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Ochsner, J.K. (2018). The Experience of Prospect and Refuge: Frank Lloyd Wright's Houses as Holding Environments. Am. Imago, 75(2):179-211.

(2018). American Imago, 75(2):179-211

The Experience of Prospect and Refuge: Frank Lloyd Wright's Houses as Holding Environments

Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, FAIA

I Introduction: Wright and Winnicott

William and Elizabeth Tracy were nothing if not persistent. In 1953, they wrote to Frank Lloyd Wright to request a design for their new home. They were, in a sense, “students” of Wright: at Michigan State University, Elizabeth Tracy had taken art courses from professors Alma Goetsch and Kathrine Winckler, who lived a Wright-designed house built in 1940. William Tracy had studied architecture and engineering at the University of Idaho. In summer 1952, they had traveled across the Midwest, visiting Wright buildings in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. But when they contacted the Wright office in 1953, an apprentice wrote back that Wright was too busy, the distance (to the Pacific Northwest) was too far, and their budget was too small. So they contacted a local architect, Milton Stricker, who had been a Wright apprentice. Once Stricker met the Tracys, recognized their commitment to Wright's ideas, and saw their lot overlooking Puget Sound, he agreed to help. Thus, in August 1954, when the Tracys again contacted Wright, he responded positively.

The Tracys' commitment did not end there. They proposed that the house might use the modular concrete block system that Wright had developed, which integrated design and construction; he called the system, and the houses built with it, “Usonian Automatics.”1

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