Price Tower (1952)

Bartlesville, Oklahoma
HW #172

After a good 3 hour drive, we finally finished listening to the Fountainhead and arrived in Bartlesville, to Price Tower. After the design of Wingspread, Mr.Price commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design his office building (with part residential). The Price Tower mimics a tree structure, with its floors cantilevered out of the three cores, rather than the typical steel framed method used in many highrises today. The cantilevered floors allow for the absence of structural columns or walls, opening up the corners with a walls of windows. Horizontal fins were used for office spaces to diffuse direct light and vertical louvers were used for the apartment side. In the picture below, our room shows windows with horizontal fins because the room was originally an office space. The room is filled with sunlight in the mornings. Despite it being a skyscraper, the Price Tower does not have the coldness, rather, an organic feel that sits well in the context of its small town. I assume Zaha Hadid’s proposed addition for the Price Tower Arts Center has undergone much scrutiny, as all additions or modifications to great works of architecture would, but Hadid’s audacious Rhino approach just seems to overpower and contradict with the reserved planes of the Price Tower and I hope they would investigate different designs approaches. Of the five days spent here, most of the time was spent in the archives. I was intrigued when I came across a book on Paolo Soleri, an architect/philosopher from the 50’s, known for his teachings on arcology, a design principle combining architecture and ecology, striving for the creation of self sustaining cities. This serendipitous finding leads us to later visit his experimental city in the desert, Arcosanti.

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