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unity temple: drawings
unity temple
An Autobiography
By Frank Lloyd Wright

ow Unity Temple and the Buffalo dwellings of D. D. Martin and W. R. Heath came into work at Oak Park.

Several invitations to submit work in competition came along also. But no matter how promising the program nor how many promises were made I steadily refused to enter a competition. I have refused ever since.

The world has gained no building worth having by competition because: (1) The jury itself is necessarily a hand-picked average. Some constituency must agree upon the jury. (2) Therefore the first thing this average does as a jury, when picked, is to go through all the designs and throw out the best ones and the worst ones. This is necessary in order that the average may average upon something average. (3) Therefore any architectural competition will be an average upon an average by averages in behalf of the average. (4) The net result is a building well behind the times before it is begun.

This might seem democratic if mediocrity is democratic ideal in architecture. No. Competitions are only opportunity for inexperienced youth to air precocious propensity.

Moreover, to further vitiate the competitive objective every architect entering any competition does so to win the prize. So he sensibly aims his efforts at what he conceives to be the common prejudices and predilections of the jury. Invariably the man who does this most accurately wins the competition.

A competition was first thought of for Unity Temple, but the idea was abandoned and the commission was given to me after much hesitation and debate among the committee.

© Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

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