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Visitors to New York on the occasion of the Super Bowl — and those New Yorkers who would rather not spend the afternoon and evening glued to a TV set — can supplement their visit to the Big Apple with a lesson in urbanism from Frank Lloyd Wright, whose ideas about cities, skyscrapers, and the countryside inspired MoMA’s new architecture exhibition, Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal.

Organized to celebrate the recent joint acquisition of Wright’s archive by MoMA and Columbia University’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, the show features models and drawings of various Wright skyscraper projects. Most impressive, however, is a 1934-35 scale model of Broadacre City, the community design proposal that occupied the architect from 1932 until his 1959 death. Wright hated compact cities like New York, and he wanted to build an alternate form of dispersed settlement that was neither urban nor suburban (though some scholars and architects think that Broadacre City, if built, would have resembled the suburbs). Wright envisioned an America where each family would live on one acre of land, with nearby small-scale manufacturing, community centers, and parklands — he wanted cities, not just their residential components, but also their services, transportation, and infrastructure to expand horizontally, not vertically. Broadacre City was never built, but Wright’s model still stands in opposition to the city it now calls home. Density vs. Dispersal is on view through June 1, but a comprehensive Wright retrospective dealing with the contents of his archive is in the works at MoMA for 2017.

Anna Kats
Blouin Art Info

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