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(2018 - Winter Issue)


There is only one place on Earth where you can experience the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture—the campus of Florida Southern College (FSC).

Founded in 1883, FSC boasts 2,500 undergraduates and is the oldest four-year private college in Florida. Originally established in Orlando, the school moved multiple times before settling in Lakeland in 1922. Almost 17 years later, Frank Lloyd Wright began to construct his Academic Village on the west side of campus, designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012. His plans comprised 18 structures; only 13 were eventually completed.

True to his notions of creating organic architecture by blending nature with his designs, he said the buildings would “grow out of the ground, and into the light, a child of the sun.”

A visit to the Child of the Sun campus, the timeless moniker given to the collection of Wright’s designs at the school, immerses you in the beauty of his work and extraordinary vision. Twelve Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures on campus were built between 1941 and 1959.

The Usonian house, also designed in the 1930s and originally intended as faculty housing, was completed in 2013. The building is the centrepiece of the Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center.

After a stop at the Usonian house, take a self or guided tour of the 12 original structures gracing the campus:

•          The Water Dome, Wright’s largest designed water feature, measures 48.8 metres in diameter.

•          Watson and Fine Buildings (c. 1949) house some of the school’s administration.

•          The Thad Buckner Building (originally the E.T. Roux Library) was completed in 1946.

•          The Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, dedicated in 1941, was the first building completed. The metal grille (a modern alternative to a steeple) atop its unusual tower was later dubbed “the bicycle rack in the sky.”

•          The Danforth Chapel (c. 1955) contains Wright’s only stained-glass example in the collection of buildings.

•          The Esplanades, a copper-trimmed covered walkway, connects all of Wright’s buildings.

•          The Polk County Science Building was finished in 1958.

•          The Seminars, completed in 1942, were originally three separate buildings but were redesigned by Wright into one office building in 1958.

•          Ordway Building (originally the Industrial Arts Building) is circa 1952. Its Theatre-in-the-Round is the only one of its kind designed by Wright.

•          The campus architectural collection also includes the only Wright-designed Planetarium, completed in 1958.

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