Tracing ideas — FLW & the Ho-o-den pavilion

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As a once-upon-a-time Architectural History student in Chicago, my intrigue in how ideas are influenced, morph, then influence others has often been grounded in architectural inspirations. One such example is the manner that Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) was influenced by Asian art, notably the Ho-o-den Pavilion of the 1893 World Expo in Chicago.

There’s plenty of detail on the web about FLW’s subsequent life as an Asian art collector, but I’m more interested here in the moment of influence.

Many believe that Wright’s Prairie style was largely influenced by his exposure to the Japanese Ho-o-den (Phoenix) pavilion as it was built in preparation for the Chicago fair: “Karr writes that the young architect, just 26 years old, had a ‘revelation’ upon seeing the Ho-o-den that led him to explore new paths” (Link).

As we throw ourselves into the age of the Internet and acquire expansive rather than concrete world events to point to — will we become better or worse at identifying these moments of inspirational confluence?

How a Set of Rediscovered 19th-Century Japanese Doors Leads to Frank Lloyd Wright

Author: Clair Voon, Hyperallergic



A scaled-down replica of an ancient wooden temple in Uji, near Kyoto, the Phoenix Pavilion adopted a symmetrical, cruciform plan and was actually meant to represent the mythological bird: a two-storied central hall signified the body while the right and left colonnades, the wings; a corridor at the back, accordingly, formed its tail. Wright’s own early Prairie rooms reflected this plan, reducing the established complex, boxy interiors at the turn of the century into expansive and fluid ones.
Ho-o-den Pavilion. Public Domain,