By Robert Plunket
Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie discuss local Frank Lloyd Wright architecture on TV.
If you have friends and relatives visiting this week, or just have a little time off for yourself, here’s a great day trip you might want to consider: the quick, one-hour drive over to Lakeland to check out the amazing Frank Lloyd Wright architecture at Florida Southern College.
Florida Southern was a small Methodist college led by an educational pioneer named Ludd Spivey. Back in the 1930s he got the idea of having America’s greatest architect design a new campus in the orange groves overlooking Lake Hollingsworth. Wright consented, and over the next 20 years he designed a grouping of 10 or so buildings: two chapels, a library, a science center, several administration buildings, etc. It is the only grouping of buildings the master ever designed, and they are all linked by several miles of covered esplanades (which are, by the way, so low-ceilinged the basketball team scrape their heads when they walk along them.)
What makes the campus so much fun to visit is the enormous variety of Wrightian styles and references. The library is round, the chapels have soaring wings and complex interiors, and the Fine Building really is fine. Most of the building use Wright’s famous custom-designed concrete blocks, which the scholarship students made themselves to help pay their tuition.