Frank Lloyd Wright’s Local Masterpiece

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Frank Lloyd Wright is known for designing over 1,000 structures ranging from offices, schools, and churches by using organic shapes, unique structures and natural light in his designs. A few notables include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City and Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest American architects and we’re lucky enough to have a collection of his magnificent pieces right here in Lakeland.

During the Great Depression, FSC’s President Ludd Spivey & Wright teamed up to make the campus of Florida Southern College one of the most beautiful in the nation and boy did they ever. The university is the largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture in the world with 10 buildings and 2 structures included. We’ve put together five of our favorite designs that we think are a total must see.

1. Annie Pfeiffer Chapel

The building that best showcases Wright’s talents on FSC’s campus is the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel. The chapel was actually constructed by FSC students in 1938 and was the first completed Wright structure on campus. It can be seen from almost any point on campus because of the hill it sits on. The outside of the building is made up of many different geometric shapes and the inside is sprinkled with colored glass insets that create a warm environment.

2. Water Dome

One of Wright’s most notable works is the Water Dome located outside the Roux Library. It is a more recent and beautiful addition to Wright’s architecture on campus and ties everything together. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see it in action, bringing Wright’s water ‘dome’ idea to life with fountain jets.

Credit: Florida Southern College

3. Thad Buckner Building

While under construction during World War II, the building was put together when manpower and steel were both hard to come by. Female students built it in exchange for tuition waivers! This building was originally the E. T. Roux Library, but now it is used for events and as a meeting space. The building is circular with the main focal point being the center of the building. Much of the interior is original with furnishings designed by Wright himself.

Credit: Rogerio Machado

4. The Esplanades

These unusually short covered walkways wind all around campus, connecting buildings and protecting anyone under them from the frequent Florida rains. The esplanades were built to be the thread that bound Wright’s separate building designs together. The low ceilings are due to Wright’s short stature and the walkway is only 6 foot eight 8 inches high for most of its length.

5. The Seminars

Located to the right of the Water Dome, the Seminars are currently known as one building, but at one point it was three separate designs. The Carter, Walbridge and Hawkins Seminar were three different buildings with breezeways that connected them. After FSC opened, they decided to combine the buildings to create one large administration building.

Stop at Florida Southern College any time and take a look around at Wright’s legacy. The Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center offers five different tours on campus, ranging in price from $7 to $55. It also holds a gift shop containing Wright memorabilia like puzzles, mugs, and jewelry items licensed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation based on Frank Lloyd Wright designs. We hope this guide inspires you to take a breath of fresh air and learn about this little piece of Lakeland history. Grab a Swan City Bike and explore!

Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture by Aaron Marsh from YLakeland on Vimeo.