The contents of this website form an integral part of the John W. Geiger Collection for the Study of Organic Architecture, housed at the Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While that institution offers an on-line finding aid derived from some of the information presented here about the Geiger collection, the presentation of the automated reference system is largely predicated on storage locator functions and does not express the contextual relationships and additional detail shown here which were important to John Geiger's view of his archival materials and research.
An architect by training and during his latter decades an industrious scholar of the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright, John Geiger intended that the content of these pages and a database he had created should be permanently available on the Internet as digital components of his archival collection. Through his donor agreement with the Northwest Architectural Archives and by creating the associated John W. Geiger Endowment for the Study of Organic Architecture at the University of Minnesota Foundation, he provided for the permanent benefit of his legacy to those who shared his interest in studying the history of organic architectural design.
The Why page explains the genesis of this website as it evolved from 2008 to 2010 under the authorship of John Geiger. In February, 2011, Geiger passed away with the full vision for his website remaining only partly realized. In the year prior to his death, he worked with Mark Hammons, an architectural historian and computer programmer, to create a master plan. Author of several monographs and essays on organic architecture, Hammons understood the intellectual background of the Geiger web project and the contents of the Geiger archival collection. As former Special Assistant to the Dean and Director of Information Technology at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Hammons possessed knowledge of the Taliesin community and technical skills. The program for the website devised by Geiger was left to Hammons for implementation. The long term development scheme for the site was ambitious.
To fulfill his wishes, a final group of writings prepared by Geiger but left unpublished at his death was added to the site, together with other unfinished manuscripts. These last essays have been edited into a final version, usually derived from multiple paper-based and electronic drafts written between 1999 and 2010. Episode 3 and Miscellanous Writings documents were not as fully developed as the earlier published Episodes 1 and 2, but they provide valuable insights and complement observations in those other, more finished presentations. Illustrations for the original essay pages and the Frank Lloyd Wright Chronology were selected Geiger. He also obtained permission for use on the website of drawings from the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives. Additional illustrations from the Geiger collection were selected by Mark Hammons based on conversations with Geiger and a few written notes found with the manuscript files.
Geiger also wished the extensive information in a personal database to appear on his website. An overview of the database explains the value of the data collected by Geiger over more than twenty years. Further, he wanted to show the relationship between the database and his physical archival collection, particularly his library of books, periodicals, and other documents related to Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin community. To this end, an annotated, database driven inventory of his collection was envisioned for the website. Geiger also observed the proliferation of web resources devoted to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. In particular, he was interested in Wright architectural drawings available at repositories such as the Library of Congress and Avery Library at Columbia University. Finally, Geiger left a list of Internet links he felt should connect with the contents of his site.
Geiger conceived the graphical layout of his website as an artistic, indeed architectonic, design. Extensive notes, sketches, research reports, and drafts developing the site can be found in his archival collection. The first version, published in 2009, was envisioned through a paper based model. Geiger was pleased with the evolution of the look of the web pages as they evolved through a second version developed with Mark Hammons. All of the contents of this website were determined by Geiger, who created detailed outlines of his intended information schema, including his own photograph collections and other archival resources -- documents that were among the last he entered into his database. The appearance of these pages remains an archival artifact of Geiger's creative intentions, and every effort has been made to maintain the design aesthetic that he developed.
However, some changes have been necessary to the site as it existed. While he was living, Geiger intended the site to serve as an interactive medium to encourage conversation with those interested in his research. Originally, a page was provided for contacting him via email. Also, Geiger had a chat forum created by which people could engage and debate the ideas he presented concerning the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Both of these features have been necessarily removed from the present version. The Table of Contents and main menu choices have been adjusted to accomodate easier navigation of the site with the introduction of posthumous components such as the finding aid. Other than that, the original design of the site by Geiger has been left intact.
In places, the existing format does not allow for the display of drawings and other visual records in a completely satisfactory way due to the quantity or scale of the original media. Instead, larger drawings are supplied as PDFs, something that Geiger had his drawings scanned to accomplish. Due to the quantity of important historical photographs, a gallery system has been implemented. Other compromises to the Geiger format have been kept to a minumum. Finally, the site is indexed through the use of page bookmarks to allow efficient search.