Marking the 150th anniversary of the American architect’s birth, MoMA presented Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive, a major exhibition that critically engages his multifaceted practice. Little known is a design for a model school building for African American children, drawn up in 1928, for the Rosenwald Foundation, created by Julius Rosenwald, a co-owner of the Sears Roebuck Company in Chicago. The Rosenwald School program was conceived by Booker T. Washington and funded in part by the Rosenwald Foundation. One third or more was raised by black communities who yearned for fair and equitable schools around the South.
Wright’s design would have reorient this program of schools for the segregated south from traditional clapboard school houses to buildings as innovative in their construction methods as in their architectural style. As in all of the schools the students were intended to help build the school buildings, making hand’s on labor an integral part of education, something developed in particular in conjunction with the curriculum of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Hampton, Virginia, a teacher -training school for African Americans. As much as the design reflects Wright's progressive views on education, comments in correspondence, interviews, and letters, suggest that he still believed Black Americans, were legitimately educated apart because of what he considered innate racial differences. The project begun in 1928 never progressed beyond the schematic stage.
Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive was organized by MoMA in collaboration with the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York, and organized by Barry Bergdoll, Curator, and Jennifer Gray, Project Research Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.
Rosenwald School section curated by Mabel O. Wilson
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