Discovering Frank Lloyd Wright in San Francisco

While the man widely considered America’s greatest architect in history designed a number of buildings in California, those seeking a Frank Lloyd Wright foray in San Francisco proper have but one option.

Unknown to many, the Xanadu Gallery at 140 Maiden Lane—a stone’s throw from Union Square—is Wright’s only creation in the City by the Bay. Wright reportedly took an entirely new approach to the storefront concept when designing what was then the V.C. Morris Gift Shop in 1948—eschewing windows for a modern brick-laden pattern he felt would be even more captivating to would-be shoppers.

The real allure in my opinion, however, lies inside the building, which is essentially laid-out like a mini-Guggenheim, with a winding ‘curvilinear’ ramp wrapping along the walls as it ascends to the upper floor. The structure was actually designed just before the Guggenheim and served as something of a prototype.

As the current tenant, Xanadu Gallery has filled out the space nicely with Asian art and antiques that make for an enjoyable browse, but the real treasure is enjoying the only San Francisco offering to Wright’s famous name.

The entire space is also available for events during non-business hours, and it’s hard to imagine a much more inspiring backdrop than the unique setting—which can handle a group of about 100-120 for a reception.

The shop is located at 140 Maiden Lane, between Stockton and Grant Streets, and is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 6.

 

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