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Comments Posted 07.08.09 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Mark Lamster

Architecture for Sale (Wright vs. Johnson)


ennis farney

On the left, Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House (1924) in the Hollywood Hills, on the market for $15 million. On the right, Philip Johnson's Farney House (1946) in Sagaponack, on the market for $35 million. The Ennis is one of the glories of Wright's textile block period. The Farney, which has been expanded considerably, was in its original form an elegant beach house perched on the Hamptons dunes. One doesn't generally associate Johnson with modesty, and the $35 million price tag certainly isn't, but this was a simple structure, really just a pair of cedar-sided wings connected via a living room and an open breezeway. Wright and Johnson had a stormy relationship marked by mutual necessity, professional jealousy, and a sense of admiration that was largely uni-directional. Wright is justly more celebrated. Johnson, however, had his moments. Given the choice (and the extra $20 million) I'd rather live in the Farney. Of course, I'm a New Yorker.
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Mark Lamster is the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture. A contributing editor to Architectural Review, he is currently at work on his third book, a biography of the late architect Philip Johnson. Follow: @marklamster.
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