Saving Wright’s Florida Southern College

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Following up on the World Monuments Fund‘s “100 Most Endangered Sites” list last week, the Orlando Sentinel has an interesting piece up about one of the 100 in their own backyard: the crumbling Frank Lloyd Wright structures at Florida Southern College (“the largest single-site collection of his work in the world.”). After years of deterioration and a lack of money to make vital repairs, the buildings looked all but lost until the list was released. Now, due to the WMF listing, things are turning around, including architect Jeff Baker trying to get nearly $200,000 from the Gehry Foundation to patch things up. Here’s a bit:

Wright was known for his use of natural and indigenous materials in his designs. For Florida Southern’s structures, he designed textile blocks from Florida sand, coquina shell and cement. However, budget limitations affected production.

“Originally, they had students making these blocks so the quality control was spotty at best,” said Jeff Baker, a restoration architect who is studying the campus. “Coquina shell is a very soft material.”

The blocks proved to be too porous over the years, and water has caused many of them to crumble and loosen. The rebar holding up Wright’s geometric walkways is exposed in places.