For many years, I have been working on a model of Wright’s demolished Midway Gardens. It was a huge entertainment complex in Chicago and was one of the most elaborate buildings he ever designed. Despite this, it hasn’t received much scholarly interest over the years, and I thought creating a digital model of the entire building, inside and out, would be fun and also a good piece of scholarship. Unfortunately, I’ve had to stop many times due to lack of information, and the model remains unfinished.
We had found several of the drawings for the print room online, and I started modelling, with David coming in later to do the rendering. It ended up taking more than a year. While we had many drawings for the space, several of them contradicted each other in various ways. We did not have elevations of every wall, and there was a lot of guesswork. The drawings had really been made just as a schematic design, so there were no dimensions or labels. We had to confront many problems along the way – what colors should we use? What stain should be used on the wood? Which version of the drawings was correct? Eventually we realized that several portions of the room had no artificial lighting, and we would have to add some in order to make it work – what should we use? Fortunately, we were both active on the Wright chat forum hosted by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. The members there were invaluable in pointing us in various directions and giving us example of similar projects by Wright to fill in the gaps.
Once I finished with my portion, David modeled the furniture and rendered the space. We consulted on all of the finishes, and we think that the end result is an accurate example of what the room would have been like had it been built. Hopefully by viewing our renderings, you get a sense of what could have been. Apparently the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation agrees with us; they featured our project on their blog.
Chad Solon, Project Manager