Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Heard Sam Gard speak on Saturday at the University of Chicago Humanities Weekend on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Midway Gardens. Sam’s an old sweetheart, a master tradesman and a brilliant resource on all things having to do with Chicago architecture. I heard him speak last year at the same event on early modernist Hugh Garden, and he was tremendously insightful and informative.

Gard was a little off his game this last weekend – spent a bit too much time crushing on Alfonso Iannellii’s contribution to the project (in summation: Iannellii designed a whole lot of gorgeous Sprites for Midway Gardens – one of which you can see in the Chicago Art Institute – they were all masterful, lovely anthropomorphizations of architectural columns. Sweet. Now let’s move on, Sam – ‘cause we’ve been looping on this for two hours).

But Gard did mention Wright’s theory of interpenetration, which I’m sure is old hat for true students of architecture but hit this dilettante like a ton of bricks – lovely long low-lying prairie-style bricks, of course, but a ton of bricks nonetheless – because it revealed so much about Wright’s architecture, and also gave me a gorgeous metaphor for the thing I’ve been trying to put my finger on for a while.

Interpenetration refers to the intersection of two forms in space – creating, in their meeting, a third space – and harmonizing the whole.


Like that thing that happens when you hang out with a dear friend – where sympathy is a given and not a chore -- and you carve out a new place in space and time that could not have happened if you hadn’t encountered each other just then and consented to the interpenetration of minds and time and concerns.

A new construction dependent upon the elective proximity of its supporting forms.


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