roark, hero of Rand's 1943 novel "The Fountainhead." Romney's running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul D. Ryan, was long a devotee of Rand's Objectivist philosophy.... It was Wright's stubborn sense of individualism that made him most attractive to Rand.

The Fountainhead/Screen capture

For those who haven't read the Fountainhead or seen the movie, one of the great howlers of cinema, the climax comes when hero Howard Roark is in court, defending his right to blow up a building that he designed but that was changed by committee. Roark makes a grand speech that lays out his philosophy:

The choice is not self-sacrifice or domination. The choice is independence or dependence. The code of the creator or the code of the second-hander. This is the basic issue. It rests upon the alternative of life or death. The code of the creator is built on the needs of the reasoning mind which allows man to survive. The code of the second-hander is built on the needs of a mind incapable of survival. All that which proceeds from man’s independent ego is good. All that which proceeds from man’s dependence upon men is evil.

A humanitarian who starts with declarations of love for mankind and ends with a sea of blood. It goes on and will go on so long as men believe that an action is good if it is unselfish. That permits the altruist to act and forces his victims to bear it. The leaders of collectivist movements ask nothing for themselves. But observe the results.

“The only good which men can do to one another and the only statement of their proper relationship is—Hands off!

Hawthorne also notes that Wright, who ran off with his client's wife and was married three times, is not necessarily a great role model.

UPDATE: Mark Lamster picks up the story in the Design Observer and detects other inspirations.

But of course most Americans don't know about Wright's dubious political (or even urbanistic) ideas. And in any case they would be hard pressed to find any serious trace of Wright in the GOP set, which is comprised of overlapping screens with faux-laminate frames. The idea is that this is Wrightian because it suggests the master's use of horizontal bands of wood. Perhaps that was the inspiration, but it is now so far from the source as to be irrelevant. More accurately, the multiple screens projecting propaganda images of a great leader is derived from Soviet Constructivism, but you can be absolutely positive that no one from the GOP will be making that connection this week.

More in the LA Times, and more on the Fountainhead in ArchDaily

Tags: United States

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