Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center,
One John Nolen Drive, Madison, Wisconsin
Is there another property that is more controversial among Wright aficionados?
In 1939 Wright designed a convention and governmental center to sit on the shores of Lake Monona, one of two lakes that defines the capital city. For various political and financial reasons, the project went unbuilt. It is said that Wright approved interim edits to his plan, including “signing off on the final plans seven weeks before his death in 1959” (Monona Terrace Visitor Guide, 2006 brochure, p. 3).
Financing approval was finally obtained by a public vote in 1992, and the property was built on its originally intended site and opened in 1997. The interior incorporated modern improvements designed by Tony Puttnam, a Taliesin architect and former Wright apprentice (ibid.). The project is officially named the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center, but directional signs on public streets direct drivers to the “Frank Lloyd Wright Convention Center.”
This large building is located a couple blocks southeast of the state capitol. Don’t follow the roadside directions to the convention center, as you will circle the area perpetually just so you can be forced to view the lakefront. Instead, follow the directions to the capitol, and then park in the shadow of the capitol on Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. and walk to the upper level of the convention. This will also place you within convenient walking distance of the Robert M. Lamp house (S.097).
The project has been licensed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to use the Frank Lloyd Wright name. It is featured in travel brochures for FLW “Wisconsin Heritage Sites” as advertised by the Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin group.
Monona Terrace has not been assigned an “S” number by Prof. Storrer because of the scope of interior renovations required by modern building codes. See Sandy McLendon, Profile: William Allin Storrer (jetsetmodern.com).
Lake Monona is the site of Otis Redding’s fatal plane crash in 1967 just three days after he recorded “(Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay.” A marker at Monona Terrace’s shore marks the spot. Four members of the Bar-Kays also died.
Photographed on August 28, 2009.
Project numbers: T.3909, T.5632
1992 architectural model displayed at the convention center
Entrance plaza directly adjacent to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Gift shop in background
The walls outside the gift store display great Pedro Guerrero photos of FLW using his hands to describe his architectural vision