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Frank Lloyd Wright: A Child Of The Sun

Campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida.
Campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida.
Photo by Miguel A. Sanchez

I stopped by Florida Southern College in Lakeland to walk around and see a hidden treasure here in Central Florida. This campus holds the largest collection of structures by Frank Lloyd Wright on one site (listed on the National Register of Historic Places). Its the only college campus that he designed. Construction started in the late 1930's. But, World War II affected progress and students were given tuition incentives to do the labor. When the men left for war, the women continued construction.

Campus of Florida Southern College
Photo by Miguel A. Sanchez

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), America's greatest Architect, is known to have designed over 1,000 structures and completed 532 throughout the world. As a child, his mother brought him educational blocks known as "Froebel Gifts". They were geometric shapes that, when put together, would create three dimensional figures. Frank Lloyd Wright played with these blocks for years and it is where he discovered the geometry of Architecture. He never completed a formal education but seemed driven internally to learn.

Originally from Wisconsin, he moved to Chicago in pursuit of job opportunities after the "Great Chicago Fire" of 1871. He eventually became an apprentice for Architect Louis Sullivan and was instrumental in designing the interiors of the "Auditorium Building," still one of the greatest landmarks of Chicago. Today, we see the "Prairie Style" home everywhere, another inspiration of Frank Lloyd Wright's play of Geometry.

Here on this campus, you can see how Frank Lloyd Wright used clear geometric lines to reach out and connect with the environment. Becoming one with nature was an important design principal for him. The Florida Southern College campus is called "A Child of the Sun." It was intended to look as if it was rising from the earth. A network of covered walkways extends the design while sheltering students from the elements of rain and sun, like peas on a pod. For anyone interested in turning off the beaten path of typical tourist spots, there is a visitor center, offering guided tours that can even take you inside the some of the buildings. That alone may be worth the trip.