Frank Lloyd Wright: Sprawl Is Good

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Wed, 2006-02-01 00:55

"Urban sprawl is one of the greatest enemies of good urban design," say some. I don't agree. Lack of choice created by a lack of freedom is the greatest enemy -- 'sprawl' gives people choices: the alternative is mandatory slums. Frank Lloyd Wright's 1932 concept of the 'Broadacre City' -- while somewhat nebulous, and by no means a libertarian vision; it includes for example the idea of benevolent architectural dictators -- shows at least that sprawl is not the enemy. Lack of choice, and lack of imagination are. Wright's concept of the 'disappearing city' represented an abundance of choices of how to live.

"Wright's pattern is closer to today's sprawl than it is to a city, but it is not the same as today's sprawl."

There should be as many kinds of houses as there are kinds of people and as many differentiations as there are different individuals. A man who has individuality (and what man lacks it?) has a right to its expression in his own environment. Wright 1908

[The houses in Broadacre City] would be especially suited in plan and outline to the ground, where they would make more of gardens and fields and nearby woods than now, insuring perpetual unity in variety. Wright 1932, 8-9

And here's something exciting: the good people at Columbia University have put together a series of very impressive digital images and movies of the Tower in a setting that includes some of Frank's other 'Usonian' designs. Visit and download, and live in Frank's world for a few minutes: Introduction, Images, short movie, longer movie. Read here about Frank's 'Broadacre City' concept - everything the planners hate -- and for Frank's own drawings which he prepared to indicate what such a place might be like, go here, and then scroll down past the sc-fi and Buckminster Fuller pictures. The concept sketches are almost a 'stamp album' of Wright designs.

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Hi Peter,I'll try to

Andrew Bissell's picture

Hi Peter,

I'll try to remember and always use full HTML from now on, there's really no reason not to. But if you'd like to put a note at the top of any articles that need it, as a reminder, we can always edit it out.

As far as pictures go, it looks like your blog host doesn't allow linking from outside sites (I still can't see 'em). You might try hosting the pictures at instead, I've found their service works very well.

Pictures fixed

Peter Cresswell's picture

Aha. Articles submitted with the 'Full HTML' option need to be republished with that option in order to make the formatting work properly. Any idea how we can ensure that happens?


Peter Cresswell's picture

If you want the pictures to this article that serve to demonstrate Wright's point that Urban sprawl dos not have to be an enemy of good urban design, I'm afraid you'll have to go to my blog post to see and enjoy them.

Without them, I'm afraid this piece here is a little like whistling in the wind without even a hint of a tune. :-/

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