The Noble Room

Top Five Books LLC
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“When I finished Unity Temple, I had it. I
knew I had the beginning of a great thing, a great truth in
architecture.” —Frank Lloyd Wright

Early on the morning of June 4, 1905, lightning struck the steeple of
Unity Church in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, igniting a fire that
would raze the building to the ground. The Unitarian congregation
suddenly needed a home and turned to local architect Frank Lloyd Wright
for a new approach. Thus begins the story of a watershed moment in the
career of the world's most influential architect and in the history of
twentieth-century architecture and design.

Wright’s design for Unity Temple was radical in its simplicity—a
monolithic concrete exterior—yet sublime in its detail and revolutionary
in its use of interior space. With Wright’s execution of Unity Temple,
the ideas he’d been working on and experimenting with for years were
finally brought to fruition, and modern design was born.

But it might never have happened if not for a devoted Unitarian
congregation who embraced Wright’s ideas and remained faithful to the
architect and his vision through the trials and calamities of
construction. Unity Temple, when completed in 1909, was—and still
is—considered one of the landmarks of modern architecture. Author David
M. Sokol poured more than 20 years of research into The Noble Room
and uncovers a dramatic tale—much of which turns out to be at odds with
the accepted story of how Wright himself described the process.

Anyone with an interest in architecture or in Frank Lloyd
Wright—or indeed anyone who’s ever had an addition put on to their house
or a kitchen remodeled—will be caught up in the story of the
tumultuous, chaotic creation of a modern masterpiece, which comes to
life in The Noble Room.


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About the author

David M. Sokol has had a 40-year career as a professor of art history and has taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago since 1971. He chaired the department of art history for 17 years, becoming professor emeritus in 2002. In addition to teaching and writing on American and European art and architecture, Sokol has published articles and reviews on Frank Lloyd Wright and Unity Temple. He is the author of Oak Park, Illinois: Continuity and Change. He served on the board of directors for the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation and the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Foundation, and currently serves on the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council. Sokol lives in Oak Park, Illinois.

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Additional Information

Top Five Books LLC
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Published on
Aug 31, 2011
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Architecture / Buildings / Religious
Architecture / General
Architecture / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)
Architecture / Individual Architects & Firms / General
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Le Corbusier
For the Swiss-born architect and city planner Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, 1887–1965), architecture constituted a noble art, an exalted calling in which the architect combined plastic invention, intellectual speculation, and higher mathematics to go beyond mere utilitarian needs, beyond "style," to achieve a pure creation of the spirit which established "emotional relationships by means of raw materials."
The first major exposition of his ideas appeared in Vers une Architecture (1923), a compilation of articles originally written by Le Corbusier for his own avant-garde magazine, L'Esprit Nouveau. The present volume is an unabridged English translation of the 13th French edition of that historic manifesto, in which Le Corbusier expounded his technical and aesthetic theories, views on industry, economics, relation of form to function, the "mass-production spirit," and much else. A principal prophet of the "modern" movement in architecture, and a near-legendary figure of the "International School," he designed some of the twentieth century's most memorable buildings: Chapel at Ronchamp; Swiss dormitory at the Cité Universitaire, Paris; Unité d'Habitation, Marseilles; and many more.
Le Corbusier brought great passion and intelligence to these essays, which present his ideas in a concise, pithy style, studded with epigrammatic, often provocative, observations: "American engineers overwhelm with their calculations our expiring architecture." "Architecture is stifled by custom. It is the only profession in which progress is not considered necessary." "A cathedral is not very beautiful . . ." and "Rome is the damnation of the half-educated. To send architectural students to Rome is to cripple them for life."
Profusely illustrated with over 200 line drawings and photographs of his own works and other structures he considered important, Towards a New Architecture is indispensable reading for architects, city planners, and cultural historians ― but will intrigue anyone fascinated by the wide-ranging ideas, unvarnished opinions, and innovative theories of one of this century's master builders.

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