Check out This New Frank Lloyd Wright Building: Canada Brings FLW Back To Life

By Annette Barlow August 18, 2016
Courtesy JOHN AMARANTIDES/Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

What if someone were to tell you that all you had to do to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s newest construction was scoot up to Canada? You’d think they were deranged, right? FLW passed away before the 60’s even began swinging, and alas, time travel is not yet a serious option.

Related: Remember Frank Lloyd Wright’s old car showroom on 430 Park Ave.? Us Either, But It Deserves A Look

Well, it’s not as crazy as it sounds: indeed, Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Banff Park Pavilion—originally built in 1914—is due to be rebuilt in the Canadian town of, you guessed it, Banff, after months of campaigning by the Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative (FLWRI). In Spring of 2016, six of the seven members of the Banff City Council granted permission to the FLWRI to resurrect the iconic building, as long as they secure the millions of dollars they’ll need for the project.

The pavilion—a board and batten construction—was designed by the renowned architect in 1911, in partnership with his only Canadian student, Francis Conroy Sullivan, and was intended to function as a recreational area for visitors to the Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. But just a year after construction was completed in 1913, WWI broke out, and the building was recommissioned for use as a quartermaster’s store house by the Department of National Defense.

Built on swampy ground near the banks of the Bow River, the structure was prone to flooding, and by 1939, just 24 years after it was built, it had sustained so much water damage that the decision was made to tear it down. Visible ruins remained well into the 60’s, before they too sunk beneath the marshy ground.

So, why are this band of FLW devotees so intent on reconstructing a building that was so precariously built in the first place?

“Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the greatest creative geniuses of all time,” explains documentarian and FLWRI co-founder Michael Miner. And, given the “outpouring of interest” the group have already received, it would seem that architecture buffs and the general public are keen to see the pavilion return to its original purpose.

Rendered in Lloyd Wright’s trademark Prairie School style—a style that began to shift modernism towards a more organic architectural mode, creating a dialogue between form and function, man-made and natural—the pavilion was one of only two FLW sites erected in the country. Its cantilevered roof, wood-and-stone construction, walls of leaded glass and cobblestone fireplaces have proved to be stylistic rarities in Canada.

Related: Five Frank Lloyd Wright Houses You Can Rent

You also can’t deny the impact this will have on the town of Banff itself. Already a cultural hub (it’s home to Banff Center for Creative Arts, the team behind the globally popular Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival), the pavilion’s rebirth will provide an unexpected mecca for FLW fans. It will also serve to strengthen the town’s commitment to preserving and protecting landmarks of historical significance through the Banff Registry of Recognized Heritage Resources.

As confident as the Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative are of finding the resources to push ahead with the project (you can donate directly through their website), it will take some years to reach the construction stage, although a suitable location has already been found. And with its jaw-dropping view of the Rocky Mountains, we see no reason not to book our train ticket pronto.

Annette Barlow



Annette is freelance editor, sub-editor, journalist and proofreader with a fierce love of all things feminist, food and music. She is a regular fixture on the arts, culture and feature desks at The Guardian, and her words have appeared on NME, Great British Chefs, The Fly, The Line of Best Fit and Australian Times.

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