Ayad Rahmani has been named a member of the board of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.
The conservancy works to preserve works designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, considered to be the most important American architect. Wright developed more than 1000 designs for buildings over a prolific 70-year career and has had a significant influence on American culture, living, and design. The board includes about a dozen members from a variety of backgrounds, including historians, owners of Frank Lloyd Wright homes, and scholars.
Rahmani, an associate professor in the School of Design and Construction who has been teaching at WSU since 1997, was invited to join the board after conducting research and publishing papers in a Frank Lloyd Wright research journal. He is finishing a book on the connection between Wright and the American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, who led the 19th century transcendentalist movement. The book was recently contracted by Louisiana State University and is due out next fall.
“I come to the table not as a historian but as an interpreter of Wright and what he stands for,” Rahmani said. “I’m seeking to preserve more than just the bricks, stone and mortar.”
Wright is considered a great American architect, but he was often antagonistic toward America and its architecture. Rahmani’s book addresses Wright’s architecture as an agent of intellectual and mental change.
“He felt that America was going the wrong direction — and not just a little bit,” he said. “He felt that the ship had almost derailed and we’re about to sink. The question was ‘how do you bring us back on track?’” and he thought that architecture could contribute in some ways.”
Wright’s buildings and designs were meant to try to advance a mission and vision for American culture, says Rahmani. Broadacre City, which was an urban development planning concept that Wright developed, for instance, proposed a new society and tried to tackle societal issues, such as social and economic equity; the role of agriculture and food security; education and its relationship to other institutions; and homelife.
“What he took from Emerson was the idea that you really need to change your mindset — It’s not just simply about building cool buildings and hoping for the best,” he said. “So we can look at that intervention and very much use it as a launching pad to address concerns that we’re facing today.”
Rahmani will serve on the board for a three-year term.