Editor's Note: Fundamentals
Herbert Jacobs needed a house. He and his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1937 during the Great Depression so Jacobs could take a higher-paying job. However, when he reached Madison, Jacobs could not find a decent home in his price range. So, he took the natural next step. He called Frank Lloyd Wright.
Jacobs had briefly interviewed the famous American architect years earlier but was certainly not a close friend. At the time, Wright was known as an architect for the wealthy. Jacobs told Wright that he needed a house for no more than $5,000 (approximately $85,000 today). To Jacobs’s surprise, Wright jumped at the chance.
Wright had long wanted to design a home for middle-class Americans. “Jacobs didn’t know it at the time, but that modest little house that Frank Lloyd Wright was to build for them would be the most practical expression of his ideology,” says Roman Mars, host of the 99% Invisible podcast, in the episode “Usonia.”
The house Wright designed is now known as Jacobs 1 and spawned a series of homes, and even a community in upstate New York, termed Usonian—a name Wright invented to refer to an “idealized vision of the United States at its democratic zenith,” says Mars. “Usonia embodied an idea that proper architecture could shape culture—design could make the world a better place. A beautiful house, Wright thought, would inspire its residents to eat better, dress better, listen to better music, and be better people.”
However, beauty doesn’t fully capture the power of Wright’s vision. The Usonia homes were designed for a purpose—to be structurally sound and in tune with their environment. “Wright thought there should be no wallpaper to cover things up, no paint, no plaster. Wood should look like wood, stone should look like stone, concrete should look like concrete,” says Mars.
The Usonian homes were a radical departure from the designs of the day. Track lighting, flat roofs, heated floors, open floor plans, and the carport were all invented as part of the Usonian aesthetic. All these features survive today under different names—ranch house design, mid-century modern, minimalist, and even the tiny house movement.
Usonia’s longevity is not only due to aesthetics. The designs also appeal to the fundamentals of a home: natural materials, access to the outdoors, spaces to congregate, and simplicity.
This month’s issue of Security Management addresses fundamentals of a different sort. The fundamentals of guard force management, surveillance, cybersecurity, and public-private partnerships may not inspire security professionals to listen to better music, but they can lead to better policies, procedures, and practices. The fundamentals addressed in these articles, like in Wright’s designs, simply make best practices even better.
The great thing about the fundamentals, in security and architecture, is that they stand the test of time. A home in New York’s Usonia development went on the market in 2017 for $725,000.