Tour Frank Lloyd Wright's architectures : Gammage Memorial Auditorium
(Phoenix, Arizona, USA)

Another work built after the death of Frank Lloyd Wright is the Gammage Memorial Auditorium of Arizona State University.

In 1959, Wright was commissioned to design it by Grady Gammage who was the dean in those days and his friend. But he could not see the completion in 1964. Now, the auditorium seats 3000 people and the musical comedy or music program is performed, but I could not visit the inside since it was not opened except the day of the performance.

The first impression of the exterior appearance was a huge confectionary.

The colonnade with fan-shaped headdress surrounds the main body with gourd type plan, and two pedestrian bridges stretch the arm to connect the auditorium with a parking lot. Wright explained that the bridge was an architectural expression of "Welcome to Arizona State University".

In the evening when I visited, the orange-colored painting of the exterior wall and the exposed red brick synchronized with the setting sun and shined in orange since the facade visible from the main street faces the west. Wright would consider the effect of the setting sun?

The fan-shaped headdress and the lightings like an intertwined ivy on the bridge are very Wright-like but a little insipid. It must be attribute to that the form is too simple and the elements like colonnade and window are a repetition of the same design. The exterior wall is also monotonous and expressionless. If there were a portion and a fine detail which disturb a rule, the impression would be different.

In a friendly way, its bigness and simplicity of the architecture is interpreted to have reflected the vague scale of the landscape that the building stands in the center of a vast parking lot lonely. But, I suppose that, under the situation that the architect himself passed away, the persons concerned avoided to design a detail which is hard for other architect to decide and might cause controversy.

I had this comment after I walked only around the exteiror of the buolding. As long as I saw the lobby pushing the face to the window, I could not discover something to give a different impression. But, if explored inside in detail, I might find many fine details to deny my first impression.

It seems to be a bad joke now that this architecture was originally planned as the opera house in Baghdad of Iraq. Those days, probably the United States and Iraq were in an intimate relationship. But, according to the change of the relationship between both countries, the architecture also wandered from Baghdad to Phoenix. The result that it was realized at a place different from the first concept would not generate a feeling that something is wrong ?

To tell the truth, too sweet confectionary always gives me heartburn.

To Japanese Version

Google Maps

15 minutes by car from downtown Phoenix.
25 minutes by LRT fromdowntown Phoenix to Mills Avenue station then 15 mintes' walk.

Graddy Gammage Memorial Auditorium

City of Phoenix
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"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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Gammage Memorial Auditorium (1964)

Photo by Daigo Ishii