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Out and About Wright: Enhancing Wright’s Legacy in the Pacific Northwest

Known for its verdant landscape rich with mountains, lakes, rivers and Puget Sound, the Pacific Northwest has long been a preferred home for people who have an affinity for nature and has attracted artists and architects who endeavor to express a special reverence for nature. Frank Lloyd Wright’s fondness for the region began early in the 20th century as he traveled through Seattle en route to Japan. Although he had previously designed buildings for the area, the first executed Northwest commission was the Chauncey Griggs House (1946) in Tacoma, Washington. Two more buildings in Washington State—the Brandes House (1952) in Sammamish and the Tracy House (1955) in Normandy Park—followed within a decade.

Join the Conservancy on Saturday, April 5, for an all-day event that will include tours of the Wright-designed Brandes and Tracy Houses as well as several private homes by contemporary architect George Suyama. Prior to the architectural tour Grant Hildebrand, professor emeritus at the University of Washington in Seattle and author of The Wright Space, will expand on themes from his recent book, Suyama: A Complex Serenity, as he discusses the philosophical connections between Wright and Suyama. The lecture will be held at the Rem Koolhaus-designed Seattle Central Library, which in 2007 was listed as one of the 150 structures on the American Institute of Architects list of “America’s Favorite Architecture.” The day will culminate in a reception at The Orchard, a 26,000-square-foot home designed by Suyama for former Microsoft president Jon Shirley and home to his extensive collection of modern art. As described by Hildebrand, the Orchard “is a space of remarkable and pervasive complexity, yet among those who experience it, the most commonly expressed reaction is a sense of palpable serenity.”

On Friday, April 4, Conservancy Leadership Circle members and the board of directors are invited to the extraordinary lakefront house of Barney Ebsworth for an evening reception with wine provided by Conservancy sommelier Robert Volz. The home, designed by Jim Olson of Olson Kundig, houses Ebsworth’s world-class collection of 20th century American art and is comprised of three individual pavilions linked by glass-enclosed walkways. Described as both a place superbly suited to display works of art as well as being a work of art in its own right, touring the house is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a complete and harmonious integration of art, architecture and nature.

A separately ticketed architectural tour on Sunday, April 6, will take attendees south from Seattle to nearby Tacoma. Highlights of the half-day tour include the Wright-designed Griggs House, a private Suyama designed residence and the Arthur Erickson-designed Tacoma Museum of Glass, complete with bridge of glass connecting downtown Tacoma to the shore. Lunch will be provided and the bus will make a stop at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport by 2:30 p.m. before returning to Seattle.

A special group rate of $145/night is available at the Hotel Monaco Seattle, conveniently located in the heart of downtown Seattle and across the street from the Seattle Central Library. To make a reservation, call 206.621.1770 and mention the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy room block.