While as a college senior I have yet to experience office culture personally, I hope to join the ranks of the gainfully employed soon (fingers crossed). And, seeing that this is officially ‘Boss’s Day,' I thought it appropriate to look at the evolution of the modern American office building. It turns out that Frank Lloyd Wright and our dearly demolished Larkin building have an important place in this history.
In fact, many cite the Larkin Administration building (
To keep the interior space free from the pollution of passing New York Central trains, the building was hermetically sealed and provided with one of the first primitive air-conditioning systems. Wright’s attention to integrated detail extended to the design of the steel furniture, the first ‘system’ furniture and the built-in cabinets that lined the walls.
Years later, Wright would ruminate on the significance of the Larkin building, not only to his career, but to the way that companies organized themselves:
“It is interesting that I, an architect supposed to be concerned with the aesthetic sense of the building, should have invented the wall-hung for the w.c. (easier to clean under), and adopted many other innovations like the glass door, steel furniture, air-conditioning and radiant or 'gravity heat.' Nearly every technological innovation used today was suggested in the
For better or worse, Wright's innovations led to the advent of the cubicle in 1965 (Robert Propst, the inventor of the cubicle, has since apologized for his often bemoaned creation). Despite this retraction, the cubicle farm has become synonymous with modern offices and has been enshrined in American popular culture through films like "Office Space" and the beloved comic Dilbert. But before we blame Wright for these unsightly office mainstays, remember that cubicles re-erected the boxes that Wright worked so hard to break. So perhaps when you give your employer his or her fruit basket this 'Boss Appreciation Day,' ask him or her to get rid of the cubicles in honor of Frank Lloyd Wright.