The scope of Frank Lloyd Wright's design work is immense. From furniture to Broadacre cities, villas to door handles, Wright seemingly had a solution for everything--and they usually came in the form of splendidly rendered, perhaps, overly wrought craftsmanship of a high moral quality and urgency required by his singular vision. His work is well-documented, having long been etched into America's historical fabric. But did you know that the architect designed a gas station, let alone spent a significant amount of man hour exploring service station prototypes?
The R.W. Lindholm Service Station in Cloquet, Minnesota was built in 1959, according to Wright's designs but not under his supervision (he was held up in New York with the construction of the Guggenheim Museum). Wright inscribed the filling station typology in grand terms, going so far as to likening the gas station as "the future city in embryo." Given its symbiotic relationship with the car, that progenitor of new landscapes of a distinctly American impulse, the service station would "naturally grow into a neighborhood distribution center, meeting-place, restaurant ... or whatever else is needed." His designs called for the use of hanging pumps which dropped down from the ceiling, and he did not so much as wince when he described them as "udders" feeding vehicles with "mother's milk."
There are many reasons why few of these "authored" gas stations exist today (unless you live in Italy or California, that is). When it was built, Wright's station cost $20,000, nearly four times the amount of the average double-bay station. It's needless to say that Wright's vision of the gas station as social anchor of suburbia failed--no one wants to spend time socializing at a gas station, bragging about their children's accomplishments and drinking bad coffee as the smell of petrol wafts through the air. And as we move into the post-oil age, we have finally begun to reevaluate the role of the car in our cities, realizing that cars must be designed for the city and urban environment and not the other way around.
[via The Atlantic]