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Wfm rosenbaum house interior

The interior of the Rosenbaum House

Usonia (pronounced /juːˈsoʊniə/) is a word used by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright to refer to his vision for the landscape of the United States, including the planning of cities and the architecture of buildings. Wright proposed the use of the adjective Usonian in place of American to describe the particular New World character of the American landscape as distinct and free of previous architectural conventions.

Usonian has occasionally been used in the sense of "U.S. citizen". (See wiktionary:Usonian and names for Americans.)

Usonian housesEdit

'Usonian' is a term usually referring to a group of approximately sixty middle-income family homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright beginning in 1936 with the Jacobs House.[1] The "Usonian Homes" were typically small, single-story dwellings without a garage or much storage, L-shaped to fit around a garden terrace on odd (and cheap) lots, with native materials, flat roofs and large cantilevered overhangs for passive solar heating and natural cooling, natural lighting with clerestory windows, and radiant-floor heating. A strong visual connection between the interior and exterior spaces is an important characteristic of all Usonian homes. The word carport was coined by Wright to describe an overhang for a vehicle to park under.

Variants of the Jacobs House design are still in existence today and do not look overly dated. The Usonian design is considered among the aesthetic origins of the popular "ranch" tract home popular in the American west of the 1950s.

Origin of the wordEdit

Gordon House front

Gordon House

The word Usonian appears to have been coined by James Duff Law, an American writer born in 1865. In a miscellaneous collection titled Here and There in Two Hemispheres (1903), Law quoted a letter of his own (dated 18 June 1903) that begins "We of the United States, in justice to Canadians and Mexicans, have no right to use the title 'Americans' when referring to matters pertaining exclusively to ourselves." He went on to acknowledge that some author had proposed "Usona", but that he preferred "Usonia."[2] Perhaps the earliest published use by Wright was in 1927:

But why this term "America" has become representative as the name of these United States at home and abroad is past recall. Samuel Butler fitted us with a good name. He called us Usonians, and our Nation of combined States, Usonia.

Frank Lloyd Wright on Architecture: Selected Writings 1894–1940, p. 100.

The word is clearly cognate with the Esperanto name for the United States, Usono. The creator of Esperanto, L. L. Zamenhof, used this name in his speech at the 1910 World Congress of Esperanto in Washington, D.C., coincidentally the same year Wright was in Europe. However, the Esperanto online dictionary Reta Vortaro[3] attributes the word to Wright.

Noted Usonian houses Edit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. "Frank Lloyd Wright - The Jacobs House 1936". http://www.usonia1.com. 
  2. James D. Law, Here and There in Two Hemispheres (Lancaster: Home Publishing Co., 1903), pp. 111–12n.
  3. [1]

External linksEdit

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The original article was at Usonia. The list of authors can be seen in the history for that page. The text of Wikipedia is available under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license.


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