There are a number of unbuilt FLW designs being realized, through the Foundation's approval and provision of a supervising architect (usually a Wright apprentice). Buffalo herself has two more. Given Wright's notorious control over a project, his attention to detail, and the site-specific nature of his projects, can we say that the building of an unbuilt design is really a 'Wright'? Or, given Wright's embrace of modern technologies and talent for self-promotion, would he himself approve of the idea of his works being created long after his death? It should be noted that in the case of the Fontana Boathouse, Wright made drawings after the turn of the century, revised them for a concrete building in 1929-30, and had a model constructed for his European speaking tour. Detailed plans were never made, leaving much of the project a matter of interpretation. Also, the building is unique in that it is his only Prairie Style work with a flat roof. Once the Foundation permits* a design to be used, that design is 'retired'. It all goes back to a question of ontology -- is this boathouse a 'real' Frank Lloyd Wright? Which elements of the process and construction need to be present to make a building one of his? Is it enough to use old drawings to say that it is a Frank Lloyd Wright work, or is it merely a 'Wright-inspired' building, or realized model? We may see parallels in the cases of the building of Da Vinci's machines or 'completing' an unfinished work of Mozart. Some Philosophy for a Monday morning... *The Foundation, as I understand, owns the copyright on FLW's drawings, but not the design as such, which presents interesting legal questions in addition to the ontological ones -- if the Foundation's 'approval' is necessary to the process, or if simply using the design is enough to make it a Wright.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Boathouse: a Case Study in the Ontology of Art. In 2000, three rowers from Buffalo's West Side Rowing Club sought the approval of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation for the construction of Wright's design for a boathouse, and it was realized last year. But a new Frank Lloyd Wright building raises some interesting questions -- when is it a FLW building, and when is it a reasonable facsimile thereof? What is needed to make a building a FLW?