Tour Frank Lloyd Wright's architectures :
First Christian Church
(Phoenix, Arizona, USA)

Among the big projects by Frank Lloyd Wright in Phoenix, two were built after his death.

When, on Sunday morning, I visited the First Christian Church which was one of two, worship was just going to start.

I regarded the church as belonging to a religious sect deriving from Catholic since the photo of the exterior appearance and interior gave an impression of Sacrament, but worship defied my prediction.

There was no heavy air among attendants and, as soon as a pastor went through a preach, men with an electric guitar went up to a stage and began to sing the countryfolk style's hymn with a nice feel. Unlike an old hymn and gospel, it had a positive music tone as if they had traveled in a highway leisurely and original sin or atonement had been likely to be evaporated by the wind during the journey. I was likely to clap to the rhythm and the attendants did swing and began to sing together.

I investigated the doctrine of this religious sect but could not find it. However, in the worship, I felt an air of the transpicuous new group. It must have been not the Catholic since there was no altar where the Christ or the Mary statue was deified.

Wright planned the church for a theological college his later years and, in 1970 after his death, the member of the First Christian Church worked on the Wright Foundation to use the plan for their church.

It is said that the triangular plan symbolizes the Trinity. The design with contrast between low eaves and a strong pinnacle, the stained glass repeated like a kaleidoscope, the ceiling which shines golden dully and the wall that embedded the rock are dramatic and often clothe the sign of mysticism.

Meanwhile, the pulpit as the most important focus is located at the place where natural light doesn't enter enough and the height of the ceiling is low. So, the pulpit seemed to be treated curtly and I had doubt about whether it was planned there originally.

Although the church is surrounded with a spacious lawn, the site in a dense residential area gives me uneasy feeling. Wright displayed his real ability for an architecture to be situated in a rich suburban residential area full of nature or just in the nature. The original site of this church was also a suburb of Phoenix more closely with the nature, Glendale.

My frank impression was that the church had a gap between the space and the doctrine as well as mismatching of how to usethe space. That must be because the architecture was planned for a different sect in a different site.

The quality of the architecture was fine and believers were proud of the church by Wright according to the talk of a believer who explained me the highlight kindly. Regardless of what period and where from, a religious architecture had lived through two senses of values, that is, the first one that an architecture expressed the religion view and the second one that the spatial effect was utilized to acquire a new believer. So, as for the acquisition of a believer, this architecture seems to bring success, meanwhile, as for the doctrine, an architecture, where the natural light pours down and the space opens to the outdoors, seems to be more matched.

How would Wright evaluate this church which was realized by an adaptation without his decision ?

To Japanese Version

Google Maps

20 minutes by car or 30 minutes by bus from downtown Phoenix.

First Christian Church

City of Phoenix
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Motel 6

Maricopa Manor B & B Inn

"建築ガイドブックーフランク・ロイド・ライト" (Arlene Sanderson、水上優訳、丸善、2008)

2018.01 Photos and text in English version and Japanese version


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First Christian Church (1972) 

Photo by Daigo Ishii