Three unbuilt Frank Lloyd Wright skyscraper projects brought to life by 3D imagery | News
Three unbuilt projects by Frank Lloyd Wright have been recreated in 3D renderings by Spanish architect David Romero. Images of the high-rise schemes, located in Chicago and Washington D.C., have been published in the latest edition of the Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly, a hard-copy magazine of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
The tallest of the three, ‘The Illinois,’ remains one of Wright’s most famous unbuilt works. The mile-high skyscraper was unveiled by Wright in 1956 and would have stood four times taller than the world’s then-largest building. “The Empire State Building would be a mouse by comparison,” Wright boasted at the time.
The 528-story, 18 million-square-foot concept would have accommodated 100,000 people. Four major highways, along with rail lines and a heliport, would provide access to the building, with docking space for more than 100 aircraft and parking space for more than 15,000 cars.
Architecturally, the design was composed in a similar manner to a tree with deep roots. Above ground, an antenna-like central structure was flanked by four wing-like buttresses and cantilevered floors. Below, a 15-story deep substructure resembled an upside-down Eiffel Tower supporting the central concrete and steel core.
The second unrealized project, ‘The National Life Insurance Building,’ was also situated in Chicago. The 25-story glass tower was composed of four identical wings clad with copper panels. Unlike the historic revival towers common to Chicago in the 1920s, the National Life Insurance Building was composed of light curtain wall materials to maximize daylight and natural ventilation.
According to The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, the building would have served as a tribute by Wright to his experimental mentor Louis Sullivan. “If given the opportunity, Wright might have followed Sullivan’s example of finding creative and organic solutions to advancing the possibilities of the steel frame,” the foundation notes.
The final scheme in Romero’s series is ‘Crystal City,’ which was to be built in Washington D.C. Described by The Frank Lloyd Foundation as “an example of mixed-use development decades ahead of its time,” the development was originally intended to include a hotel, apartments, a shopping center, garages, a theater, and an auditorium.
The proposed towers were linked together in a U shape, rising between 16 and 18 stories. Unfortunately for Wright and his client Roy S. Thurman, the 260-foot height was over twice the permitted height for the site under D.C. zoning laws, putting an end to the design’s vision.