Pfeiffer Chapel
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Architect Frank Lloyd Wright
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Location Lakeland, Florida   map
Date 1938   timeline
Building Type church
Climate hot, tropical
Context college campus
Style Modern
Notes S.251. Part of Wright's master plan at Florida Southern College.






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Discussion Pfeiffer Chapel Commentary

"The Ann Pfeiffer Chapel was the first building to be constructed on the campus. Beautifully placed on a slightly rising slope in a tropical garden-like environment, it is ideally a building for the meditative spirit. No view extends to the outside, except from balconies that project from the second level. The concrete block walls are perforated by abstract designs within which are set colored glass, admitting light in subtle tones through the walls of the ground floor of the interior. Above this lower level in subdued light, the eye is drawn to the glowing lantern tower directly overhead, rising above the congregation to bring in daylight in light-pattern. Thus, the interior, quiet and conducive to contemplation at ground level, is lofty and illuminated above; and multiple angles and forms compose the whole. Where one looks up into the lantern tower, expecting to find weight and support, the soft light filters in through translucent skylights enhanced by flowers and vines planted in great angular bowls suspended within the tower. All emphasis is directed toward the sky, the source of ever-changing light and shadow."

— Yukio Futagawa, ed. and photographs with Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, text. Global Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright: Pfeiffer Chapel, Florida Southern College Lakeland, Florida. 1938. Beth Sholom Synagogue Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. 1954. p3.

The Creator's Words

"Anyone anything of an architect will never be content to design a building merely (or chiefly) for the picture it makes—any more than a man would buy a horse merely by its color. What kind of intellect must the critic have who seeing a building judges it by 'the look of it,' ignorant of the nature of its construction?

"For the first time in 500 years a sense of architectural form appears as a new spiritual integrity.

"Heavy walls, senseless overheads and overloads of every sort, vanish—let us be glad. Light and thin walls may now depend from cantilever slabs supported from the interior on shallow, dry-wall footings, walls themselves becoming slender screens, entirely independent of use as support. Centralized supports may stand isolated, balancing load against load—seen not as walls at all, but as integral pattern; walls may be slender suspension from point to point, in fascinating pendant forms. In general, structure now becomes an affair from the inside outward instead of from the outside inward. Various geometrical forms (circular especially) in planning structure become more economical than the square of the box. Building loads may be suspended, suspension supported by slender, isolated uprights....Enclosures extremely light in weight combined with such structural elements relieve all modern building of surplus static; structure no longer an obesity or likely to fall of its own weight....Buildings, at long last—like their occupants—may be themselves free and wear the shining countenance of principle and directly say honestly, by free expression, yet becomingly, what they really are, what they really mean. The new sense of interior space as reality may characterize modern building. Style will be the consequence of integral character. Intellect thus reinforces and makes Spirit effective. An art as flexible, as various, as infinite in its possibilities as the spirit of man."

— Edgar Kaufmann and Ben Raeb, Ed. Frank Lloyd Wright: Writings and Buildings. p316.


Florida Southern CollegeSouth Johnson Avenue at Lake Hollingsworth Drive 33802

Sources on Pfeiffer Chapel

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. geometry diagram, p183. — Updated edition available at

Yukio Futagawa, ed. Frank Lloyd Wright, Pfieffer Chapel & Beth Sholom Synagogue. Tokyo: A. D. A. EDITA Tokyo, 1976. Global Architecture, Books that Matter #40. Text by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer. NA737.W7F8725. discussion, p3. Color photo of exterior, p10-11. photo of interior, p25.

Henry-Russell Hitchcock. In the Nature of Materials. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1942. NA737.W7 H5. section drawing, f408.

Edgar Kaufmann and Ben Raeb, ed. Frank Lloyd Wright: Writings and Buildings. United States: Horizon Press, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, 1960. LC 60-11169. NA737.W7A35 1960. discussion, p316.

Bruce Pfeiffer. Frank Lloyd Wright Drawings. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. exterior perspective drawing, p95.

William S. Saunders. Modern Architecture—Photographs by Ezra Stoller. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3816-2. interior photo, p35. — A wonderful & inspiring book of beautiful photographs by the master of architectural photography. Available at

William Allin Storrer. The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: a Complete Catalog. Second Edition. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1978. NA 737 .W7 A4 1978. ISBN 0-262-19171-7. LC 78-1306. discussion, appendix p3.

William Allin Storrer. The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993. ISBN 0-226-77624-7. LC 93-30127. NA737.W7A4 1993. plan drawing.   Available at

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Pfeiffer Chapel


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