(piano music) - [Wright] Somebody said the museum out here on Fifth Avenue looked like a washing machine.
- [Wallace] This one is your building?
- That's one of my buildings.
Well, I've heard a lot of that type of reaction and I've always discounted it as worthless and I think it is.
I think any man who really has faith in himself will be dubbed arrogant, I suppose.
I think that's what happened to me.
(piano music) - [Mike Wallace] Fellow architects have called him everything from a great poet to an insupportable windbag, the clergy has deplored his morals, creditors have deplored his financial habits, politicians, his opinions.
When you come to New York, as you did today, and you see the skyline of New York, this does not excite you.
This does not exalt you in any manner?
- [Wright] It does not because it never was planned.
It's all raised for rent and is a great monument, I think, to the power of money and greed trying to substitute money for ideas.
I don't see an idea in the whole thing anywhere, do you?
What's the idea?
- [Wallace] I understand that last week, in all seriousness you said, "If I had another "15 years to work, I could rebuild this entire country.
"I could change the nation."
- [Wright] I did say that and it's true.
Having had now the experience going with the building of 769 buildings, it's quite easy for me to shake them out of my sleeve and it's amazing what I could do for this country.
I think the way of life to which the country has committed needs that change.
I wouldn't start to change so much the way we live as what we live in and how we live in it.
- [Wallace] You're saying that practically everyone in the United States is out of step except Frank Lloyd Wright.
- [Wright] Not at all.
I don't say anything of the kind.
It isn't their job to build, it's mine.
For 500 years what we've called architecture has been phony.
- [Wallace] Phony in what sense?
- [Wright] In the sense that it was not innate.
It wasn't organic.
It didn't have the character of nature and I put capital N on Nature and call it my church.
And that's my church and because my church is elemental, fundamental, I can build it for anybody, a church.
- [Wallace] What do you think of church architecture in the United States?
- [Wright] I think it's a great shame because it is a paragon monkey reflection and no reflection of religion.
- [Wallace] Something immediately comes to mind and I am not a Catholic but when I walk into Saint Patrick's Cathedral here in New York City, I am enveloped in a feeling of reverence.
- [Wright] Sure it isn't an inferiority complex?
- [Wallace] You feel nothing when you go into Saint Patricks?
- [Wright] Regret because it isn't the thing that really represents the spirit of independence and the sovereignty of the individual.
As I feel should be represented in our edifices devoted to culture.
I'd like to have a free architecture.
I would like to make it appropriate to the Declaration of Independence, to the center line of our freedom.
I'd like to have architecture that belonged where you see it standing and was a grace to the landscape instead of a disgrace and the letters we receive from our clients tell us how those buildings we build for them have changed the character of their whole life and their whole existence that it's different now than it was before.
Well, I'd like to do that for the country.
- [Wallace] Mr. Wright, suppose you were approached by one of your students who felt pessimistic about his future because of the hydrogen bomb, the threat of war, the world's general insecurity, and he came to you and said, "Help me to understand.
"Give me something to live by."
What could you tell him?
- [Wright] I don't put a line on a drawing board if the answer isn't there.
The answer is within yourself, within the nature of the thing that you yourself represent as yourself.
That's where architecture lies.
That's where humanity lies.
That's where the future we're going to have lies.
If we're ever going to amount to anything, it's there now and all we have to do is develop it.