larkin building
larkin building
drawings
exterior
interior
critical response
parallel movements
wright at the time
other works
larkin building: drawings
larkin building

An Autobiography
By Frank Lloyd Wright

he Larkin Building was the first emphatic protestant in architecture. Yes—it was the first emphatic outstanding protest against the tide of meaningless elaboration sweeping the United States as Uncle Dan Burnham, calling it by a different name, had prophesied it would do. The United States were being swept into one grand rubbish heap of the acknowledged styles, instead of intelligently and patiently creating a new architecture.

The Larkin Administration Building was a simple cliff of brick hermetically sealed (one of the first “air-conditioned” buildings in the country) to keep the interior space clear of the poisonous gases in the smoke from the New York Central trains that puffed along beside it.

It was built of masonry material—brick and stone; and in terms of the straight line and flat plane the Larkin Administration Building was a genuine expression of power directly applied to purpose, in the same sense that the ocean liner, the plane or the car is so. And it’s only fair to say that it has had a profound influence upon European architecture for this reason.

The character and brutal power as well as the opportunity for beauty of our own age were coming clear to me. In fact I saw then as now that they are all one. I saw our own great chance in this sense still going to waste on every side. Rebellious and protestant as I was myself when the Larkin Building came from me, I was conscious also that the only way to succeed, either as rebel or as protestant, was to make architecture genuine and constructive affirmation of the new Order of this Machine Age.

top of page