Larkin Company Exposition Pavilion, Jamestown Tercentenary Exposition

Date:1907
City: Norfolk, Virginia
Category: Commercial
Restoration status: Demolished

Shortly after the completion of their headquarters in Buffalo, New York, the Larkin Company invited Wright to act as the architect of their pavilion for the Jamestown Tercentenary in Norfolk, Virginia. The Jamestown Tercentenary was organized to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the establishment of colonial Jamestown. Like other world’s fairs and expositions, which became hugely popular in the century following London’s Great Exhibition of 1851, countries and corporations assembled to present pavilions displaying modern machinery, commodities, and cultural objects to the public.

Wright designed the Larkin Company Exposition Pavilion to promote the business’ commercial enterprises. The pavilion comprised two elements—a primary space for exhibitions showcasing furniture and the Larkin Company’s soap products, and an auditorium in which to screen moving pictures featuring footage of sites in and around Buffalo, including the Larkin Company’s factories. The structure was made up of a series of highly reductive rectangular masses and featured uninterrupted bands of clerestory windows. The pavilion’s roofs were completely flat and, unlike other of Wright’s designs from the same period, did not project beyond the building’s supporting walls. It has been argued that the drawings of the pavilion, which were published in the Wasmuth portfolio in 1910, and which varied slightly from the completed structure, may have influenced the de Stijl group and other German and Dutch designers working in the 1920s and 30s.


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