City Commissioners Commit $500,000 Toward Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Tourism and Education Center
LAKELAND, Fla. (June 21, 2010) -- The Lakeland City Commission today unanimously voted to commit $500,000 over the next five years to help Florida Southern College build the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Tourism and Education Center. The Center, a Usonian house that Wright intended as faculty housing, will be the first Wright-designed building to be built for an original client on the original site since 1966.
At the City Commission meeting, FSC president Dr. Anne Kerr said, "We want to become Florida's leading cultural tourism destination."
The College already is host annually to more than 30,000 national and international visitors who come to Florida Southern to tour the world's largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, including his only planetarium and only theater-in-the-round. With a visitors center to enhance the experience, conservative estimates are that the number of visitors will rise to 100,000 annually, contributing $10 million to the local economy.
City Commissioner Don Selvage said he supports the project because "We are not making a donation. We are making an investment."
The $2 million project already has received a $1 million commitment from the Polk County Commission, and the College has secured an additional $40,000 in private gifts.
During the architect's nearly 20-year relationship with the College, from 1939 to 1958, Wright designed 18 structures for the campus, 12 of which were built. Among the plans left on the drawing board was a Usonian house design meant to serve as inexpensive faculty housing. Designed to control costs, Wright's Usonian houses which he intended to be built in a distinctly American style that was affordable for the middle class had no attics, no basements, and little ornamentation. "Usonian" is an acronym for United States of North America.