Adapted from an article that appeared in “Carnegie Magazine” and the “Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly” by Richard Cleary, Associate Professor of Architecture at the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University.
On a visit in 1951 to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio near Scottsdale, Arizona, Aaron Green mentioned that he was planning to relocate his architectural practice to San Francisco. To his surprise, Wright suggested a joint venture.
Wright had good reason for wanting to establish a satellite office in the area. He had several houses and a store in various stages of planning or completion, and prospects were favorable for obtaining more work, including a bridge across San Francisco Bay. A local base staffed by a skilled associate would facilitate matters. For Green, the association offered a way to formalize his relationship with Wright while continuing to develop his independent practice.
On one of Wright’s subsequent trips to San Francisco, Green showed him office space recently vacated by another former member of the Taliesin Fellowship, Frederick Langhorst. Located at 319 Grant Avenue near the gateway to Chinatown, the modest, four-story building, still extant, offered easy access to Wright’s habitual hotel, the St. Francis, and to one of his recent works, the V.C, Morris Gift Shop (1949). Wright, who maintained a proprietary interest in his buildings long after their completion, liked to visit the shop and “correct” any displays or arrangements of furnishings that conflicted with his vision of the store.
The available space in the Grant Avenue building constituted the second floor and featured large windows facing the street. Wright approved it and described to Green how it should be reconfigured as their office. Green translated these ideas into a drawing which he sent to Wright, who added comments and sketched revisions, which Green followed carefully. Green and another Taliesin fellow did the construction themselves.
Wright used the office as his San Francisco base until his death in 1959. Subsequently, it was occupied by Green and as a San Francisco address for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. It was maintained by Green, who expanded his office to the building’s third and fourth floors. In 1988, Green dismantled and sold the office to the Domino’s Center for Architecture and Design in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Changed priorities made it possible for The Heinz Architectural Center to acquire the office in 1992.
West Coast Field Office for Frank Lloyd Wright