American Architecture

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 7:00pm - 10:00pm

The centerpiece of Frank Lloyd Wright's work in Buffalo, New York, is the Darwin Martin House, one of Wright's earliest designs. Photographed in May 2006, the house was built in 1904.

Credit: Courtesy of Eileen Elibol

A look at three architects whose work uniquely defines American architecture.

The evening begins with the architect whose aesthetic brought grandure to Washington D.C. in Benjamin Latrobe: America's First Architect at 7 p.m. Next we travel to 20th century rural Alabama in Citizen Architect: SamuelMockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio at 8 p.m. followed by the founder of the iconic prairie style in Frank Lloyd Wright's Buffalo at 9 p.m., Friday, August 27 on PBS World (cable 524/DT21.2).

Benjamin Latrobe: America's First Architect

Noted architecture critic Paul Goldberger hosts this documentary biography of Benjamin Latrobe, the creator of the first uniquely "American" architecture. Latrobe's tumultuous life was a series of creative triumphs, personal tragedies and constant re-invention. The film features computer-generated animation, interviews with architects and historians and location shooting as Goldberger explores Latrobe's life, from his early years in England to his immigration to the young republic and his work on such iconic buildings as the U.S. Capitol, the White House and the Baltimore Basilica.

Citizen Architect: SamuelMockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio

In 1993, the late architect and MacArthur "genius" Samuel Mockbee started the Rural Studio, a design/build program in which students create striking architecture for impoverished communities in rural Alabama. Guided by frank, passionate, never-before-seen interviews with Mockbee, the film shows how students use their creativity, ingenuity and compassion to craft a home for their charismatic, indigent client, Jimmie Lee Matthews, known as "Music Man" for his passion for soul music. The Rural Studio provides students with an experience that inspires them to consider how they can use their skills to better their communities. Interviews with Mockbee's peers and scenes with those he's influenced infuse the film with a larger discussion of architecture's role in issues of poverty, class, race, education, citizenship and social change.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Buffalo

This program tells the story of the 30-year friendship between the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Buffalo, New York businessman Darwin D. Martin, highlighting the critical role Martin and Buffalo played in Wright's early career. David Ogden Stiers narrates.

Buffalo, New York, has the unique privilege of having more Frank Lloyd Wright structures than any other city in America outside Chicago. This architectural collection is due to one man: Buffalo businessman Darwin D. Martin. The centerpiece of Wright’s work in Buffalo is one of Wright’s earliest designs, the Darwin Martin House. Built in 1904, it precedes such masterpieces as the Robie House and Fallingwater and is considered by many the finest example of Wright’s prairie house design.

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