Crystal Bridges New Addition with Help of U of A Students

By: Megan Bedenikovic

Crystal Bridges Art Museum just opened a new display and it’s bringing in people from all over the country.  The exhibit is a reconstruction of Frank Lloyd Wright’s House.  The exhibit focuses on unique architecture, but mainly inspired by Fay Jones.  Jones is an Arkansas native and was originally motivated by Frank Lloyd Wright himself.

“It seemed to make sense because of the connection with Fay Jones,” Beth Bobbitt, a spokesperson for Crystal Bridges, said.

Jones also inspired the original designer of Crystal Bridges, Moshe Safdie.

“There are these layers of connection and opportunities for education around that,” Bobbitt said.

Education played a huge part in this project.  While the inspiration of the house and the pavilion came from architects Wright and Jones, the fabrications of the well-liked pavilion are from none other than U of A students.

“It’s in line with Frank Lloyd Wright philosophy.  He wanted people to be practitioners, he wanted them not only to design the building, but also use their hands and pick up a hammer and nail and get involved in the construction,” Bobbitt said.

That’s exactly what U of A students did.  They put in long nights and countless hours to fabricate the designs.

“It was a natural fit,” Bobbitt said.

These scholars were inspired not only by Wright and Jones, but by the professor who taught them through the development of the pavilion.

“It was really wonderful to see that whole process emerge,” Santiago Perez, the leader for the project, said.

Perez spend multiple semester working with these undergraduates to put together the unique pavilion.

“There was a lot of grinding and cutting and bending.  And for the most part it was all hand cut and hand assembled,” Perez said.

He’s satisfied with his own work, but mostly proud of his students.

“We were able to see the things that everyone had worked on for so long actually being assembled on site and everyone was really thrilled to see that happen,” Perez said.

The final product is incredibly admired by Crystal Bridges members, but the process wasn’t all easy-going.

“After the museum had a chance to look at these models, they recognized that it made a lot more sense to face the openings and glass towards the museum,” Perez said.

Once all of the models were put together, the students didn’t stop at designing the piece.  They also built it.  They constructed everything in a shed on campus.

“We wanted to make sure everything fit together before we brought it out on site,” Perez said.

Bobbitt added that the finished product of the pavilion exemplifies exactly what Wright would have created with modern architecture.

“He would be very pleased with how the students were able to contribute to one of his projects,” she said.

Perez said his students were enthusiastic to get the opportunity to work on this project and are thankful for the doors it will, and has already, opened for their futures.


Photo Courtesy: Crystal Bridges Art Museum

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